Students venture to N.Y.C. to see Italian opera

Wearing their best blouses and collared shirts, they entered the Metropolitan Opera House as the sky dimmed and the exterior lights brightened. Red velvet, a gold ceiling and marvelous chandeliers welcomed the group from Eastern’s community.

The sky was clear, and the air was mild when the group arrived in New York City. The weather was the best they have ever seen for this annual outing, said Colleen Bradstreet, administrative assistant in Eastern’s music department, describing it as gorgeous.

Every spring for the past eight years, Bradstreet has organized a group trip to see a New York City opera. On Saturday, March 15, a charter bus transported Eastern students, faculty and members of the community to the Italian opera La Traviata. According to Bradstreet, the student tickets for transportation and the opera were available at a reduced price of $44 due to the generosity of student development.

Once they arrived in the city, the attendees split up for several hours to sightsee and eat dinner in the city. First-year students Crystal Yetter and Meaghan Bennett stumbled across an organic Mediterranean hummus bar for their dinner. It was called Nanoosh, and “[The food] was amazing,” Yetter said. “It was a small, little place. Hip New Yorkers were there.”

The opera began at 7:30 p.m. As they filed into the opera house, Bennett took in the beauty of the building and took notice of the people surrounding her. A variety of people joined them as they entered the Met, some speaking French or other foreign languages. “It just made us feel very cultured,” Bennett said.

The tickets the group held were for seats in the second-level balcony. “I like higher seats,” Bradstreet said. “We can see everything.”

“The only thing we couldn’t see was [the actors’] faces,” first-year Allison Day said. “But they have a lot of body movements, so it was easy to understand their emotions.”

La Traviata is a tragic story of two lovers, Violetta and Alfredo, and was composed by Giuseppe Verdi.

La Traviata was performed in Italian, but English speakers could easily understand the words by reading the electronic subtitles displayed on the seat in front of each audience member. “It becomes second nature after a little bit,” Day said about keeping up with the meaning of the words.

Before the opera began, an announcement was made that the female lead had the flu and would not be able to perform. “It was her debut at the Metropolitan,” first-year Jen Kane said of the understudy who performed in her place. “She was wonderful.”

The elaborate sets left an impression on Kane and others in the audience. “The sets were unbelievable,” she said. “The first set was gorgeous, and the second set was gorgeous.”

“It takes your breath away when they open the curtain,” Bradstreet said.

“I’ve never been to an opera; I was blown away,” Day said of the performance. “I was most amazed by how long they sang without losing their voices.”

“It’s just a wonderful experience,” Bradstreet said. “You have to experience the Met at least once.”

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