Metropolitan Opera series continues at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge with ‘The Nose’
Special to the Daily
Why attend an opera?
The Metropolitan Opera high-definition opera broadcasts, under the co-sponsorship of the National Repertory Orchestra and Colorado Mountain College, are now in their third year of production.
The question might be asked, “Why attend an opera?” The immediate response could be “for entertainment.” However, for the music lover, the remote visual and auditory access to the lilting solo arias and recitatives by casts of top singers selected from around the world, who perform on the Metropolitan Opera stage, goes far beyond mere escape from daily activities. Add to this the robust choral ensembles and a superb accompanying orchestra performed by professional instrumentalists, under the baton of high-class conductors.
In addition, those attending opera productions can assess how well the background staging, use of props, artwork and costuming portray the period of time representative of the opera story. In many current productions, the historical setting is moved up to modern 20th or 21st century using stage effects with up-to-date lighting and modern costume attire. This transfer of timing presents a challenge to each of the opera cast to sing and act the part and personality of the person being portrayed, now removed from historic context.
In a broader sense, for those attending the performance of an opera, the actions and interactions of the cast may bring back personal memories of real-life situations in which past ambitions may or may not have been realized or where potential successes of the future are re-enacted. The stage actions and music often provide for those attending a personal reconciliation or transformation of real-life situations to a higher level of acceptance.
Each of these attributes of opera presentations is professionally coordinated in the Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast performances. In addition to the actions of the opera itself, there are interviews with individual singers and conductors prior to the opening curtain time or during intermissions and brief tours of the backstage actions being performed in adjusting or changing the settings before or between acts.
The Eileen and Paul Finkle Auditorium at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge provides an intimate environment for close connection with all of the aspects reviewed above relative to opera and the Met HD productions. The visual representation of the camera effects and acoustics in this auditorium setting are outstanding. A community of Saturday opera-goers is evolving. All are invited to experience this communal camaraderie.
— Elmer W. Koneman
The contemporary opera “The Nose,” by the Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich, is the second live Metropolitan Opera high-definition broadcast of the season, showing at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge on Saturday at 11 a.m.
The story is based on a mid-19th century satirical short story by Nikolai Gogol and tells the story of a St. Petersburg official whose nose leaves his face to pursue a life of its own.
This 90-minute opera in three acts without an intermission traces the collegiate assessor Kovalyov (sung by baritone Paulo Szot) in pursuit of his nose after he awakens one morning to discover it to be missing, having visited his barber, Yakovlevich, the day before. Kovalyov first sees his nose in a local cathedral, transformed into life size, dressed in a paper machete puppet costume, playing the role of a state councilor. Now of such high rank, “The Nose” refuses to interact with its lower-class owner.
Kavalyov next appears in the police office and then at the newspaper, attempting without success to get assistance in recapturing his nose. In Act III, rumors have spread that the nose is on the loose in the city, and people rush about to catch a glimpse of it. The police arrive and attempt to restore order.
At a railway station on the outskirts of the city, the nose enters running, trying to stop the train. Everyone is in pursuit. The nose is finally arrested, beaten back to its normal size, wrapped in a piece of paper and returned to Kavalyov. After several unsuccessful attempts to replace his nose, Kavalyov awakens the next morning to find it again attached.
South African artist William Kentridge makes his Metropolitan debut as stage director and designer of this production. Except for the lead roles, several dozen people with short solo roles portray the escapades of mid-19th century czarist Russia. Kendrige uses a montage of projected background visual effects in sync with the music and stage actions — animations, super-imposed graphics, collages and images from the Soviet archives — to better portray Soviet society as described in Gogol’s story. The traditional opera fan, steeped in the flowing melodies and bel-canto singing of operas by Verdi, Puccini and Mozart, may find the adjustment to Schostakovich’s discordant music, with its pulsing, reedy woodwinds, snarling brasses and steely percussion, a bit difficult to assimilate. Yet, in a recent New York Times review, this production was described as “a wildly colorful and imaginative staging — a nonstop hour and a half of ingenious, delirious mayhem.”
As the three acts of this opera are performed in 95 minutes without an intermission, a snack lunch with beverages will be served after the final curtain call. Space has been reserved in one of the classrooms, where seating at tables will provide a space for lunch and for individuals to express in open discussion the staging and music of this opera.
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