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For my first opera experience I can honestly say Cosi fan tutte was a lot better then what I was expecting. As a kid I grew up despising opera under the belief that it was for old people. As it turns out it is not. What I experienced at the Met Opera was unbelievable and outstanding. The drama was real, the story was real, and low and behold, at 18 years of age, I was very much entertained, and I’m not an old person.

Luckily, I was able to take a backstage tour, prior to the performance itself, with non other than the young star Danielle de Niese, who plays Despina. As part of the interview and tour, Niese informed us that she was the youngest star at the Met when they first signed her and that, in her humble opinion, she believes opera is the most rewarding and challenging performance art around. Based on what I saw, I’d have to agree. In many instances, the singers were in contorted positions, lying down, or simply off balance while singing, and yet they were able to naturally project their voices high into the rafters without assistance, a truly amazing feat.

Aside from just talking about opera, Niese also took us onto the stage and her dressing room. The stage at the Met was absolutely humbling in terms of size. You could easily fit whole apartment buildings back there and no one would ever know. They even have an elevator that goes down several stories to a secret floor where they can keep old set-pieces. In all, the size of the stage was so grand that I almost felt as if I was outside, the realistic tree setup for Cossi fan tutte added to this feeling as well. On the other hand though, Niese’s dressing room was quite cramped and small. I was very surprised and it was quite hot in there as well. I don’t know if it was because there were a lot of us or if that’s how it always is, regardless though, the dressing rooms seemed sub-par when compared with the granduer of the rest of the place. Overall though, the backstage tour was amazing.

As for the performance itself, It was amazing. Most amazing of all, however, was the actors abilities to project their voices in a way that doesn’t seem humanly possible and to volumes that are almost deafening. All of this was accomplished without any type of microphone or audio enhancer and yet it was clearer, louder and more realistic than any enhanced voice I’ve ever heard. It truly was remarkable to hear a human voice reach high notes, and pitches at extreme volumes, while the singers faces seemed nonchalant, as if to make it seem easy. On top of this, the set seemed so realistic at times that it actually had me guessing how they managed to make it look so real, despite the fact that I had seen it all backstage earlier on in the day.

Overall, the singing, the story, the set, and the whole experience (especially seeing all the rich people there) were all enriching and amazing. I will definitely be going back to the opera in the future, and I can honestly say I no longer despise it like I did as a child. Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and Danielle de Niese both helped me to overcome my childhood prejudices against opera and instead embrace it as a truly wonderful performance art form.

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