NOTE – I used Google voice to text for transcription, so there may be parts of this story (as well as other parts of the blog) that are not proof-read. If you find any of these parts, please let me know!
The opera at Teatro alla Scala was quite an experience. The the orchestra was impeccable, as well as the performers. One thing that amazed me was that prior to the start of the performance, as the lights slowly went down the whole theater hushed – completely quiet. There were no cell phones on, you could tell because the theater was very dark and you can typically see the glow of a cell phone if it’s on and being used.
If live music (such as rock or blues) feeds on audience participation and feedback, then opera is quite opposite I found the audience to be very respectful.
I took Uber (less than perfect in Milan) from my hotel to the opera. I got there early and was lucky enough to have a light meal before the opera. I didn’t eat all day so a bruschetta snack and a glass of wine hit the spot.
The seats are numbered, I had a ticket which appears to have the section and row similar to what we might find it the baseball stadium but it was quite a surprise when the usher led me to down a hall to a room with a balcony, a room with five chairs. In the room already seated were a family, mom / dad and their son. Their seats were the better seats so they were in the front of the little cubicle type room. After the usher showed me my seat, she closed the door as the performance was about to begin.
I could see the Opera from the middle of the room if I sat up and watched, it was a pretty good view. Although the seats were cheap seats they were fine as there are really no bad seats in the Teatro Alla Scala.
The stage was tremendous and it had multiple levels. During the performance the crew would rearrange the levels with different rooms adjacent to each other. The mini-stages were above and below each – vertical and horizontal curtains were used to focus attention on the different parts of the stage. There were upper and lower levels. On the right hand side there were three different levels and on the left there were two larger stages at different levels. Our seats were on the fourth floor so we could see the upper levels of the stage quite well.
The performers at times would harmonize in addition to singing a-capella and the story was told with very few props. They were used to help tell the story as the horizontal and vertical curtains were used for dramatic effect. The orchestra was simply perfect and the performers perfect as well – no nobody missed any notes that I could tell.
I always imagined the Opera as a single performer standing and singing with no accompaniment. This performance made use of the orchestra and and the different singers would sing together or alone. At different times throughout the performance it was amazing to think that this opera was performed and received by the audience in the same manner that it has been for centuries. There was very little technology used except for the lights that were used to help accentuate the story – the lights were focused on the curtains as during the performance and especially during the changing of the stage configuration. At any given time the vertical and horizontal curtains were used to show just one part of the stage, some, or at times all of the different parts of the stage – upper and lower levels, left and right.
it was an interesting to watch the family they were Mom and Dad seem to be pretty excited or proud to bring their son. He was about 12 and they explained to him a little about the Opera in Italian prior to the start of the performance and impressed upon him that during the performance we must be quiet. The few times they did speak to each other during the performance was very quiet hushed tones. The performers really have to project to fill the whole theater.
Since I was in back and had to sit upright to see over the family in front, I often would relax and close my eyes and just listen to the opera it is during the performance. During this time it was quite enjoyable! I like to do this when I see my favorite musicians at home when we are out. I will often times not face the band and just enjoy the music especially if I am familiar with the band already – I know what they look like.
It was a fabulous experience.