LA Opera’s final production of the season, Puccini’s Tosca, runs through June 8th at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, part of The Music Center of Los Angeles County.
Let’s be honest, while my husband often likes to introduce me as a “violinist” at every opportunity, I haven’t played professionally in over a decade since moving to Denver and “taking a break”. That break basically turned into a retirement when I started popping out babies and realizing that I had zero desire to go back to a life that would involve never seeing my family. It took that “break” to realize the extent to which my profession had sucked the life out me. I’m a much better marketer of music and the arts than I ever was as a violinist anyway and playing without pressure has made me a better player so it’s all good. There have been a ton of fun opportunities for me to play here since we moved to LA last fall and I’ve taken advantage of them all so far. Anyway, Denver is a great city but the arsty fartsy scene is mediocre at best so while I’m an avid patron of the arts, it has been a long time since I’ve experienced the level of performance I saw/heard at the LA Opera last night.
I tell you all of this because I think it’s only fair to say that I could be easily impressed at this point, not to mention that the FTC crackdown on blogger disclosure has everyone getting nekkid so I’m working hard to be “transparent”. That said, I was invited by a friend and local blogger, @mrckdh, to join the Tweetseat Crew last night as his +1 for LA Opera’s final dress rehearsal for Tosca prior to opening night Saturday. This crazy blog post is in no way a review or commentary on the performance, rather, an account of my experience live tweeting an opera performance.
First, getting over the fact that I had a cell phone in hand during a performance that included the likes of Placido Domingo (conductor) and Sandra Radvanovsky (Tosca), was impossible. I felt positively naughty and terribly gosh the entire time. Second, being naughty is awesome!
Did tweeting during the performance take away from my experience? Absolutely, but that is not the point. This wasn’t about moi, or my experience.
Was it distracting for others? Probably, but we were in the very back of the hall and caused less disruption than the loud giggly audience members 5 rows ahead of us. Keep in mind, this was a dress rehearsal and not an official performance.
Do I think Tweetseats have value? Yes. If executed properly. You can see from the #LAOTosca Twitter stream that our role was primarily broadcasting commentary and our reach was fairly limited. There wasn’t a lot of conversation going on and who knows if anyone “on the outside” was following the stream. The social media strategy part of my brain is still mulling this over but I have a lot of ideas percolating for ways I can personally implement things I learned from this experience.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!
Not a review, but what did I think of the production? Pretty darn fantastic. The cast is top notch and the orchestra is powerful and, having played in many a pit during my starving artist days, it was really fun to see what a rock star celebrity Maestro Domingo is, the audience gave major props for him and for the orchestra at the beginning of each act. There were moments where the orchestra was overpowering but again, dress rehearsal and vocalists probably holding back a wee bit. Definitely good excuses although I will say it never hurts to match the efforts of those you are accompanying *ahem*. Oh and whoever had the clarinet solo in Act 3 – I’d like to kiss them. That hall was MADE for that solo and whoever played it nailed it and captured the stress and pee your pants anticipation Puccini intended. The scenery was appropriately dull during each scene and there were lots of crates piled high with naked statues in Scarpia’s apartment, that was a little odd and as one tweep noted very Indian Jones-ish. Most poignant scene was in Act 3 (*SPOILER ALERT*) where we witnessed the actual hanging of Angelotti who then dangles from the rafters for the duration of the scene. I wonder if Mr. Bloom had to do some serious neck pilates to train for this role and do you think he gets overtime pay for that particular aspect of his contract? Powerful but creepy, which means the director, John Caird, is probable patting himself on the back, as he well should, at the effect he had on the audience in that moment. You should go simply to experience the nausea that occurs when the human eyes witness such a thing.