Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
Random header image... Refresh for more!

The Tempest

This is not my first visit to the Opera (in fact it is my second). I have also seen Verdi’s Macbeth at the Opera in the spring season of 2012 (GREAT deals for students: for something like $32.50 you get seats at the back of the Grand Tier ($100+ price range)!

Anyway, about the Tempest: I unfortunately did not know the storyline. As is most often the case, I had trouble following the action on stage. It seemed disjointed, and at times chaotic. The orchestra, though not particularly musical, was effective at setting a dark, shadowy mood (though it was supposed to be a comedy?! Whatever.)

Obviously, the singers were very talented; to my (untrained) ears they hit notes with accuracy and meaning (the vibrato permeated the opera house). I am not going to say I liked hearing Ariel’s screaching, though I can appreciate the years of training it took to be able to ‘sing’ notes that high.

We were so high up in the Family Circle that I could not make out the costume designs. Based on the clips we saw in class, however, I know that it was terrific and well-thought out.

I haven’t seen a ‘real’ opera sung in English before (does Porgy and Bess count?) so it was interesting to hear music accompanying an English libretto. From what I hear, it diverged sharply from the original Shakespeare, and consequentially the words seemed awkward and unnatural.

With all honesty I enjoyed Macbeth far more than I did the Tempest. I feel like enumerating the similarities and differences for you:
Macbeth Verdi
-Italian -English
-Tragedy -Comedy
-Knew the story beforehand -Did not know the story beforehand
-Lyrical, Melodic -Disjointed, Chaotic

-Great costume, set design
-Adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays
-Lead singer is Baritone

There are plenty of elements to a good opera: music, costumes, lyrics, acting, dance, supporting cast, stageworks. They all have to come together to make a truly powerful work of art. For me, the Tempest did not hit the mark. I feel that all types of performance (Broadway, Opera, Orchestra, Ballet) may be compared because they share the same goal of entertaining the audience. In comparison with Verdi’s Macbeth, Porgy and Bess, and Carl Orff’s Carmina, the Tempest just didn’t have the same level of impact. Nevertheless, I look forward to my next visit to the Opera and to Lincoln Center; may it be a great experience!


There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment