I have wanted to see an opera at New York's Metropolitan Opera pretty much since I got into opera (my freshman year of college), and Michael and I finally made it happen for our birthdays a couple of weeks ago!
I hadn't seen Michael since shortly before I moved, at, of course, an opera...he's my go-to classical music/opera friend, and I had missed him (and the opera world!) terribly since heading west. We planned the trip way back in October when we found out the Met was staging Wagner's "Parsifal." Wagner is Michael's favorite composer, and I've rapidly been seduced by his lush orchestration and larger-than-life operas. "Parsifal," a 6-hour telling of a Holy Grail legend sung in German, is definitely not for the faint of heart, but I couldn't have been more excited to go balls-to-the-wall on my first Met experience.
A rookie mistake on our parts: after staying up way too late on Friday drinking champagne and eating doner kebab post-"Hamilton," we were moving a bit slow on Saturday morning. Add to that a snafu with the subway ("you have to go downtown to get uptown today!") and you have the two of us arriving with only twenty minutes to curtain and no breakfast in us. YIKES.
Nothing could dull my joy at finally being at Lincoln Center, however - especially with bright sunshine and beautiful views! (Please also note that I am incredibly on-trend and wore a jumpsuit to the Met - dressing for a daytime opera is no mean feat!)
Of course, a selfie with the famed Met chandeliers was necessary.
The moment that the chandeliers in the theater rose as the overture began was, to me, the perfect culmination of months (years) of looking forward to this experience. The atmosphere at the Met is one of indescribable luxury and opulence - velvet walls, the sparkling crystal, the gilded boxes. I could not wipe the grin off my face!
As for "Parsifal:" the production we saw was DARK. The sparse staging, elaborate background projections, and monochromatic color scheme kept my focus on the stunning vocals and orchestra (we were incredibly lucky to be the first audience to see Yannick Nézet-Séguin conduct after his appointment to serve as the Met's music director next year!). Seeing famed bass (and Michael fave) René Pape sing Gurnemanz was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and demon-woman Kundry and Parsifal were also masterfully sung.
The second act took place on a stage flooded with "blood" as Parsifal wrestles with temptation surrounded by a horde of demonic women, splashing eerily through the river and thoroughly saturating themselves in the process. It is DARK, and evocative, and incredibly riveting. The entire production held me spellbound, but the second act seemed to fly by just because I was so gripped by the visual spectacle coalescing with the opera itself.
After all that blood, the second intermission called for a little bubbly...
As the opera ended, leaving me thoroughly euphoric, we exited the theater to see a picture-perfect snowfall framed by the Met's dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows. I just about up and died - this was the first snowfall I had seen all year, and it just seemed too fairy-tale serendipitous to be real, on top of the whole day of dreams coming true.
Naturally, we importuned a fellow opera-goer to snap a photo for us, and I think it speaks for itself - it's kind of hard to miss the utter delight in my squinted-up-with-laughter eyes.
Thoroughly ravenous, we hopped across the street to Epicerie Boulud, where we killed time with a bottle of champagne before getting seats at the Bar Boulud "family table." An utter delight of a meal followed: chatting en Francais with the couple on one side of us, discussing opera with the couple on the other side and their grandkids, and exchanging information for this summer's San Francisco Ring Cycle, which they are also attending! Not to mention Michael enjoying "the best duck a l'orange he's ever had" while I died over the perfect orecchiette.
After dinner (and another bottle of wine, oops) we had the bright and brilliant idea to enjoy the snow and walk from the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side through Central Park for a post-dinner cocktail at Bemelman's Bar (thanks for the tip, Shannon!). Only issue? Yours truly, who is already known for her grace and poise, was wearing heels - three-inch suede stilettos with no platform, to be specific. Needless to say, we had an adventure slipping and sliding and taking our sweet time on the walk. By the time we reached Bemelman's, we were soaked through and I couldn't stop laughing at how utterly ridiculous the situation was. Those (brand-new) shoes? Pretty much ruined, and they dyed my feet a shocking shade of hot pink in the bargain...it may not have been "Parsifal" blood, but it looked ridiculous for the next four days before I finally got the stains out with nail polish remover. SO WORTH IT, THOUGH.
At Bemelman's, we enjoyed a little live jazz before heading downtown to catch one of my faves, the Gerald Clayton Quintet, at the Jazz Standard! Once they wound down, we traded champagne cocktails for tequila at a little cocktail bar around the corner, and headed home, still in the snow, around 2am. All in all, an absolutely ridiculous, amazing, fairy-tale first Met experience...thinking it may need to be an annual thing going forward!
See more 101 in 1001 here...and for more opera love, check back in June as we attend my first Ring Cycle with the San Francisco Opera!!