For the past few years, I have been a season ticket holder at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Until about a year ago I lived in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia, and this meant it was a relatively easy day trip up to New York. I would take the train up, meet my fellow opera-loving friend who lives there for lunch and an opera matinee, and get back in time for a late dinner.
Then I moved to central Pennsylvania, almost the exact middle of the state, and this has complicated my New York City-going habits. Because of the longer travel time, I’m now going for overnight weekend trips, and ideally for three day weekends. I used to live in New York, and it is still one of my favorite places to visit, so I always find plenty to do. Since my visits are usually built around opera performances, I started planning my next year’s visits to New York when the Met’s 2016-17 season was announced a few weeks ago.
This year I had six New York City trips planned, four of which have already happened. We saw Turandot and Tannhauser in October, Die Fledermaus in December, right before we left for New Orleans, and Manon Lescaut a few weeks ago.* In mid-March, we have tickets for Nozze di Figaro (I also have tickets to Hamilton for that trip, which I am very excited about), and in May for Elektra.
This has all made for a lot of back-and-forth short trips to NYC, though, and I learned that going up to NYC on a Saturday and back on a Sunday was not ideal. It felt like I arrived in New York with just enough time for dinner, the opera, brunch the next morning, and then it was time to go. I think for next year I’ll be able to combine at least two performances into one weekend. So the plan is to go for four three-day weekend trips to see five operas, which will give me some more time in the city.
The ones we are planning to get tickets for next season are Tristan und Isolde, Don Giovanni, Salome, Rusalka, and Der Rosenkavalier, so I’m planning four trips for October, December, February, and April. I usually choose the operas based mostly on the cast, but this also worked out well since the only one of these five I have seen before is Don Giovanni, and I have wanted to see both Tristan and Salome for a long time.
*Mini-reviews of the Met performances so far:
Turandot: This is the first time I’ve seen a production of Turandot, and I learned that outside of the show-stopping arias, I do not much like Turandot. When we saw it, Goerke was not in good voice, but Alvarez and Gerzmava were great. For some reason Gerzmava (or the conductor) took Signore Ascolta at a quick tempo, which I object to. I think this is the one where the old man next to fell asleep and SNORED, while also periodically leaning on my shoulder. I am not kidding.
Tannhauser: Also kind of a dud for me, although the cast was fine. I am not a huge Wagner fan.
Die Fledermaus: I have seen Fledermaus before and I’m pretty sure after this time I don’t need to see it again. The cast was great, the production was fine, the music was pretty, but even with all that, there was not enough there to make it worthwhile for me. I need to remember that in the future.
Manon Lescaut: We saw Massanet’s Manon last season, and had a compare-and-contrast discussion during the intermissions. We agreed that Massanet’s Manon is more sympathetic, but Puccini’s has the better music. Jonas Kaufmann was supposed to sing Des Grieux, but he cancelled, so we saw Roberto Alagna instead. I was a little disappointed, but I thought Alagna did a great job. This is the first time I had heard Kristine Opolais, and I liked her a lot. She has the perfect voice for these mid-weight Puccini roles. However, I greatly disliked the staging in the last half of the third act, which made me worry about the singers’ safety instead of concentrating on the music.