Known only as “The Met”, one of New York City’s most prominent opera houses The Metropolitan Opera first opened in 1880. It would be only natural that after one hundred and thirty-six years in operation certain operas would be repeated, sometimes more than once. We would like to take a look at some of the “Met operas” – those that are regularly performed at The Metropolitan Opera, to our pleasure of course.
This piece is a very popular one for the company at The Met to stage. Written by Giuseppe Verdi between 1870 and 1871, Aida is set in Egypt. Aida, an Ethiopian princess, is being held prisoner but do not know her identity because she lied.
Aida works as a slave. Radames, a General in the Egyptian army, is in love with Aida and she loves him. Ramades is appointed to lead a war against Ethiopia.
Aida is hurt and is torn between her love for Radames and her loyalty to her home. The Egyptian King’s daughter, Amneris, loves Radames too. They win the war with Ethiopia and the King offers Radames his daughter as a thank you.
This makes Radames next in line for the throne and Aida is crushed. Amonasro, Aida’s father and King of Ethiopia, is a prisoner and Aida finds him. He convinces his daughter to find out what she can from Radames.
Instead, Aida runs away with Radames and he is caught. Aida escapes with her father and Radames is sentenced to death for treason. They bury Radames alive and he is surprised to find Aida in his deep grave with him. They die together.
2. La bohéme
Somewhere between 1893 and 1895 Puccini penned this next opera that has appeared at the met far over twelve hundred times since 1900.
It all begins in Paris with four Bohemians. Rodolfo, Marcello, Schaunard, and Colline who share an attic apartment. They have nothing but don’t care. On Christmas Eve they all go out but Rodolfo, a writer, has not finished a poem he has been writing.
Rodolfo promises to meet up with them later. Mimi, their neighbor, comes to the door and she asks him to help her light a candle. While searching for a light their hands brush each other and they fall madly in love.
The new couple goes to the bar to meet with Rodolfo’s friends. Musetta, girlfriend to Marcello joins them and they are merry. Two months later Mimi goes to Musetta and Marcello wanting to know why Rodolfo has been cold to her. Suddenly Rodolfo shows up and Mimi hides.
Mimi learns that Rodolfo does love her but, as a poor poet, he is ashamed he can’t pay for her medicines and take care of her. Mimi is revealed to be in the room and they decide it best to split.
The final act finds the four roommates living together, happy and carefree, until Musetta bursts into their apartment with Mimi, who is dying. She wants to see Rodolfo and die with him. The other men leave to find money for medicine. Rodolfo and Mimi sing and reminisce. Mimi dies in Rodolfo’s arms as the men return.
French composer Georges Bizet created the widely recognized music to this popular opera in the mid-1870’s. It begins with our heroine Carmen, a sexy gypsy woman, is with the woman she works with at a cigarette factory is somewhere near the plant. Carmen sings and all the young men are captivated with her. Don Jose, a soldier, is the only man unmoved. She tried to entice him to no avail.
The woman all go back to the cigarette factory and Carmen is arrested for causing trouble, but she is able to charm Don Jose and get away. After a month in prison for letting Carmen escape is released from jail. He goes to meet her and brings her a flower.
Don Jose tells Carmen he loves her and she insists he not show up for roll call and stays with her. Against his better judgment, Don Jose does what she wishes and they get mixed up with some smugglers. The final act finds Jose with heartache and regret because Carmen has left him for Escamillo, a bullfighter.
That is when Micaela, Jose’s friend from childhood, visits him. Micaela tells Jose that his mother is serious health decline so he leaves to go home. A month later, Escamillo is in front of the bullfighting arena and enters while Carmen, his lover, waits in the square.
Jose confronts her and says she must be with him. Carmen rejects him and hurls a ring away that he gave her. In a fit of rage, Jose kills Carmen and finds himself confused by what he had done.
A little twist to this classic opera: the flamenco-version Carmen.
4. La Traviata
Written in 1853 by Giuseppe Verdi this popular Italian opera is hosted by the Met on a regular basis. Act one begins at a party in Violetta’s house. She is a popular prostitute.
Alfredo is a young man who has had eyes for Violetta for sometimes. He sings to her hoping to show how much he cares for her. Violetta becomes confused because she always felt true love was a luxury denied to a woman of her profession.
By the beginning of Act II Violetta has left her place and is living with Alfredo outside Paris. Yet, when Alfredo leaves the apartment, his father, Germont, insists she breaks up with his son because of her past. Violetta does what Alfredo’s father wants even though it breaks her heart.
She leaves without letting him know and Alfredo’s heart breaks because she betrayed him. Later that same evening, Violetta goes back to her old life and Alfredo confronts her there. Act III starts a few months later and Violetta is severely ill.
While her time on Earth is coming to an end, Alfredo comes to ask her forgiveness after learning the truth about his father’s pressure on her to break up with him. They proclaim their love just before Violetta dies.
La Traviata is now streamable! Watch over here.
5. The Barber of Seville
You may remember some of the music from Bugs Bunny, but the showings at the Met of The Barber of Seville are not cartoons. The plot starts with Dr. Bartolo is keeping his niece, Rosina, at his house with hopes of marrying her. He became her guardian after her parents passed away and they left her a large fortune. Bartolo has sights on the pretty girl and her money.
An aristocrat in Spain, Count Almaviva, hides his identity as Lindoro, a poor student, and falls in love with Rosina. But his is unable to see her because Bartolo keeps her under lock and key. Almaviva asks Figaro, a local barber, to help him see his love, Rosina. One plan where Almaviva dresses up as a drunken soldier doesn’t work well and they go back to the drawing board.
Almaviva then pretends to be a student of the music teacher Basilio, Bartolo’s closest friend, and the Count makes it into the house where he will find Rosina. When Almaviva sees her he promises to save her from Bartolo and marry her. But Bartolo becomes wise to their plan and tells Rosina that Lindoro plans to sell her to the Count Almaviva, not knowing they are one in the same.
Later that same night, Almaviva and Figaro break into Bartolo’s home and Rosina is angry with him, thinking he is Lindoro. Almaviva reveals the truth to her and she is relieved to know the truth. They marry in the room just in time before Bartolo gets there. But, when Almaviva gives Bartolo Rosina’s inheritance her uncle is happy.
Performance captured on cover photo is of Highlights from Don Giovanni at the Verbier Festival.