Sunday, March 3, 2013


This has been quite the weekend filled with lots of excitement. The fun started on Saturday where a bunch of great things happened: I got to visit with one of my best friends, Sarah, and her husband (We went to Lime Red for bubble tea!) and Seth, his friend, Patrick, and I all went out for tapas and opera.
Seth and I have been living in the Amherst/Northampton area for almost ten years now, and we had never been to the Academy of Music in Northampton. The Academy of Music is a historic theatre, built in the late 19th century. It's a location for live art (theatre, dance, music) as well as film and art education.
Early last month I was excited to see a flier for an opera, Armida, that was coming to the Academy in early March. Seth, Patrick (who would be out visiting that weekend), and I all decided to go, and I purchased us tickets.
Armedia was billed as a Baroque pastiche in the mode of the Met Opera's The Enchanted Island. Since Seth and I had loved The Enchanted Island, we were very excited to see Armida.
We started out our night with a fun trip to Ibiza Tapas and then headed off to the opera.
Armida was a very interesting experience. It was more modern than the opera that we were used to, having basically seen only Met Opera. The first interesting thing was that the turn-out for the opera was quite small. The Academy looks like it can hold around 800 people. There were max three dozen in the audience for Armida.
The opera was experienced in three acts, with an intermission after the first act, and totalled around two and a half hours. The singers were definitely of mixed talent. The lead soprano was excellent, but the male leads were less stellar.
The opera did not have a plot but was commentary about dreams and reality presented in a non-linear format. The opera seemed to take inspiration from Greek myth and other sources, although there was no plot summary or notes in the program to indicate exactly what the opera was drawing from. The Baroque music was excellent, but the lack of cohesive plot was a bit jarring for us, being used to traditional opera as we are.
A barrier to appreciating the opera was the libretto. The libretto was displayed on a screen over the stage, a good strategy in theory. Unfortunately, from our seats in the balcony, the top line of the libretto was completely obscured. We ended up moving down to the orchestra level for the second two acts of the opera as a result. The translation of the libretto seemed a confused and the lines were occasionally not presented at the correct time (meaning the singer would be ahead of or behind the libretto).

All in all, the opera was definitely a good experience. The music was great. There was definitely a focus on arias -- I would have loved to hear some more duets for example, but maybe arias are more a focus of Baroque music. It was a fun evening out, and a great opportunity to explore part of our community.

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