So you want to know what I've been spending a lot of my time with lately? Opera. Yes - opera. Last year I worked at Carnegie Hall and I was able to see several concerts there. I am currently working for the Metropolitan Opera and have seen a lot of opera. Before I started working there I had a friend who took me all the time, so this little opera affair has been going on for most of 2009. A significant difference between going to a concert at a venue like Carnegie Hall and seeing an opera is the amount of time that it takes. You can go to Carnegie and be out in an hour and a half. An opera is just getting started at an hour and a half! Attending an opera requires an entire evening - it is an event. Which is great! But, it does take up a chunk of time.
Now, I would say the average opera clocks in at around 3 hours. That includes an intermission where you can walk around, mingle, show off your fancy earrings and eat an over-priced cookie. Some operas are a little longer, some a little shorter. But there is this special phenomenon that happens every now and then called the Ring Cycle. I don't want to get into it too much, BUT basically, for those who don't know, Wagner wrote this series of operas (4) that make up the cycle. These operas take huge orchestras (HUGE - he even created instruments specifically for this thing!) and require major productions and are performed (usually) within the span of a week. AND they are much longer than "regular" operas. The Met is currently in the midst of Ring season. This happens every few years - people flock from all over the world to spend night after night at the opera house watching these performances. The first one is only about 2 1/2 hours long and they increase until the last one is a whopping 6 hours long. Ring fans are a breed of their own. These are serious fans. You'd have to be, right? In order to devote about 15 hours to one opera? In one week? Yes, it is broken into four nights, but it's really one huge story. Think Lord of the Rings, opera style. Everyone knows some of the Ring. Click on this to be reminded:
If you are not a serious Wagner fan, the only reason you would put yourself through all this madness is that you are either curious or crazy - or some combination of the three. Anyway - the whole reason I am blabbing about Wagner and Ring Cycle is that today I accomplished the task of watching the entire final opera. All 6 hours of it! Yikes! It was the final dress rehearsal before the Saturday opening performance and they gave us tickets. I was only going to go to the first act (11:00-1:00), but got sucked in and didn't end up leaving until the final curtain at 5:15. Wow. It was pretty amazing and I can add that to my list to say "I've done it". It was great and so epic - the end of the world kind of a thing. But 6 hours! Come on! And just in case you are wondering, I have also seen the first two operas of the cycle. Missed the third, but it will come around again and I will probably catch it just so I can insanely claim to have seen the entire Ring Cycle.
Enough. I leave you with a picture taken 4 years ago. I was visiting New York and had my picture taken in front of the opera house. I had no idea what was to come - I hadn't even been in the building yet...