Smithsonian Journeys Director Amy Kotkin with Study Leader Arthur Kaplan
I am scribbling notes for this blog from Orchestra Prime seat G22 at the Metropolitan Opera. The gorgeous Swarovski crystal chandeliers have begun their ascent to the ceiling of this vast and grand auditorium, the lights are dimming, the maestro is about to appear in the orchestra pit.
Our Smithsonian travelers – 25 of us who have gathered from all over the country for four days of opera – are totally primed to experience the magnificent Renée Fleming as Thäis – a fourth-century Egyptian courtesan who is transformed into a true believer by a monk and enters a convent somewhere deep in the Sahara desert. The monk, Athaneal, belatedly acknowledges his love for her and is tormented by his unrequited passion. Not a likely story? Well, they seldom are – but with 19th-century opera, we are talking about grand emotions and larger than life characters, not cinema verité. (more…)