24 February 2008

Once around, four acts

I did make it to the Met yesterday.

I was a little taken aback by the one-scene nature of each of the four acts of the opera. I'm more accustomed to the sort of drama that is divided both into acts and into scenes, the difference tactically being just that a change of scenes leaves less time between curtain down and curtain up than does a change of acts!

But in an opera, or at least this one, each act obeys within itself the classical unities of time, place, action. Though there are narrative gaps (huge ones) between them.

I was also surprised by the fact that the cast of each act came out to take a bow after the curtain closed on that one, rather than simply saving the curtain calls for the whole cast for the end. Well, conventions are what they are.

I won't speak of Manon Lescaut as an opera, beyond the little bit of canned-erudition I included in yesterday's entry here. Beyond that, I'll link you to a synopsis.

I will say, though, that I love seeing "understudy" slips in a program, especially with regard to the leading roles. It means some one is getting a break -- a chance to star for which he/she had prepared without any firm expectation -- without even perhaps daring to hope (since that would mean hoping for the illness of a lead, and who could do that?).

At the performance last night, Maria Gavrilova sang the title role, replacing Karita Mattila.

Richard Bernstein also fell ill. He had been singing the role of the captain of the ship that transports prisoners from France to Louisiana. That role fell last night to Keith Miller.

I can't say that the role of the Captain stood out for me. But Manon of course did! and I can say that Ms Gavrilova has a wonderful voice -- and that it's hard to imagine her performance being bettered. The crucial business in which she taunts her older lover with a mirror came off especially well, I think.

I don't see myself becoming an aficionado but I'm glad I went. Even the detour through the streets of the borough of Queens on the way home was instructive.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.