Going to the Met is not just the opera, there’s intermission.  So, for Part III, a pause to look around while at the Saturday matinee.

It was a gorgeous day– sunny, west coast weather.  We spent both intermissions outside, which led me to realize, as I was looking at Lincoln Center’s plaza & the Met, that I hadn’t described the opera house other than to say it’s enormous.  The building’s footprint is more than 400 feet deep and about 150 feet wide.  This includes the lobby, seating area, stage & backstage.  The front of the stage is near the middle of the building.  And, to give this an Eph connection, the Met Opera House sits where West Side Story (lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) takes place.  As part of urban renewal in the sixties, this part of the West Side was demolished in order to create Lincoln Center.

As we leave the plaza & enter the Met, we walk between two Chagall murals, nearly the height of the lobby, that face the plaza.  We descend into the lobby under a Swarovski chandelier that was recently refurbished in honor of the Met’s 125th anniversary season.  Continuing through the lobby to get to our seats, we pass a large bar where you can have a flute of champagne, other beverages, sandwiches, & dessert.  Entering the back of the orchestra section, where the standing room area is, the first thing one sees is the enormous curtain, a square of gold damask that is about 6 stories high.  (The proscenium is 54′ x 54′. 

As we walk down the aisle, aware that EB readers were interested in the audience, my companion spots one man wearing a pink sports jacket & another with a coral golf sweater, unique choices for the audience.  I’m aware of the multitude of people.  Looking up, there are tier-after-tier of filled box seats.  The house can hold an audience of nearly 4000, including the standing room areas, which translates into 5 U-shaped tiers, with the highest tier capped with a deep, steep balcony. 

As you can imagine, this is a plush house, with red carpet & red velvet upholstered seats.  Above us beside the 2nd tier of boxes on both sides of the house are a row of chandeliers designed like a star burst or constellation.  They are spaced like clusters on an invisible necklace along the side boxes and the grand tier at the back of the house.  A few minutes before curtain these chandeliers rise to the height of the main chandelier in the middle of the gold leafed ceiling. 

We sit on the side under the rising chandeliers.  The thing with winning this lottery is we help fill the house.  Our seats are choice (we’re not under the boxes), but not prime (in the middle of the orchestra).  Where we sit for each opera varies, unlike those who subscribe to the cycle.  Some of these subscribers are true regulars or die-hard Ring fans.  On the first day of the cycle we heard ushers greet people, welcoming them back.  I’ve also heard that matinee attendees are very loyal.  Some come in for the entire weekend.  I assume they are fading away because the reason for the drawing was that this cycle was undersold.

Intermissions are long, 20 to 30 minutes, enough time to eat a meal.  One can enjoy an expensive multi-course lunch or dinner in the restaurant next to the outdoor balcony Those who donate to the Met have a lounge to hobnob in.  There’s enough time to dash out and go shopping, either at the Met’s gift shop or across the street.  Some of you might remember Texaco, which years ago sponsored the afternoon radio broadcasts of the Met season.  (Ronit mentioned listening to Das Rheingold, obviously care of another sponsor.)  According to an insert in the program, there’s a special room where members of the audience can watch this intermission chit-chat.  As I recall, sometimes there’s a contest, like name that tune.

During intermission, I was able to see more people.  Because the weather was really delightful people were wandering on the plaza & congregating on the outdoor balcony.  The most striking couple were two women on the balcony.  One was dressed in a well fitted tuxedo jacket.  The other in a lovely light frock.  They were so engulfed with one another that it brought to mind Tristan & Isolde.  Or, for those familiar with the Ring & Part II- Siegmund & Sieglinde, and in Part III, Siegfried & Brunhilde. 

I also saw a few long gowns, including an elegant pale celadon green caftan.  Most of the men were in conservative sports jackets.  At night there might be more men in business suits.  In general, people seemed more at their leisure than during the evening performances.  But, this might be due to the lovely afternoon.  One big difference, during the performance, is that everyone seemed to stay to the end.  In the evening often there are empty seats because people leave early.

As we left, I heard the usual range of foreign languages, both European and Asian.  In contrast to the evening, I didn’t see any children.  I guess they were out playing ball a couple blocks away in Central Park.

Print  •  Email