Thais

Thais

It is hard to claim that Thais is a great opera. It is, rather, an exotic, erotic antique concerning an alluring courtesan in decadent 4th century Alexandria.  The opera, based upon a work by Anatole France, tells the story of a Cenobite monk, Athanaël, who is obsessed with the beautiful courtesan, Thaïs. He sublimates his longing by converting her to Christianity and delivering her to a monastery. He then realizes that he has lost her forever when she dies at the end of the opera.

Should You See it?

This is a tough question, in my opinion. Massenet wrote at least two operas that can be considered masterpieces and that remain in the standard repertory. These are Manon, a truly great opera, and Werther, a very fine opera.

Thais does not reach the heights of either of those two works. However, it does have some beautiful music, most famously the Meditation.

Seeing Thais provides you with an opportunity  to experience a relatively little-known and rarely performed opera with some beautiful music.

 

 

The Exterminating Angel

The Exterminating Angel

Following the rapturous response to his last opera, The Tempest, the Met presents the American premiere of Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel, inspired by the classic Luis Buñuel film of the same name. Hailed by the New York Times at its 2016 Salzburg Festival premiere as “inventive and audacious … a major event,” The Exterminating Angel is a surreal fantasy about a dinner party from which the guests can’t escape. Tom Cairns, who wrote the libretto, directs the new production, and Adès conducts his own adventurous new opera.

Is this Opera for You?

In my opinion, that’s a tough question. If you like cutting edge, avant garde productions, then this may be just what you are looking for.

However, if you are more a fan of traditional opera and traditional, melodic music, this may not be your best bet. You are unlikely to go home humming any of the music from this opera.

You might consider going on Youtube and listening to some excerpts before you decide.

The Story

The plot of the opera, like the plot of the film upon which it is based, involves a bunch of upper class people attending a dinner party which they are not able to leave.

What is Opera?

What is opera?

“Opera, the fine art of emotions?”

Opera is considered by many to be a “total” art form because it blends music, singing, drama, poetry, staging and occasionally dance, into an extraordinary performance.

It is this complex combination that makes an opera performance one the few entertainments where all human emotions and passions are at work. Read More

Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann)

Scenes from the Paris premiere

Tales of Hoffmann

Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann (or in its original French title Les Contes d’Hoffmann) is a wonderful opera which is based on three tales by the 19th-Century German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann.

Is This a Good Opera to Attend?

This should be a very good performance, with a strong  Italian tenor, Vittorio Grigolo taking on the demanding role of Hoffmann and three strong female singers, each portraying one of the tenor’s failed loves.

The Storyline

Following an introductory scene in which the drunken poet Hoffmann outlines each of the three love affairs which end in disaster for him, the following three acts of the opera portray each of these love affairs in detail.

Unfortunately, Hoffmann has terrible taste (and luck) with women.

For example, his first love, Olympia, turns out to be a mechanical doll. This, obviously, does not form the basis for a good relationship.

About the Music

The opera’s most famous piece is the duet for two female voices known as the Barcarolle.

This takes place in the marvelous scene set in Venice in Act II of the opera, when Hoffmann is pursuing the courtesan Gulietta (another affair which does not end happily).

The Barcarolle is far from being the only great music in this opera and I feel that anyone seeing it for the first time will not be disappointed.

The music is wonderful and the production is very fine. This was Offenbach’s last work and he died before it’s premiere.

Like Sir Arthur Sullivan in England, Offenbach was known for his operettas but wanted to be taken seriously as an opera composer.

In this respect, he had more success than Sir Arthur, whose attempts at opera ended in failure.

Q. What hotel will I be staying at?

A. We have made special arrangements for you to stay at the Empire Hotel. 

Standing at the gateway to the Upper West Side, the Empire Hotel reflects the relaxing earth tones and modernism of it’s famous neighbors, Central Park, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera House ™.

This boutique hotel offers sophisticated comfort and bold decor as well as upscale amenities, quality guest services and superior rooms.

The Empire Hotel’s central location also places you within convenient walking distances to some of New York’s top attractions.

As we mentioned it is directly across the street from the renowned Lincoln Center which includes the Metropolitan Opera House ™, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Alice Tully Hall. Stroll a few more blocks and you will reach the world famous landscapes of Central Park and Columbus Circle, a top shopping destination.

Check out this photo gallery on the Empire Hotel below:

For more information on what the guest rooms at the Empire are like, please click here.