Manon at the Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is one of the most prestigious opera companies in the world.  Known simply as “the Met,” they put on about 27 different productions during their nine-month season, staging up to seven performances of four different operas each week.  (In contrast, the Utah Opera puts on four performances total a year.)  The best of the best perform at the Met and the opera house is as enchantingly beautiful as one would expect.

Lincoln Center
Outside of the Met in the Lincoln Center.
The Grand Staircase at the Met.

Someone once told me that most opera houses were designed for people-watching and every one I’ve been to fits that mold.  At the Met, it is especially obvious that you are there to see and be seen.  The foyer is open to several levels of balconies that overlook a spiraling staircase, filled with people watching the parade of opera-goers as they arrive.  Several bars offers liquor, wine and champagne–if you’re willing to pay for it; my glass of rosé champagne was $17.

The stage and balconies inside the Met.

Inside the Met is an even more breathtaking sight.  Six levels of seating tower towards a golden ceiling.  There are 3,800 seats and 195 standing room spaces.  The stage reaches just as high and it appears that the music could never reach the heavens of the top tier.  Having sat at the top (called the Family Circle) during my first time at the Met (for the 17-hour Ring Cycle in 2009), I assure you that the sound is beautiful even up there.
Electronic subtitles are personally broadcasted on the seat in front of you, allowing people to choose the language of the translations or turn them off altogether.  (Most opera companies project translations above the stage, but this could not be done at the Met because the stage is so high.)

The beautiful chandeliers: during daylight and nighttime.

For the production of Manon, I sat in the Dress Circle section, the third level of the theater.  (Tickets range from $127-$260.)  The man next to me said it was his favorite section because the music of the orchestra and the singers blend perfectly.  I couldn’t disagree; the music was incredible.
Famed soprano Anna Netrobko sang the role of Manon, one of her signature roles, and was exquisite.  (Check out this clip of her singing in this production of Manon a few weeks ago at the Met.)  Several arias sent shivers down my spine and brought tears to my eyes.  That overwhelming feeling of beauty that resonates deep within my soul during the opera is why I love it so much.

The glowing Met at night during the last intermission.
If you ever get a chance to be in New York City during opera season, I urge you to skip the Broadway play and see an opera at the Met.  Tickets in the Family Circle (the top tier) range from $30-$50 and standing room tickets are just $17–just make sure the opera isn’t one of the 5+ hour ones!
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