Le Nozze di Figaro at the Met
February 21, 2002
Le Nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera was quite simply the best opera I have ever been to. Everything was amazingly marvelous. The difference between the San Francisco Opera and the Met is vast, despite the fact that they get some of the same singers and conductors and so forth.
First of all, Mozart is my favorite opera composer, and I've seen Le Nozze before in San Francisco. It simply blew me away, because it was just so much better than Puccini, Bizet et al. It was the longest opera I had seen at that point, yet I was fully engaged in it. So I was perfectly willing to see it again at the Met.
The Metropolitan Opera lives at the Lincoln Center. The building is, sadly, quite ugly, and also gigantic, though the acoustics seem to be good. They don't have a projection screen for supertitles, which great because I never need that kind of distraction. Instead they have a small screen on the backs of the seats, which one can leave on the off position. I don't understand why one can't just read the libretto, or learn Italian, but I'm crazy.
Money cannot buy happiness, so they say, but it can buy very good opera seats. Our seats were center third row orchestra, and we managed not to sit behind giants, so the view of the stage was good and the sound was good there. I could even see and hear the conductor, which is a rarity for me. I've been to operas that Donald Runnicles has conducted at San Francisco Opera, but I've never seen him up close. He looks very different than the photograph that he uses in the programs.
All of the singers were consistently good and at the same excellent level. This was a striking difference between the Met and SF operas. The singers were as good as the ones at the Volksoper in Vienna. Rebecca Evans was charming as Susanna, her voice was sweet, warm, and clear as ever. I've seen this Welsh soprano as Adina in the San Francisco production of L'Elisir d'Amore, in which she was also brilliant. Melanie Diener had the part of the Countess, and her voice was colder and airier. It was a nice foil, actually. Ferruccio Furlanetto also did a splendid job as Figaro, he also has a warm rich voice.