Not an opera, not a film
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 02:03
Broadcasted opera at the movie theater is not an opera, nor a movie. It’s bizarre.
I saw The Metropolitan Opera’s presentation of Parsifal last weekend. It’s five hours and 45 minutes long. It’s considered Wagner’s magnum opus, a self-proclaimed “festival play for the consecration of the stage.”
And I watched it with a bucket of popcorn and Milk Duds, in a t-shirt and sneakers—a comedy starring Melissa McCarthy of Bridesmaids was right next door.
When the octogenarians that made up the line to get in saw me walk up, they scoffed at the ignorance I was bringing to such a monumental performance. After all, I hadn’t seen WWII or the moon landing.
But the two 25-minute intermissions told a different story. After I got a personal pizza, I eavesdropped by the restrooms as the elderly folk expressed distaste at the liberties taken by François Girard’s contemporary interpretation of the medieval fairytale.
They were bored and many of them left early. I wasn’t bored and I stayed. Maybe they left because of the show, but it dawned on me that perhaps they didn’t come for the show, but for The Met.
And you can’t experience The Met in a movie theater.
The entire atmosphere was trying to feel formal, with fancy clothes and a strained attempt at complete silence. An air of sophistication was desperately grasping at the theater.
But people were coming in and out, crinkling wrappers, and adjusting their seats. We got to see backstage, and enjoy interviews with cast members between acts. At The Met, you never get to see anything like that.
There’s also the fact that it is being portrayed through cameras, and so is presented differently than on a stage. The intimacy of the camera destroys the illusion of cheap props and harsh face makeup, and the grandeur of curtains and a live orchestra.
The Met is about the stage. The movie theater is about the screen, and the old folks couldn’t adjust their expectations.
The presentation wasn’t bad at all, just uncategorical. And because I went into it without expectation, I loved every second.