I went mostly for the experience of an odd event (seeing an opera in an enormous Texas Football dome) but it was a transformative event. Now I’m an opera fan.
In the past year I managed to see Carmen at the Winspear and a handful of other simulcasts. Now it was time for another evening at the massive home of the Cowboys (now called AT&T stadium). The Dallas Opera was showing The Barber of Seville.
Candy wasn’t able to go, so I was on my own. I took some time off and left work early – wanting to get to the Mid-Cities before the Friday rush hour traffic choked the transport system. As I worked my way through the freeway system (the stadium is over 35 miles from where I work/live) I thought about how I have worked to get away from a car-oriented lifestyle. I think I drive about a third of the miles that I used to. It’s a bit of a shock when I’m forced to fight my way across the city like that – though so many people do it all day, every day.
I arrived extra early, found some food, and sat in the parking lot (it was a warm, beautiful day) and finished a long Kindle book I’ve been fighting through for a while. That was actually sort of nice.
Because I was one of the first people in I had my choice of seats. I ended up right in the middle, right beside the little patio where they were doing the filming of the introductions and stuff. The showing didn’t seem to get as much attention as last year – and the crowd looked like it might have been a little smaller. Still, it was a few thousands – a lot of people for an opera.
First they showed a Bugs Bunny Cartoon – The Rabbit of Seville, of course.
Then the opera started.
It’s a surprisingly good place to see something like that. Of course, the acoustics are horrible. There isn’t much you can do about the cavernous echo in a vast chamber like that. They did the best – the floor was lined with an array of massive speakers pointed outward. Still, it sounded like a second orchestra was hammering away slightly out of tune and far away. But your ears get used to it and it wasn’t half bad.
The High Definition Screen in Cowboy’s Stadium is famous around the world and to see it live… it is even more impressive than that. The whole setup is disconcerting to look at – the mind simply can’t comprehend an indoor space that large. It’s a shock to see a tiny ant-like person walking across an open area – and your mind realizes exactly what you are looking at. When you tip your head slightly up the screen completely fills your field of view with its ten million plus LED-lit pixels.
It’s not the size of the thing that impresses – it’s the quality. It brightness, sharpness, and overall quality of image is better than the best HDTV you will see anywhere else. They did a great job of filming. You can see details never visible in the opera house except in the most expensive of seats. That’s usually a good thing – except when you get to see how hard the performers work and how much they sweat.
The opera itself was a hoot. It was the first comic opera I had seen and that took a little getting used to. It emphasizes the fact that for many places at many times Opera was an entertainment for everybody. The Barber of Seville is sort of an Adam Sandler movie with great music. A lot of pratfalls, mugging, crude jokes, and corny romance. And a happy ending, of course.
I enjoyed how they put in a sort of conflict in the second act. Evil Bartolo shows Rosina her letter that she wrote to “Lindoro” and convinces her Lindoro is only using her on orders from Count Almaviva. She believes him and is sad. But when Lindoro arrives and she lights into him all he has to do is reveal that he really is Almaviva and all is fine. The conflict is solved so easily and quickly that it is almost a satire – saying that in the world of Figaro no sadness is allowed to exist for more than a quick aria or two.
The music, of course, is a masterpiece. The overture justifies its fame, and Figaro’s opening number, Largo al factotum is a hoot.
The time went by fast, and everybody was happy in the end. Next door to the stadium is the Ranger’s Ballpark and the baseball game ended (the home team won 1-0 on a walkoff in the eleventh inning) at about the same time – so the traffic getting out was tough… but it was still all smiles. I had tried to park in such a way that I could get out easier, but that didn’t work – it was truly a futile precaution.