I haven’t been to a show since I moved to New York (just past three years), and when my friend invited me to go, I jumped at the opportunity. I can’t say I’ve been a fan of the opera, the only one I’m familiar with is Carmen, but in a sort of abstract way. Il Trovatore is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi which premiered in Rome in 1853. The Friday I attended, September 25, 2015, was the opening night for this cast. The opera tells the story of two men, a Count and a gypsy who are in love with the Noblewoman, Lenora, after the end of the Spanish Civil War, but she only has a heart for the Gypsy, Manrico. The opera is a tragedy in four parts, beautifully put together and layered with deception and gut-wrenching emotion.
I spent the first part of the opera listening to the cast and their magnificently projecting voices. It wasn’t until part two, that I realized subtitles were available from a screen in front of our seats! This way I was able to follow the story and still appreciate the music.
I always imagined opera attendees as very stiff and formal, though there were many people who only dressed in “business casual,” there were still those who dressed up in floor-length gowns and furs. The whole audience seemed to drip money and I felt very out of place. It was even a surprise that many people were enthusiastic about the performances. The actor who played Count Di Luna, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, was returning to the opera after recovering from cancer, so many of his fans were in the audience. The first time he appeared on stage, he was unable to begin his song because of the cheering and clapping from the crowd for his, obvious, triumphant return. I loved the energy.
Another thing that impressed me about the opera, all the cast was singing in Italian, but most of the actors were not Italian (or English for that matter), and their native languages came from all over the world. The actor who played the tragic hero, Manrico, was from South Korea! Even after all these years where opera has fallen out of style in popular culture, it’s still able to bring together people from all over the world. My only criticism was the way the staff held the guests in the lobby before showtime. It was awkward and seemed out of place for an established opera house to create such a chaotic arrival.
I would be glad to go to the opera again. I always think it’s important to have new experiences in your life that make you learn and grow. (In a small way, this did).