Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Stuarda Adventure

What Just happened yesterday? I mean whow! I was blown away!
Let me start from the beginning, I live in Santos, a cool seaside city in Brasil, there aren’t movie theatres here that have Live in HD transmition. Actually there are only 2 movie theatres in the WHOLE STATE OF SÃO PAULO that have the Metropolitan’s Live in HD Transmitions. So I had a long journey ahead of me if I wanted to watch Maria Stuarda, but that didn’t bother me, for opera, and especially good opera sung by amazing people and incredible productions I can endure almost anything.
First Scene from the Metropolitan Opera’s
 production of Maria Stuarda
I got my best friend (who also happens to be the director of the theatre group I take part in) to go with me. The journey started off with me waiting for madam to brush his precious hair and ended up meeting my History Music teacher in front of my friend’s house, which is odd since my teacher is not from my town. We left my friend’s house at 12:30 (the transmition was scheduled to start at 3:55 pm) and it wasn’t until 1:00 pm that the bus finally arrived, to take us to São Paulo.
BUT, there was a HUGE traffic jam in the road and we took an hour and 50 minutes to get to São Paulo and it normally took an hour only. I was freaking out, desperate, I kept praying and promising stuff to God if I was able to get there in time. At 2:50pm I was at the metro station almost giving birth to my lungs! The metro ride lasted, as I had expected, 40 minutes and then me and my friend started looking for the right bus stop. But it was raining a lot, we finally gave up and took a cab that took us to the mall. I was breathless and almost doing it in my pants but we managed to get there before it began at 3:54 pm.!
The sound of the orchestra tuning and the people chatting at the Met was like a breath of fresh air, I WAS HOME! I entered the movie theatre jumping like a child and my friend got the atmosphere quite quickly, it’s very electrifying and especially for us, both theatre lovers. At the moment we sat down the lights dimmed and the screen showed there were 5 minutes to curtain. My heart was beating so fast, so exciting!

Elza Van Den Heever as Elisabeth and Matthew Polenzani as Leicester

I was tweeting frantically and then that trailer of the opera showing all the soloists began and I immediately started crying and I saw nothing but that blessed screen that brought (if only for a couple of hours) the Met closer to me. Come on they put the Prayer to play during that trailer and I’d only seen the snippets from the opera at the Met’s site so it was a like a little glimpse into what I was about to watch and there were just too many emotions for me not to cry! I was so glad Deb Voigt was presenting, she’s such a lovely host!

The opera began and right in first notes I was transported, I find the overture absolutely amazing especially the motive, the punctuated rhythm (oh God I’m kind of translating without really knowing my Portuguese musical vocabulary) just grabs you by the collar and demands your attention, it’s terrific!
I was pleasantly surprised by Elza Van Den Heever’s Elisabeth, I already knew her voice was amazing and contrary to general opinion I find her voice most beautiful. It is without a doubt different, but it’s rich and so delicious to listen to. But the voice wasn’t what surprised me, it was the acting, I thought she was playing Elisabeth as a hard to like person, almost a villain. I probably thought that because of the confrontation video I’d seen of her, she didn’t look very friendly, but after being called a Vil Bastarda no one is gonna seem to be too nice. I sympathized A LOT with her Elisabeth; you can see the suffering in her eyes on the duet with Leicester, although I was so hopping she’d hit him with something when she asked him if Maria was pretty and he said yes and she goes “SI? SI? SI?”. The whole strange walk thing was at last unmystified on Elza’s interview and after a few minutes didn’t really bother me as much as I thought it would.
Joyce DiDonato as Maria Stuarda

Then Joyce walked in gorgeous and shimmering light, how does she do that with her eyes? She acts with her eyes it’s incredible! They shone in an incredible way, you could almost see the weary pupils shine from the outdoor bliss she was feeling after being locked up for years! The excellency of Joyce’s singing was just as the doctor prescribed and I thought it was so cool that she made Maria her own. It was her interpretation of Maria Stuarda and not some stereotyped model of what Maria was. So she felt very real, a real human being as opposed to a saint like person that some people paint her as.
The confrontation scene was almost maddening! It was amazing how in the moment they first saw each other I felt that all the oxygen from the movie theatre had been drained. And at that moment I was much reminded of what Joyce had said in a post in her blog at the same day, that they in their own way were both right and that what they were saying wasn’t untrue. The scene was astounding, better than what I had imagined. In a vlog review I saw today the girl was saying that yesterday Joyce let out much more rage at her “Figlia impura di Bolena” than in the performance she had seen.

Joyce DiDonato as Maria Stuarda and Elza Van Den Heever as Elisabeth in the famous confrontation scene

I love the interviews part! And especially with such a sweet and super cool host it’s even better. Joyce was kinda breathless but was amazing as always and said a lot of the things she had mentioned on her blog which I found very cool. And when she gave the shout out to the fans I just couldn’t resist, not only did I wave, no, I let out a big “UHUL!” and my friend followed me by sending kisses to the screen and saying “Joyce, we love you! You’re awesome!” (And need I remind you that this was his first time watching a full length opera).  
Elza Van Den Heever as Elisabeth in the second act
Elza’s interview also took me by surprise because she was so sweet, it’s probably because her character is not sweet at all! She was also kinda breathless (I don’t blame them, I mean, did you just see what they did on stage a couple of seconds ago?) but so very nice and finally explaining why she was walking like a dude. And when you come to think of it, it does make sense, the director wanted to show the audience that these women were completely different, even in the manner of walking! And the fact that she was super excited about her shaving her head for the role and showing Deb how the wig looked so perfect because of it made me want to be her best friend. So sweet!
Well intermission went on fast because I was tweeting frenetically. The second act destroyed me, it just did. Right on the first look we get at it, with Elisabeth without her wig with what was left of her hair and wearing that heavy makeup in that HUGE dress, sources (YouTube) tell me it weighs 50 pounds! The scene of the signing of the death warrant was very really tense, Leicester still quite dumbly trying to persuade her not to sign it and just the whole death issue made the scene heavy in a good way.
Joyce DiDonato as Maria Stuarda

I loved the way Joyce played the slightly older and much more troubled Maria; she had a hand shaking quiver that worked so well. The death sentence, as Joyce said, seemed to come as relief to Mary and after confessing, such a powerful scene, she was ready to face her destiny. The prayer just killed me, I was crying like a baby! Such powerful music, and such devotion, it’s all intertwined by a brilliant chorus coach that really gave great thought to the little nuances of the music and the result took my breath away! It was almost time for Maria to be executed and she pardons the Queen for having send her to death, and with no hard feelings she goes to meet her destiny. When the ladies started undressing her so she was only wearing the red dress I was a mess and I wasn’t expecting that they would take off her wig as well, the sight was very shocking. And we had Maria as she was, no ornaments, no nothing, bare, broken, terrified but also brave and spiritually ready to die. When she walked up those steps my crying became audible, and then I let out a huge sigh like “Oh Jesus, that was soooo…” I couldn’t even describe it.

It was really one of the best things I’ve ever seen, it was certainly the best live in HD I’d ever seen. God, I LOVE OPERA! And now my other friends are super curious and want to go, so I’m taking quite a gang with me to watch Rigoletto next month! VICTORY IS MINE!    

1 comment:

  1. That's dedication! Going to Sao Paulo at all is dedication!