Sunday, June 22, 2008

Opera in the Park

On Friday night I left work a little early and rushed across town with my picnic blanket to stake out a spot for what promised to be one of the best concerts of the summer, the Metropolitan Opera's summer concert in Prospect Park. The stars of the evening, Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, were going to be singing some of opera's famous duets.

As I saved space for friends who would be arriving later, I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman on the next blanket over. To my delight, he was a regular opera-goer and regaled me with behind-the-scenes tales and reviews of recent performances.

Friends finally arrived, laden with all manner of fancy picnic fare, from bread, cheese, and fruit, to salads, pasta and sparkling juice. They were just in time. Crowds continued to pour in, (150,000 were expected) and literally every square inch of the grass on the massive field was taken up by the time the concert began at 8:00.

Gheorghiu and Alagna were fantastic. Not only are the soprano and tenor famous for their performances around the world, they also happen to be married to one another, and they sang together in an effortless and natural way. The concert was a varied program of classics and relatively unknown works: a few duets, a few solos, and a few pieces with the chorus singing as well.

It was after the program ended and the encores began, however, that the fun really started. One standing ovation after another brought the singers back on stage again and again, where they sang some crowd favorites and clearly enjoyed themselves immensely, as did all the rest of us. By the end of the night we were clapping along at the singers' encouragement, and somehow it felt like all 150,000 of us were friends out for a night of music and fun. Definitely one of the best New York moments I've ever experienced.

With no way to record the concert, my only way to share a bit of it with you is through these shaky videos gleaned from Youtube (thanks to user qbertplaya).

Here is Roberto Alagna singing "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot:



And this is Angela Gheorghiu singing "Un bel di, vedremo" from Puccini's Madame Butterfly:

7 comments:

Ashkon said...

It was fantastic!

Sabrina said...

Ahhh...picnic, park, music? Sounds lovely!

jessamyn said...

oh it sounds so perfect! how i wish i was in NY.

limonana said...

sounds lovely...the only live opera i've experienced live is my brother in the shower...:o)

Tahirih said...

Thanks for saving us that spot Elizabeth - it was fantastic to be so close. I agree that night was one of the best NYC moments so far!

Chessa said...

what a wonderful NY night...

amy said...

this sounds like it was great fun!!!