This was my first time seeing, or even hearing, Aida. Knowing it was Verdi made the decision to go that much easier.

This was my first time seeing, or even hearing, Aida. Knowing it was Verdi made the decision to go that much easier.

This weekend I went to see Aida at the Cineplex. Not a movie, rather this is one of a series of live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Nothing is abridged or edited for content – it’s the full Verdi opera and in many ways it’s even better than being there live.

Of course, nothing can surpass the experience of actually being at the Met for a show, but there’s a lot to recommend this approach to opera-going.

  1. It’s cheaper. Substantially cheaper. It’s $25 for a single ticket. You can pay $25 o see the Met in NYC – thankfully they have a series of cheap tickets to keep it accessible to everyone – but you’ll be in the nosebleed section. To get anything close to the view we had from the Cineplex, you’d have to pay upwards of $250 or more for front row tickets.
  2. Which brings me to point number two: not only do you get to sit closer, but you get multiple camera angles. So you’re sitting simultaneously in the front row, in the orchestra pit, in the boxes, and backstage. You couldn’t ask for more complete coverage.
  3. And about backstage: in between acts, rather than just throw up an “intermission” card, the Met has a host to take you backstage for interviews with the performers and crew, and shows you how the sets are designed and set up – all in real time.
  4. Comfort: I’ve been to the met and the seats don’t offer a lot of leg room. They’ve tried to cram in as many seats as possible. But at the movie theatre, you get lots of space in comfortable reclining seats. Plus you can wear jeans and sweats because, really, who are you trying to impress?
  5. And it’s a minor point, but you leave the adulation to the crowds in NYC. You don’t have to clap after every aria; they can’t hear you anyway.

There’s really not much by way of a downside. I was, however, surprised by the advanced age of my fellow concert-goers. Surrounded by white hair, it turned out to be no different from going to a concert of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Only thing is, at the NAC, I’m used to it. When I go to a movie theatre, I expect to be surrounded by teens and young people.

That’s not a complaint. It was a nice change not to have people putting their feet up on seatbacks, or texting their friends during the show, or yelling jokes at the screen as if they were watching the show in their living room. Nope. Just very respectful people, quietly enjoying an opera together.

Of course, there’s always one.

At the very end of the show, while the singers were coming onstage for repeated curtain calls, I had had enough and stood to leave. I got to the end of my row when the lady in the final seat also decided to stand and gather her belongings.

Well apparently it was taking too long for the old duffer in the next row and he grumpily leaned forward to suggest I sit down and get out of his way. Not that I wanted to be in his way, but honestly, it was only curtain calls, and I was clearly waiting for someone else to move aside.

Sigh. Why ya gotta harsh my mellow, dude?

He didn’t sour it enough to keep me away. I’m ready to go see Berlioz’s Les Troyens in early January. Gotta get me a posse to go with!


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