As a first-time operagoer, I did not know what to expect when I bought a ticket to a highly acclaimed performance of “Turandot.” I thought, hey, this could be a new experience. A two hour show with a little singing and dramatic theatre—could be fun? Well, it turns out that operas are traditionally a few hours long with several intermissions and are entirely sung (and, even if you could understand the words at such a high pitch, the lyrics are generally in a language that is not English). And I loved every minute of it.
“Turandot” is only one of the many wonderful productions that the Metropolitan Opera is putting on this season. Considering I’m a student with no income, you wouldn’t think I could don on a mink fur coat over my floor length gown to have a night out at the opera. But like many places in New York, the Met Opera has a fantastic rush program that allows people to buy tickets at noon the day of the performance for as little as $25. The Met Opera also offers a Student Program. By registering with your student ID, you are able to reserve seats a week or two in advance for $35. Student and rush ticket seats are often available in the coveted Orchestra section, which normally range from $85 – $300. Even if neither option works out, most performances offer general discounted tickets (but usually for seats that necessitate binoculars). This makes attending one of these exciting productions very affordable and quite easy. (Still working on the fur coat and evening gown.
When I saw “Turandot,” I was completely mesmerized. An enticing and clever story, “Turandot” did not have a single dull moment. Each scene built on the drama and suspense of the plot—by the final Act, you are almost begging for the scene to finish just to find out how it ends. In the play, the famously beautiful Princess Turandot attracts many suitors from all across the land who wish to take her hand in marriage. The Princess, enraged by the murder and abuse of her ancestor at the hands of a foreign prince, proclaims she will not marry any man unless he answers three riddles. However, by law, failure to answer the riddle correctly costs the suitor his head. One man of course rises to the challenge—but in a surprising turn of events he sets his own condition as well. For the rest of the story, you will have to attend the opera yourself! Or just Wikipedia it now, as many of you will probably do.
The set came to life through vibrant colors depicting the Asian empire. In almost a minute, the cast and crew transformed scenes depicting streets to the majestic imperial palace in all its golden grandeur. When the lights turned on, I felt like a kid laying eyes upon Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom for the first time. The intricate detail and splendor of the set design were beyond impressive; they simply take your breath away. Throughout the production, the supporting dancers and singers brought together the striking scenery and the orchestra did a spectacular job in expressing the emotional turmoil each character faced (and I assure you, there is a lot). Even beyond the storyline, the sheer magnificence of the décor alone makes “Turandot” worth it.
So the next time you are looking for a cultural New York experience, you should consider going to an opera. After all, nothing feels more sophisticated than sipping a glass of champagne on the balcony of the Met Opera during intermission waiting for the next Act to begin.