As readers of Gourmay are aware, Sheila and I are passionate about the Opera. Unfortunately, we had to surrender our tickets at the Metropolitan Opera a few years ago because the commute into NYC and rushed dinner were simply too much for our bodies and mental faculties to overcome. As such, we were thrilled when the Metropolitan Opera began transmitted a live Saturday matinee performance from the Met to select cinemas (i.e. theaters) across the United States that had HD capabilities. While we can’t make the live Saturday transmission (work conflict), the Met was kind enough to offer an encore “live” performance on Wednesday night a week or two after the original transmission. We and many other opera lovers are delighted that they have done so. I would strongly encourage all of you to locate a theater near you and attend one of these life-enriching performances.
This last week, we attended a performance of Russian composer Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov. Boris Godunov, The Tsar, was sung by René Pape a German bass, whose voice which makes your heart vibrate. Long known for his performances in Wagner operas, the role of Godunov is a match made in heaven for both Mr. Pape and his deeply appreciative audience. His rich voice and charisma simply dwarfed the stirring but somewhat monotonous choral interludes.
While René Pape was certainly worth the price of admission, Boris Godunovfailed to inspire. I think it was the dark sets and Russian dialogue that looked like they had been carved out of a Dostoevsky novel. With mad monks, scheming politicians and frustrated peasants looking for inspired leadership, this opera had much going for it. Nevertheless, it was a bit too introspective for me. As Denis Forman, who writes The Good Opera Guide, summarizes: Boris Godunov is “the one where the Tsar gained the throne by killing the true heir when he was a baby, the memory of which drives him to madness and death.” I would like to thank Abigail for tracking down The Good Opera Guide in London, which in my mind is the definitive guide for those looking for backstage gossip and crisp analysis.
In fact, I was thinking that the political intrigue chronicled so elegantly by the Opera was quite representative of our own political discord. Nevertheless, Boris Godunov had a conscience, something our own politicians seem to lack.
While Boris Godunov was perhaps a bit too heavy for Opera novices, I strongly encourage you to see Anna Netrebko in Don Pascuale which airs shortly. Find below a short clip of her singing an aria from Puccini’s La Bohème: