Sunday, May 6, 2012

Igor Goes to the Opera!

OK, so going to the opera is nothing new for me. I do it fairly often. I've been reviewing them for Artdish for lo these many years. But this is the first time I've seen one at Key Arena. Let me tell you, it was quite a fine experience. You know, I expected mullets, flip-flops and huge obese families with squalling children. Nothing of the sort. Fine, upstanding people actually got dressed up to watch an opera at a sports arena. I also expected for people to be on their phones for the entire show. That also didn't happen. You know what else didn't happen? A full house, that's what. Tickets were free and all 8,000 had been reserved a week in advance. The real attendance was probably around 2,500; still respectable, but just slightly more indicative of Seattle's innate lameness or perhaps that 5,500 people find even opera for free to be too daunting. I don't know. Anyhow, I settled in on the 200 level and what you see above was my view. The photo below was an attempt to portray the size of the crowd. I also managed to capture a scene from the Bugs Bunny cartoon "What's Opera, Doc?" Yeah, they showed that. It was wonderful.
As for Madama Butterfly, I'll say this: it was very well sung. Butterfly, that cad Pinkerton and Sharpless were fantastic. The sound inside the arena was remarkably clear and the camera work was quite good. The orchestra, on the other hand, had its share of troubles. Sure, they stayed together, but the first act seemed like a competition between the strings and the woodwinds for who could play the most out of tune. The strings won and carried the second act, too. They got it together by the third act. So despite that, I think everybody should see this production. There's nothing new or innovative about it; Cio-Cio San still gets burned by Pinkerton and still kills herself, the scenery is traditionally minimal and both Americans and Japanese communicate in perfect Italian, but it's still quite enjoyable. I'd love to see more productions like this. I always have a touch of claustrophobia in McCaw Hall. I don't know why. It's just always been that way. The Key Arena setting made that totally disappear. And believe it or not, seeing Speight Jenkins' 50-foot-tall head on the giant screen before the show and during the intermission wasn't that alarming.

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