But I Still Want Candy

Posted by Lizzie on 04/18/07

Probably not at all in answer to our earlier question, but happily nonetheless, Alex Ross has posted a little bit about the success of the Met’s new “The Met Goes to the Movies” initiative*, and the verdict, according to Variety at least, is…it is. We actually plunked down our $18 to see Renee Fleming in Eugene Onegin a few months ago (dragging along our real movie critic friend) and were really pleased with the HD-only elements: the unintentionally hilarious “Mikhail Baryshnikov Presents”-esque welcome clip; the behind-the-scenes film shown during intermission–suffice it to say the real-life Eugene REALLY has a crush on the real-life Renee–; and the funny faux-intermission stereo chatter and orchestral tuning with a shot of the real interior of the Met and attendant milling crowds.

Two issues, however, the first HUGE HUGE. HUGE! Okay. It was bizarre that the fake intermission CHATTER was in stereo, but not the OPERA. What the hell. Also, although ostensibly the point of these Opera in HD events is to open up the most popular operas–which mostly sell out early to subscribers, save the $400 seats–to families and young people, at Eugene Onegin in Union Square, OH and companion were the youngest people there, easily, by about 58 hundred years. The entire audience was, unsurprisingly, made up of plus-58-hundred-year-old Russians. This is, last we checked, the same crowd you see at the actual Met. (Also, it forced OH to remember how she never paid enough attention to the former BOOG when he was talking on the phone and could only manage one random “Charosho” to her seatmate when seatmate confided that Renee Fleming is a “greater artist” than Anna Netrebko. правда.)

WHY is the audience all 908 years old? First of all, last we checked, the Met didn’t advertise this ANYWHERE but on classical radio stations. We saw nothing at any school, nothing on any event email like Flavorpill or Mug or UrbanEye or VSL (okay we have NOT factchecked this, but we missed it if it was); just one or two articles in the paper for the first Times Square simulcast. The Met doesn’t let you download the calendar to iCal or subscribe your Googlecal, they don’t send you reminders to buy tickets, finding out when or where a performance is going to be ahead of time is impossible, there’s like EIGHTEEN steps to go through to Fandango to get tickets, and there’s no performances at NIGHT, when young people like to head out, lest they feel like, you know, EIGHT-HUNDRED YEAR-OLD RETIREES. And there’s candy, not alcohol. Keep the candy, of COURSE, but have a big party and serve alcohol! Young people like alcohol and parties, because then there might be sex and a reason to buy new shoes! Like the 92nd Street Y! Basically, stop leaning on the candy, is what we’re saying.

For your viewing pleasure, below, two clips making up the infamous “Letter Scene” from Onegin, wherein Fleming somehow manages both to convincingly play 17 and to get across that peculiar mix of nausea and giddy hysteria that comes when you are in l-o-v-e LOVE with no chance of it going anything but tremendously badly, poor fool. If you have twenty minutes, do watch them–it’s the simulcasttelecast, only TEENY.

(If you don’t speak French [Or Russian, ninny.–Ed], essentially she says, “I am going to write this man and tell him I love him, even though it is the dumbest thing I have done yet in my short life. Don’t be mean about it, okay? Tra-la!”)

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Also, we think it would be neat–yes, we said neat–if a real movie critic and music critic attended the entire series and wrote about it. Instead of this, which lost us at “I’m not an opera critic.” (Okay, at “Keillor.”) If someone has and we missed it, please point us to the early adopters.

* We have no idea why we keep calling it an “initiative”. “Campaign”? “Concatenation”? Whatever.

UPDATE: Ooo, Alex has pointed to this post from An Unamplified Voice, which worries whether performers will start playing to the camera now. (This is, as the writer points out, a hilariously moot point when discussing Anna Netrebko. We know, you don’t care about opera! We don’t care about you!) We still think it would be interesting for a critic to do an opera-for-the-masses analysis/critique, though.

To be serious for one second, where are these new subscribers going to come from? Look at the 2007-2008 season’s prices for a Wednesday….actually, the Family Circle is quite reasonable. It’s not that bad to be up that high, either–the bathrooms are emptier, and your coughing resonates less. We take everything back, except the part where we remember how we’ve signed up for the newsletter something like 18 times and have yet to receive ANYTHING.

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