[The following post is a highly personal story of an individual's quest
for a fulfilling Met broadcast experience in a harsh and uncomprehending
world dominated by soulless technology. If you are not interested in such
tales, please delete NOW.]
Ever since I arrived in New Haven late last August, I have been struggling
to find some way to listen to the Met broadcasts. My dorm room has such
horrible reception that it's impossible to listen to the broadcast station
(though today I just happened to discover another apparently classical
station that comes in *well* -- bet it won't last), so I tried 1.
upgrading to a 28.8 modem and 2. installing RealAudio (which I know about
thanks to this list, which has probably provided me with more useful
information than any other single source these past three years).
However, due to modem problems, problems on my AOL account, and
unclassifiable problems, two months after getting the upgrade I was still
racing to get things worked out this afternoon as 1:30 approached.
Everything seemed properly installed by 1:30 ... but AOL was (surprise)
busy! The minutes ticked on ... still busy! Finally, a little after two,
I was on, raced to the WQXR website (the only one that works that I've
been able to find in my limited time so far), and AT LAST it worked! Tom
Rakewell had just finished his aria at the brothel, the chorus was
singing, and I COULD HEAR IT! My black mood vanished. Lanterloo,
All remained well until the middle of the auction scene, when just as Baba
was about to assure Anne that Tom loved her still, I heard AOL's bland,
distinctly unregretful "Goodbye," and turned to the screen just in time to
read that I had been bumped off because I hadn't answered their "You have
been on for X minutes; would you like to stay on?" query. ARRGH! Here we
go again, thought I, but though I was prepared for the busy signals, I was
NOT prepared, once I was at length online again, to be greeted with error
messages when I tried to use RealAudio. The help page was no help -- all
it suggested was that there might be a firewall. Firewalls don't grow in
ten minutes, do they?
There was only one thing to be done if I wanted to hear the end. I could
bundle up, pack up my portable radio and headphones, dash over to the
Classics library where the reception was passable (I had spent a happy
afternoon there in December curled up with a text, dictionary, and
Turandot with Sweet, Hong et al), and tune in there. There were several
factors urging against this plan. I looked at my watch -- 4:15. I looked
at Opera News -- the broadcast was scheduled to end at 4:26. Ah, but the
broadcasts often run over, I pointed out to myself, reaching for my coat.
It wasn't much after 4:20 when I arrived at the library, out of breath
from running three blocks. There was, of course, the added hazard that,
once I was settled, one of my professors might turn up and notice me with
my headphones, but that wasn't a real consideration (though one of them
*was* there). At worst, they'd just think I was a little eccentric, which
I probably am anyway.
So there I was at last, settled at my carrel, my books open but otherwise
not even pretending to work, drinking in the Bedlam scene (which is NOT
too long, by the way, so there!). Tom's confession, the duet, Anne's
lullaby, Tom's death (only he doesn't die in this production), and that
unbeatable epilogue. What an opera! Worth any exertions, say I.
As to the performances themselves, from the little I heard I'd say Jerry
Hadley sounded very much as he was in the house in November, in good voice
and conveying this wishy-washy but appealing character amazingly well;
Dawn Upshaw sounded more tentative in her big aria than in the house
(perhaps the remains of whatever caused her to cancel her appearance with
the Aulos Ensemble recently?) but sounded better thereafter and very
affecting, especially in the Bedlam scene. Stephanie Blythe has a lovely
voice and I'd like to hear more of her. I didn't hear enough of Samuel
Ramey, but what I did hear was as rock-solid and maliciously fun as ever.
So, a broadcast worthy of some pains, and I look forward to listening to
the complete dumpling my father prepared for me next time I go home.
Tomorrow's mission: go to New York to try to get six or seven tickets to
one of three sold-out performances of Die Zauberflote. The crusade
continues! (and no, that's not the *only* thing I'm traveling in to New
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