Sunday, September 20, 2009

From the Ballpark to the Streets

At least some of my dissatisfaction with Giuseppe Verdi earlier this morning was probably a result of my having gone to see the simulcast of last night's San Francisco Opera performance of Il Trovatore from a seat in AT&T Park. Opera at the Ballpark is now a regular San Francisco Opera feature; and, as social events go, it is really quite an experience. However, it is important to recognize that it is a social experience, rather than an opera experience; and, at best, it can serve as an incentive for trying out the opera experience itself it its proper setting. The problem is that Trovatore is not the best offering to serve as such an incentive. To the extent that it works at all, it demands an interplay between its moments of bombast and the use of softer subtlety. From this point of view it is interesting to read Julie Bloom's latest post to the Arts Beat blog for The New York Times:

The sirens and other orchestral sounds singular to Times Square will have some competition Monday night. The Metropolitan Opera’s opening-night gala performance of Puccini’s “Tosca,” which kicks off its season, will be transmitted onto multiple screens in Times Square and to a large screen at Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza.

The new production, which stars Karita Mattila, Marcelo Álvarez and George Gagnidze, will be conducted by James Levine.

Admission to the Lincoln Center Plazacast is free, but tickets are required. Beginning at noon Sunday only at the Met Box office, 3,000 tickets were made available (limited to two per person). The live Times Square relay of the performance, which will be carried on the Panasonic, Reuters/Nasdaq and MTV screens, is also free, with no tickets required. Approximately 2,000 seats will be available for the public on a first-come first-served basis, with additional standing room provided.

As I have observed before, Tosca makes for quite a different kind of selection. It is one of those operas that delivers its message through its capacity for being loud and vulgar. If there is any question as to whether or not the street sounds of New York might be too intrusive, we should remember that offstage sounds play a significant role in Giacomo Puccini's conception of the Tosca score. So, for this particular occasion, the Met may have the better idea; but, since Tosca was the offering at last year's Ballpark event, the Met may have gotten the idea from San Francisco!

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