5.10.2010

New York high life

Sempre libera degg´io
folleggiare di gioia in gioia,
vo´che scorra il viver mio
pei sentieri del piacer.
Nasca il giorno, o il giorno muoia,
sempre lieta ne´ ritrovi,
a diletti sempre nuovi
dee volare il mio pensier...*

Late, as usual: On our recent trip to New York, we had tickets to La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera, a markedly different event than the previous evening's Penny Arcade Experience.

Our tickets were in the nosebleed seats and it was like watching an opera from four stories up, but the opera house has good acoustics and the production featured a full orchestra.

Jeff and Eva dressed up and on the town (it's rare for me to post this kind of photo here, they usually show up in my facebook account).

Sweeping staircases and lots of Swarovski crystal.

The seats were not for the acrophobic.

This was the last Metropolitan Opera production of a very traditional La Traviata. Next season the Met launches a new sexed-up version more suited for modern tastes (clips here) :

On one hand Violetta is supposed to be a famous courtesan so a sexier production can be justified because what was titillating and scandalous in 1860 is not so shocking now.

I read, however, that the new production also features the character of death, watching from the wings -- a completely modern addendum not included in Verdi original. I shouldn't judge something I haven't seen but that seems quite unnecessary -- anyone with any familiarity with the form and the liberetto isn't going to expect Violetta and Alfredo to get married and live happily ever after at the conclusion of the third act. It's a tragic Italian opera -- the heroine dies at the end, in her lover's arms.

After great weather in New York for the first days of our trip, Sunday turned out gray, chill and rainy. I wanted to see the Cartier-Bresson exhibit at MoMA but the museum was also running a exhibition on Tim Burton which led to huge lines to get in... so we trudged up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art instead.

Given that it was such a damp day many thousands had the same idea but the museum is a vast space -- one could spend months there, and still discover previously unseen treasures -- so it wasn't too bad once inside.

All in all New Yorkers were nice and it was fairly easy to get around the city but I thought that the city seemed a bit down on its luck and shabby: A post-9/11, post-financial meltdown hangover of sorts.

The trip also brought back memories for me because I had last taken the train down the Hudson Valley in the late 80's when I was a college student in Poughkeepsie: The landscape hasn't changed too much in the intervening years -- the upper Hudson River valley in New York didn't look particularly prosperous then, and it doesn't look prosperous now.

*Translation:
Free and aimless I frolic
From joy to joy,
Flowing along the surface
of life's path as I please.
As the day is born,
Or as the day dies,
Happily I turn to the new delights
That make my spirit soar...

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