Saturday, November 22, 2008


While a sizable chunk of the 12 to 25-year-old female population probably went to see Twilight this weekend, I decided that I’d skip the sparkly vampires and go watch some opera.

The Metropolitain Opera does this really cool thing, were it broadcasts their operas live in HD to some movie theatres. This is pretty goddamn awesome as it cuts out all the things that make me not go to watch opera (dressing up and cost, but I also get subtitles which is a huge plus).

Today they were showing La Damnation de Faust. I can’t comment on the music or the quality of the performance in greater detail than to say that it was enjoyable, OMG was Susan Graham amazing as Marguerite, and the amount of choral music was a huge bonus. What I can talk about is the amazing staging of the opera, particularly in regard to the technology used.

The stage was set up as a multi-storey grid of sorts with projections. During the intermission they gave us a quick rundown of how it was all done, which is where it gets really cool. They set the stage up so that there are two “walls” with images projected onto them and the singers in between. The projections would change in accordance to the movement of characters and the music, but it wasn’t some preset sequence. No, according to the explanations given, they used infra-red detection among other things to actually have the projected images react to the body heat of the singers. This was used to very good effect after “Nature immense, impénétrable et fière” when Mephistopheles tells Faust that Marguerite killed her mother. The scene has a background of trees and as Mephistopheles approaches Faust the trees lose their leaves and die. Really ominous looking stuff and very fitting.

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