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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Feel fancy and cultured without leaving the Cleve!

Technology and art have been romantically  involved for years.
They live in a world, however, that doesn't understand that love and often tries to tell them just how far they're allowed to go as partners.
I didn't understand it initially.
Adult puppet musical "Avenue Q" won a Tony Award in 2004 despite using TVs on stage and weirding me out as a young theater goer who thought that was a crime against humanity.
These days, the large majority of productions -- aside from those produced in Shakespeare's Globe in London and a few other choice experiments -- rely on computer technology for everything from lighting to sound mixing. I've gotten past my adversity. I even used projections in a play I directed my senior year of high school.
But Saturday convinced me (not that my opinion was being considered by anyone that mattered anyway.)
A friend invited me to go along with him to see the live simulcast of Giacomo Puccini's opera Tosca, an experience that couldn't have happened without the use of the internet.
We sat in the packed movie theater at the Valley View Cinemark (albeit surrounded by people older than us even when our ages were added together) and enjoyed, at the same time, the same astounding voices and orchestral accompaniment as those who payed a little under $200 per ticket in New York.
We paid $25.
We were also granted access to interviews with the divos and divas of the production as well as a peek into a rehearsal with Ohio's own James Levine, renowned Opera conductor who has been out for two years due to a spine injury.
Of course, paying about 10 percent probably only gave us a 10 percent experience compared to the quality of the acoustics and the thrill of the gorgeous Met Opera in Manhattan. But we were there, we were sitting around the art form's biggest fans.
As a kid I was in a few operas as a "super" a.k.a. extra who doesn't sing. But now I'm 24 and Opera filled some sort of void that musical theater or even the best films can't. I constantly felt my face contorting with the pain or the joy or the anger or the love that Puccini, through the performers, was conveying.
And this opera is an opera for non-opera fans.
Puccini, as if I know anything about Opera, is more accessible (in my opinion) than other opera composers. His melodies are easy to digest and his stories are so dramatic you can't help but become enthralled. Plus, everything sounds cool in Italian.
Set in post-Napoleonic 1800 Rome, the story of Tosca, similar to the love story of art and technology, is one of passion and limitations.
Beloved diva Floria Tosca (played by Patricia Racette) and painter Mario Cavaradossi (played by Roberto Alagna) are more in love than anyone in your favorite romcom. Tosca is constantly jealous but Cavaradossi is always there to remind her he loves her the most. Her jealousy, however, is used against her by the lustful villain  - and chief of police - Baron Scarpia. The worst crimes are committed and the good guys aren't necessarily best off.
But no spoilers here.
I will say I was blown away. I left wishing I could belt out those tunes (and believe me I gave it a shot in my car.)
Racette karate chops every notion you ever had about a soprano and fills your soul with the kind of real performance you've always ached for. Her acting rivals her singing, which as operas go is not so common.
But it's the Met. You weren't just sitting in on some hacked local performance or a PBS broadcast. This was the real deal.
That's what makes these events so special, you can't see them just anywhere. You spend 3 1/2 hours of your day soaking in one story. When's the last time you did that outside of reading the Hunger Games?
You leave the theater and you feel like a super-snob because you were just enjoying REAL art and the others were simply seeing a peon new movie! Then you back down and remember that you too were seeing only a fraction of what the hobnobbers in New York saw.
Still, you were there. You were granted a trip to NYC and a ticket to one of the world's most respected opera houses.
If you've ever wanted to try it out, to see what the big deal is and why people have loved opera for over 400 years, you have to take advantage of this opportunity.
There's many more chances to check it out. Click HERE for the schedule.


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