It’s more than midway through August: that means it’s time for the announcement of a new season of Metropolitan opera broadcasts for the Cowichan Valley’s splendid group of die-hard fans.
I mean what I say. These folks get up on Saturday mornings, early enough to be in their seats at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre in some productions as early as 8:55 a.m. to enjoy big screen broadcasts of grand opera which can last as long as five hours.
Yes. F-i-v-e hours.
And you thought a whole production of the musical Showboat was long.
I admit we’re talking Wagner here, but fans of operas by Richard Wagner (and I am one) are a special breed. I truly believe we were given leather backsides at birth.
But the music makes it worth it.
The season of The Met: Live in HD starts Oct. 12 this year with Turandot, which includes the famous tenor aria ‘Nessun Dorma’ (None Shall Sleep). Any tenors (and even a few baritones) reading this will know it and have probably sung it in the shower.
Next on the list is Manon on Oct. 26, not to be confused with the other, equally popular opera, Manon Lescaut.
On Nov. 9, the annual Remembrance Day weekend special, opera lovers can enjoy that perennial favourite, Madama Butterfly, whose story is so timeless it transcends opera, Italian language, Japanese culture, and everything else between you and the emotions involved.
Akhnaten, which comes to the broadcast on Nov. 23 is a truly modern opera, having been composed in 1983. It’s about an Egyptian pharaoh, Amenhotep IV.
The pre-Christmas treat this season, on Dec. 15, is The Magic Flute, Mozart’s amazing story of magic and mystery, that includes so many well-known melodies I can’t list them all here, so I won’t start.
After the New Year, the season re-commences with Wozzeck on Jan. 11.
Then, the Leap Year blockbuster: on Feb. 29, opera lovers can enjoy the new production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, which should be a show-stopper. You know every song. Don’t let this chance pass you by.
Next up, in one of those curve balls the Met likes to toss in once in a season, we have Agrippina by Handel. Yes, Handel. It was composed between 1709-10, so it’s opera seria, not like the operas we know from the 19th and early 20th century.
On April 11, Tosca takes the stage. Probably by storm if we know this opera, and we do. She cries, at full volume, hand on brow, “I have lived for art!” Need I say more? You know you want it.
The season winds up with Wagner’s Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman) on May 2 and Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda on Saturday, May 16.
Full marks and a gold star to anyone who attends them all.