Skip to main content

At the Metropolitan Opera, with a Partial View of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose

Shortly after the Met's house lights dimmed and the crystal chandeliers were raised to the ceiling for the opening scene of William Kentridge's production of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose, I anticipated that I was going to have a good time, despite the fact that I couldn't see the whole stage. Sitting in the back row of Box 1 in the Parterre, the seats above the orchestra and under the Grand Tier, I arrived with full knowledge that the seat I purchased was designated one with a "partial view."

I didn't care. I just wanted to see some of Kentridge's innovative production and listen to Shostakovich's music under the baton of Valery Gergiev. Another reason I was there was because I wanted the experience of sitting in a box seat in the Parterre. I've been to the Met on several previous occasions and had tickets ranging from the orchestra to the Dress Circle to the nosebleed sections of Family Circle, but while sitting in those seats, I always envied the people sitting in intimate groups of six in the side boxes. They looked like they belonged in Renoir's painting, La Loge (1874), or in a Henry James or Edith Wharton novel, feigning interest in the stage but really directing their opera glasses toward some smoldering object of desire across the balcony. Sitting in a box seat at the Met would magically pull back the curtain on New York wealth and power, I thought, and reveal the true interests of the city's elite to rest in the vagaries of private passion.

After arriving at the Met just on time and fumbling with the directions to the discrete Parterre, the usher invited me to follow her to my assigned box seat. Passing through the plush red corridor, I followed her to the entrance door, which she opened, and she then motioned me to to proceed alone into a matching red antechamber, complete with its own fainting couch, mirror and coat hooks. At the end of the narrow room, I opened the door to the opera house itself, quickly locating my seat to the back left. After taking in the spectacle of the sold-out house - there are 3800 seats in the Met, I began to relax when I started exchanging pleasantries with my unfamiliar companions, recognizing them to be not pretentious Knickerbockers but rather fellow members of my own class of Whole Foods-loving bourgeois bohemians. Through casual chit-chat, I learned the front row came for the music, and the big draw for the back row was Kentridge. Everyone was encouraged to scoot over as far as possible to the right so we could see the stage.

Oh, the opera. Understand that because of the sight lines, I never saw anything taking place on the left side of the stage (or from the singers' point of view, stage right), so I'm basically not in position to fully evaluate the visuals of Kentridge's production. The right side looked swell! I could follow the satirical plot, one based on a story by Gogol about a low-level bureaucrat who loses his nose in the barber's chair, hear the intriguing music, and even observe the excellent lead, Paulo Szot as Kovalyov, when he appeared downstage. I was most fond of the character of the Nose itself (played by tenor Gordon Gietz), who took to strolling about St. Petersburg like a flâneur. "The Nose is out strolling!," read the translation on my personal electronic Parterre subtitle device. The humorous newspaper scene in Act II  involved a complex canon of eight voices, and the mishmash of folk tunes and balalaika music veered into completely unexpected passages underscored with an unusual dependence on percussion. If I missed some of the action on stage, I did have an excellent view of the percussion section, facing toward me on the opposite side of the orchestra pit. The costumes by Greta Goiris were particularly intriguing, especially when the full chorus assembled, expressing the colors, themes, and collage of a urban Russian public. Considering my overall enjoyment of the entire experience, I would sit in that seat again.

The next performance of The Nose is Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 8 p.m. The running time is 1 hour and 44 minutes. There is no intermission. For more information about the Metropolitan Opera's season and tickets, please consult their website.

For other members of the frugal aesthetic class who would like to attend the Metropolitan Opera but who would not mind standing in line, please consider the $20 Rush Tickets. Two hundred orchestra seats for regular performances Monday through Thursday (excluding galas, special events, and opening nights of new productions, according to the Met website) are available (rather, subject to availability) to the general public beginning two hours before curtain. 50 are set aside for senior citizens. More information about the program on the Met's site. These are good seats, especially considering the price. The line, however, can get long for popular productions, with people showing up in the morning. Also, standing room tickets may be available as well. Again, consult the website for more information.

iPhoneography images of the Metropolitan Opera House and the Lincoln Center fountain from Thursday, March 18.

Related posts:
A Visit to Lincoln Center, In progress
A Walk from Lincoln Center to Zabar's

Comments

Tinky said…
I have always wanted to sit in box, too, and this sounds like a GREAT experience; thanks for sharing it. We all need to go to the opera more.

By the way, your new look is very chic and readable.
Teri Tynes said…
Thanks, Tinky, on both counts. We must go to the opera together one day.

PS. I like "very chic and readable."
Patty said…
Your writing style is fantastic, I almost feel like I was at the opera too ;) Maybe someday I will be at the opera, "feigning interest in the stage but really directing their opera glasses toward some smoldering object of desire across the balcony." Thanks for posting!
Teri Tynes said…
Thanks, Patty. Your comment made me feel good. I was hoping to give some sense of what it's like to go to the Met - a pretty remarkable experience.
I was a stage manager in high school and have only seen legitimate productions at the Orpheum here in Memphis. Now the Met is definitely on my list of things to do, especially since I haven't made the trip to New York yet which I have been dying to do! Thanks for the inspiration :)
Johnson said…
Just checked out your blog for the first time- This is so well written, and so appreciated by a fellow New Yorker! Sometimes I have to sigh that many New Yorkers don't seem to appreciate all there is to do in the city as much as visitors. Thanks for some great recommendations- there really is something on every block! For those of you who don't know where to start, the Met is definitely a divine beginning!

http://embracingawkward.blogspot.com
Teri Tynes said…
Diane - Thanks for your comment.Come visit NYC soon. I, too, was a stage manager in high school. Actually, in the world of big opera, the stage manager position is a huge deal.

Hello, EmbracingAwkward.Thanks so much for your comments. I also sigh when I hear some fellow New Yorkers comment about how little they see in the city.
I've just come across this site ... it's just amazing .... I cannot believe that I'm gonna visit this CITY !!!!! With infos I found on your site, I won't make mistakes and I'll visit the places worth seeing:D
THX :D

http://myowncatwalk-p.blogspot.com/
ALL THE BEST
Anonymous said…
I am trying to get the best for my money. Do you recommend partial view seats. I am not entirely sure what this entails. Thank You
Teri Tynes said…
I would recommend the Parterre seats at the Met, but please realize some of the stage cannot be viewed.

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

Museums in New York Open on Tuesdays

American Folk Art Museum , 45 W. 53rd St. Asia Society and Museum , 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street) Guggenheim Museum , 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th St.) Pictured left International Center of Photography , 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street The Metropolitan Museum of Art , 1000 Fifth Avenue NEW: Beginning May 1, 2013 MoMA will be open seven days a week. 11 W. 53rd St. The Morgan Library & Museum , 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street Museum of the City of New York , 1220 Fifth Avenue New York University, Grey Art Gallery , 100 Washington Square East Mondays and Tuesdays are the hardest days to remember which museums are open. See the list for NY museums open on Mondays here .

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

The Marx Brothers in New York: Interlude - On Groucho Walking

This special new series about the Marx Brothers in New York continues this week, following the brothers into a career in Broadway and into the movies, but first I would like to take a little time to discuss Groucho's peculiar way of walking. Sometimes described as a "lope" or "stoop," Groucho's silly and often lecherous walk became just as an important part of his persona as his glasses, eyebrows, cigar and greasepaint moustache. He didn't walk this walk all the time, but as you recall from the films, Groucho would often bend his knees and lean forward as he proceeded from point A to point B. To imitate Groucho properly at a costume party, it's important to get this part down. • Groucho explained that it was simply a bit of inspired improvisation. From the book Hello, I Must Be Going by Charlotte Chandler, he says, "I was just kidding around one day, and I started to walk funny. The audience liked it, so I kept it in."(pps. 153-154) Chand

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

A Walk From Lincoln Center to Zabar's

If you happen to be attending a noon or matinee performance in Lincoln Center or otherwise happen to be hanging around there for whatever reason and find you've got some time, I recommend a stroll up Broadway to Zabar's, the famous Upper West Side food emporium. This stretch of Broadway takes in the sights of several new housing sky-rises, several theaters, and some flamboyant former apartment hotels of the early 20th century. Flâneurs will love the Belle Epoque ambiance of these overly-ornamented buildings, and the distance from W. 66th or so to W. 80th is not so taxing, especially if you're dressed in shoes for the opera. View Larger Map Several noteworthy structures along the way - The Dorilton, 171 W 71st St., from 1900-02, at the northeast corner of Broadway, is considered a Beaux Arts masterpiece. The 72nd St subway station dates from 1904 and is a funny little thing. Verdi Square, at the convergence of Broadway, Amsterdam, an W. 73rd, is a nice small park fea

A Weekend Walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Imagine strolling from town to town near the eastern shores of the Hudson River, walking a well-trodden path lined with trees and stately architecture and with easy access to cafes, local shops, and train stations for an easy ride home. Imagine a weekend when the sun is bright and the sun is warm, and many other people - but not too many - are out enjoying the same weather and the same stroll. Such were the pleasures on a recent Sunday, in the latter part of this unseasonal winter, along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail not too far north from New York City. View of the Hudson River from the Keeper's House The Old Croton Aqueduct, the system that once delivered fresh water from the Croton River to New York City, was a huge and complex marvel of engineering. The trail sits on top of the aqueduct system. This post describes a walk along just a section of the trail, the one that begins at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry and ends in Irvington. Recommended purchase - a map det

Coping with Anxiety and Crisis: A Selected List of Fine Chocolate Stores in New York

Fears of recession, concerns about the state of the world, worries about job prospects, and anxieties about the future dominate the news headlines these days, but these kinds of stories are perennial, coloring the way we conduct our lives. Fortunately, we now believe that the 400+ ingredients in dark chocolate may alleviate some of the worst symptoms of this kind of external stress. Had a bad day? A little brisk walk to your local chocolate boutique may fix you right up. It's funny, but studies show that taking a chocolate supplement doesn't work as well for a sense of individual well-being as the act of eating a piece of chocolate. I understand. I think aesthetics matter. Eating beautiful chocolates can make you feel all yummy and special on the inside. My chocolate cravings can even be satisfied by unravelling the classic and minimalist Hershey's bar. Yet, I still prefer a visit to the city's finest purveyors of chocolate. At the following places (links provided), c

25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village

A list of 25 things to Do in Greenwich Village with history of protest, old cafes, and signs of change. Hipstamatic iPhone images of contemporary Greenwich Village by Walking Off the Big Apple (Revised and updated.) Flipping through  Greenwich Village: A Photographic Guide by Edmund T. Delaney and Charles Lockwood with photographs by George Roos, a second, revised edition published in 1976, it’s easy to compare the black and white images with the look of today’s neighborhood and see how much the Village has changed. A long shot photograph of Washington Square taken up high from an apartment north of the park, and with the looming two towers of the World Trade Center off to the distant south in the background, reveals a different landscape than what we would encounter today.    On the north side of the park, an empty lot and two small buildings have since given way to NYU’s Kimmel Center and a new NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Center Life. The Judson Memorial Church

The Thin Man Walk: A New York Holiday Adventure with Nick and Nora Charles

(Revised) Line up the cocktails. As Nick says, "You see the important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. A Manhattan you shake to foxtrot, a Bronx to two-step time. A dry martini you always shake to waltz time." If ever a couple possessed complementary drinking rhythms, it would have to be Nick and Nora Charles , the much-envied glamorous cocktail-swilling quick-thinking duo of Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man . Inspired by the writer's blossoming affair with playwright Lillian Hellman , the novel, published in January of 1934, motivated MGM to rush a cinematic adaptation into production. The movie, released in late May of 1934, proved popular enough to spawn sequels, foremost because of the stellar chemistry and witty performances of William Powell as Nick and Myrna Loy as Nora. Decades later, many people still search for their own Nick or Nora. Beyond the playful banter, the partying Charleses exude a confident security and ease in their