Some people actually have an interest in attending the opera but struggle with understanding where to begin. They might be afraid that all of those “clichés” they have heard might come true and disappoint them in the biggest of ways. Many people simply don’t know that there is opera for everyone and that the right experience can be a lasting experience.
The Metropolitan Opera just announced its 2017-18 season filled with a plethora of works that might just become the calling card for those interested but simply don’t know where to begin. If you have made the resolution of tackling opera, or taking someone to opera for the first time, here are the works that can turn them on to the most complete of art forms.
The Basics: The romantic opera by Giacomo Puccini tells the tale of a group of Bohemians who struggle with identity, love and getting through the difficult winter.
Why they will love it: This is arguably the best work to kickstart anyone’s operatic journey. Instead of seeing kings or fictional rulers, audiences watch everyday people laugh and cry side by side. We watch them battle through the ever so difficult challenge of paying rent. We see a romance blossom, then burn, then revive and then fatally end. We see an entire city celebrate Christmas. And at the Met you get to see this in a production that puts the splendor and majesty into opera. Throw in Puccini’s irresistible melodies and this is the opera that has sealed the deal for the novice. This happened to Yours Truly.
The Basics: Donizetti’s comedy relates the story of the village idiot doing everything to win the ill-suited love of his life. Famous tunes about with comic situations cropping up one after another.
Why they will love it: Everyone has fallen in love at some point in their lives with the wrong person and made themselves look a fool as they desperately sought the beloved’s attention. That is the entire crux of the opera, Donizetti taking us to rather hilarious circumstances as poor Nemorino continually puts himself in embarrassing circumstances. But the opera keeps us enthralled through its bright and sunny melodies with “La Furtiva Lagrima” a classic tune everyone, even non-opera goers have heard.
“Hansel and Gretel”
The Basics: The Grimm fairytale about two abandoned children who d their utmost to survive the clutches of an evil witch was sweetly adapted by Humperdinck.
Why they will love it: It’s a classic tale that everyone knows and the fantasy elements inherent in the opera and production make it appealing to anyone of ALL AGES. That’s right, this is one that you can take your kids too with the assurance that they will walk away wanting more. The Met’s production is presented in English, vibrant and rich in color while the music is light, bouncy and fun.
“The Magic Flute”
The Basics: Magic and music come together in a tale that includes a young princess setting out to rescue the love of his life while confronting the forces of evil.
Why they will love it: The accessible story makes this a treat for both children and adults with some of Mozart’s most memorable tunes rounding out the experience. This production by Julie Taymour is still a stunner with the stage tricks creating true magical moments and visuals that are impossible to forget. It also helps that the Met is presenting this work in English.
The Basics: Puccini’s final work takes to Ancient China where a mysterious princess sets out to win the hand of a vengeful princess, risking his life and family in the process.
Why they will love it: Aside from “La Donna e mobile” or the “William Tell Overture’s finale,” I would be hard-pressed to find a more famous opera “tune” than “Nessun Dorma.” Let’s start there. The narrative is rather straight-forward making for a streamlined experience. Throw in Puccini’s choral splendor and catchy melodies and you’re almost home. But the real reason this is the winner for the uninitiated is Zefirrelli’s production. Moreso than any other thing playing on the Met stage, the sets for “Turandot” are truly magnificent and awe-inspiring. Just seeing them for the first time is epiphanic.