At the Opera
This past weekend I saw The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It was sung in German, so I switched on the translation box attached to the seat in front of me to read the lyrics in English (or in Spanish). The words appear in infrared letters that can only be seen by the patron right in front of the box so as not to distract other more erudite patrons who didn’t need it (talk about useful technology!). We were fortunate enough to go with a friend who has seen, by his own estimation, 1300 operas over 40 years in New York.
The music, of course, was wonderful; the sets and costumes spectacular. This is a more whimsical interpretation of the opera (“child friendly” according to our friend), and it even contained wisps of humor, most of which I wouldn’t have recognized on my own. Peter, who has forgotten more about opera than I’ll ever know, was a wonderful tutor. His enthusiasm and his eagerness for us not only to understand, but to enjoy the experience, made it memorable.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, scores of high school kids packed the elevators, huddled together in the halls, knocked on one another’s doors, and generally behaved like high school kids. They were members of a chorus from Buffalo, thrilled beyond measure to be in the city. At breakfast one of their teachers told me she had lived in New York for several years, and she wanted the kids not only to understand what they saw, but to have fun too.
In the elevator I asked one of the girls how she was enjoying the city. “I love it!” she said. Then she added, “Our advisor lived in New York, so she really knows what to do and where to go.”
Teaching and learning. The enthusiasm and knowledge of the teacher, at any stage of life, makes all the difference.