Opera is the grandest of art forms. Part of the thrill of attending a performance is to sit in a glorious theater built just for that purpose, knowing that the greatest voices of the past and present have been heard there. The most important of these theaters—in Milan, Vienna, London, Paris, Barcelona, and New York—have a distinctive character and history that has profoundly affected the evolution of opera.
Opera expert Fred Plotkin examines these fabled houses, focusing on what makes each of them unique and significant. Using audio and video recordings and illustrations, he evokes the glamour and fascination that surround them, the cities that built them, and the legendary artists who performed on their stages.
Plotkin, author of Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, lectures for the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the New York Philharmonic.
The Metropolitan Opera, New York
America’s leading opera company performs in its best opera house, the legendary Met. In fact, there have been two of them, the 1883 Old Met and the New Met that replaced it in 1966. Everything done there, onstage and off, is fodder for the intensely passionate and opinionated New Yorkers who are its core audience. The Met—old and new—has been a pioneer in technology and outreach, with its worldwide radio broadcasts, live television performances, and since 2006, screenings of productions seen by millions in movie theaters around the globe. What is often overlooked is that the Met is a place of real beauty, with paintings by Marc Chagall, gold ceilings, Austrian crystal chandeliers, and beautiful African rosewood, whose resonance gives this auditorium of nearly 4000 seats perhaps the best acoustics of any major opera house.
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S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)