I am not a fan of opera, having seen only one live performance in my life. It was a long time ago when I was in Germany and we were taken as a group to see Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. My reaction? Kind of meh. But I decided to take advantage of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s decision, during the time when they are shut down due to the pandemic, to broadcast recordings of their past live streams of operas for free with a new one every night. (See this post for details).
The first one yesterday was Carmen and I decided to watch it. I was surprised by two things. One was that I enjoyed it as much as I did, given that I did not understand a word of it. I had, however, read a brief synopsis of the plot so that I could generally follow what was going on and why people suddenly switched from tenderness to anger. The second was how very familiar much of the music was even to a non-opera buff like me. It shows how much of this music has penetrated into all areas of culture.
These opera singers are quite amazing. They are able to project their voices into the large auditorium without looking as if they are making much of an effort, even when they are in positions that are not conducive to singing, such as lying on the ground. If this was not serious opera put on by a reputable institution in front of a live audience, you might be tempted to think that they were lip-syncing, so effortless did they make it look.
I now plan to watch today’s streaming of Puccini’s La Boheme.
Meanwhile the governor of California has issued an order for people in five counties to ‘shelter in place’ from midnight Tuesday until April 7. What does that mean?
Residents “may leave to provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain essential activities and work for essential business or government services”.
The key word here is “essential”. Going to get groceries, seeking medical attention, bringing a dog to a veterinarian or picking up medication are all activities that officials consider essential.
Residents working in the healthcare field will be able to go to and from their jobs. Workers with jobs like garbage collection will be able to continue their work.
The order also allows for outdoor exercise, “provided that the individuals comply with social distancing requirements”.
Although I do not live in any of the counties affected by the order, I plan to be effectively following it by staying at home for the next few weeks except for going out for walks in the neighborhood. I have enough food to last me for a few weeks and I am quite comfortable being alone for long periods of time, so this is by no mean a hardship for me. I have also been playing bridge online.
Since I plan to be watching the Met’s operas during this time, who knows, I may emerge from this period of isolation with a broader cultural horizon than before.