Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lincoln Center

The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln center is surely one of the showpieces of New York. Indeed the entire campus of buildings at Lincoln Center is an elegant, beautifully conceived architectural complex. This kind of style and elegance is something rarely seen in early 1960s architecture–at least in my opinion. (Just look at Kennedy Airport or Madison Square Garden if you don't believe me.) In fact, there is something about going to a performance at Lincoln Center that always feels like an event to me. People still dress up when they go to Lincoln Center. The excitement in the air is palpable as people file past the fountain in the center of the courtyard to whichever building houses the performance they are there to see, be it Avery Fisher Hall with its impressive colonnade, the New York State Theater with its rows of lights mounted like diamonds or the Met with its glittering chandeliers framed by magnificent Chagall paintings.

I was a senior in high school the very first time I went to see something at Lincoln Center. It was to a performance of Carmen by the Metropolitan Opera. I went with my voice teacher who herself had performed at Lincoln Center as a leading soprano with New York City Opera. I had started studying with her as a freshman and the performance was sort of a graduation present from her to me. I was so impressed by it all, the chandeliers disappearing into the ceiling just before curtain time, the elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen milling around the lobby and on the staircases and of course the performance itself--Bizet’s music coming to life before my eyes by some of the best singers and musicians in the world.

Lincoln Center was incorporated and founded by John D. Rockefeller III in 1956 and was built with private, city, state and federal funding. It is the home the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, the Julliard School and several other performing groups and educational institutions.

So why my fascination with Lincoln Center today? Well, the Metropolitan Opera is holding an open house this Friday the 22nd. It’s part of a plan by the Met’s new General Director, Peter Gelb, to appeal to a broader audience and renew interest in the opera. Part of the open house features free tickets to the final dress rehearsal of the new production of Madame Butterfly. Today was the day they were handing out the tickets at the box office on a first come first served basis. Unfortunately they were long gone before I got down there to take these pictures.

The photos below are: the view of Lincoln Center from 65th and Broadway with the Metropolitan Opera House in the center, Avery Fisher Hall, another view of the Met with the fountain in the foreground, and the New York State Theater advertising the New York City Opera.

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