Wednesday, February 02, 2011

It's French for "The Bohème"

Maddie's Christmas gift to me was a pair of tickets for Puccini's La Bohème at the Met Opera on Monday night, so I went down Monday night (taking Tuesday off work) for a kind of midweek weekend addendum. It was a lovely evening, naturally, as dressing up and hearing some well-rendered Puccini in a lavishly traditional staging is a thoroughly nice experience. By "dressed up," I mean Maddie dressed up, and I put on a tie and the one pair of slacks she tolerates me wearing in public. And it's nice being on an opera date, rather than geeking out on Britten or Janáček or Prokofiev or Ligeti alone.

I find the idea of describing La Bohème like the idea of describing crème brûlée -- musically and dramatically it just seems to exist in the world as a smooth, well-formed luxury thing, and I can't identify any meaningful reference points to characterize it, which would be beside the point anyway. La Bohème's story is a pretty straight-up reduction of lovers-interrupted-by-death, not really embedded in a theme so much as a colorful time-and-place substrate.

Speaking of which, I hesitate to make this observation, because I think opera as an art form gets an upper-crust rap it doesn't deserve, but experiencing a story of tragic, ostensible starving-artist types in a finely polished Met Opera milieu creates a little bit of a disconnect.

After the show we had fruity cocktails in a hotel bar 35 stories above Columbus Circle and the usual intoxicating nighttime skyline, then we took a cab back to Astoria. So, yeah, luxury all around. It's satisfying now and then!


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