05 November 2007

View from center parterre

I'm just catching up with the pile of fall New Yorker issues growing by the nightstand. One item that caught my attention this weekend: from three weeks ago, a feature on Peter Gelb morphed, in my mind, into a more curious mini-feature on Mercedes Bass, New York socialite and key Met patron. Since the entire article is not (yet?) available online, I have included quotes below, which should establish just how utterly ___* this powerful woman is.

"Opera is somewhat of an acquired taste, and it is very time consuming--you need to have three or four hours to devote to it. And then, to a certain degree you have to have the finances. I am very aware that for a couple to go to the opera, it means basically a hairdresser, a babysitter, a taxi or car, dinner on the Grand Tier. All of that mount up to being sort of an expensive evening."
Regarding the multiplex simulcasts, she notes:
"When the camera is too much in the mouth of the singers, it bothers me. I think it is unflattering for the artist. I don't think we need to look down their throats. Even if you are in the front row of the Met, you don't see that."
On productions:
"One of my first major conversations I had with Peter was to say, please, don't get rid of the old Zeffirelli productions. My example was that one cannot appreciate contemporary or modern art if you don't begin with the 'Mona Lisa' or the Old Masters. Zeffirelli productions are mind-boggling, and I will go to all of them, and when I hear the audience gasp in the second act of Tosca, or in Boheme, that, to me, is the experience of going to the opera."
(Apparently she asked Gelb if it were possible to mount a Zeffirelli marathon, to which Gelb responded "it is possible.") On repertory:
"I don't think I'm going to see (Janáček's From the House of the Dead), frankly. Peter Grimes is another one. There are certain operas I can live without. But that's all right. There are other audiences that will love them."

*fill in at your own risk