Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tosca in Times Square

Last night, Times Square lay blanketed beneath an eerie hush, its crowd corralled into chairs on a red carpet, while the sounds of Puccini's "Tosca" echoed off the glassy towers. On the NASDAQ screen, on the Jumbotron, and MTV's big TV, the Metropolitan Opera broadcast their opening-night gala performance.

With no cars on Broadway, Times Square felt like a weird auditorium, oddly hollow, day-lit at night by countless TV screens flashing epileptically. Among the grinning M&Ms, the stretched-out supermodels in designer jeans, and guzzlers of Coca-Cola, there was soprano Karita Mattila and her heaving bosom, singing the aria "Vissi d'arte."

Over the Military Recruitment Station, where their own giant TV showed the bomb blasts of war as glorious temptations, Tosca begged for her lover's life to be spared, singing, "I lived for art, I lived for love, I never did harm to a living soul!"

On the sidewalks and in the streets, leaning against mailboxes and lampposts, sitting in those controversial chairs, people stayed still, gazing upwards in silence, hypnotized by the singer's voice. And her red dress.

Meanwhile, as the CNN ticker reminded us, more and more troops were being called to war.


Someone Said said...

That last image is incredibly powerful.

ShatteredMonocle said...

This is amazing. Photos 4 & 6 are incredible.

marjorie said...

i don't get your tone here: lulled stupid cow-people hypnotized by a red dress and boobs while troops die.

why the snark? i think it's GREAT that this endeavor brings art to the masses. opera wasn't always this hauty thing for the rich, and the Met simulcasts do something to popularize a dying art form. i love that people from all walks of life make dates to see great performances on the Jumbotron and in movie theaters around the country. (my inlaws went in wisconsin and loved it.) how do you know all those people watching only cared about the heaving gazongas? once i walked thru times square during a simulcast and watched a man sitting quietly in his chair, crying at the beautiful music. maybe a lot of people are genuinely moved.

need we sneer at a lovely act of philanthropy? not everything new is sucky.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Surreal - wish I'd been there.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i think you are reading snark where there isn't any.

this often happens when what i write isn't pointed with a particular opinion. it's curious to me that people often think, on those occasions, that i must be being snarky.

the scene was a mix. the opera was lovely, the quiet, the odd stillness. there was also this weird anesthetized feeling.

Anonymous said...

This juxtaposition is too much. Too bad Kathleen Battle wasn't in the cast. J, for those acting Glenn Beckish and accusing you of being snarkish, tell them to cry elsewhere.

Melanie said...

I love the Opera! Sorry I missed this event.

Anonymous said...

I had decided to walk home instead of taking the train. As I am walking I see what seemed like an endless stream of red chairs and a flowing red carpet. Found out it was the Met debut's for Tosca being aired in the middle of Broadway amidst the colorful spectrum of lights,universality of people and traffic. I said, heck no..I'm going to keep walking..but then the beautiful music of Tosca started spilling out of an amazing sound system...As it flowed it enveloped me and I turned around and looked again at the event happening and said, heck yes!.I'll stay. It was
a true New York City gem. A full house to say the least and standing room as well. I walked around a bit
to photograp the event. Then sat
and watched the screen as Puccini's
music/opera resonated all over
Broadway. Eventually....my tears flowed. They always do with Tosca.
Those who missed it be there next
year...if they do this again
And I hope they do. It was a wonderful experience. We need all the beauty of art, music and the connectedness of all in this world. Sadly there are painful situations going on around the
But moments like this transport us
to a beautiful and special place which composers and artists understand quite well.

By the way I also have seen the opera at the Met. Two different
venues, but each special in it's
own way. And to think Puccini
music and Tosca was first performed
on Jan. 14,1900. Still so beautiful.
and timely. See you next year at opera on Broadway.
Maryann said

marjorie said...

i apologize that i missed that this was simply supposed to be moody and atmospheric, not edgy. to me, the juxtaposition of the description of immobile people staring at boobs and the crawl talking about troops dying came off pretty pointed. but clearly it wasn't your intention. i do love the blog.

and somebody thinks i'm glenn beckish? golly.

Jeremiah Moss said...

marjorie, you weren't entirely wrong. i did intend some pointedness, to point out: here we are, all lulled by the beauty, but how weird that it's being mediated by the NASDAQ jumbotron and meanwhile, there's this CNN crawl about war...and, you know, all of the above.