Last week I realized that even though I’ve been living in Munich, which hosts one of the world’s premiere opera houses, for almost two months, I hadn’t yet been to an opera. I love opera, so I was feeling like I really needed to get my act together. Then less than an hour later, my friend Matt posted on facebook that he needed to sell a ticket to the Bayerische Staatsoper. Of course I responded to his post right away - that’s how I ended up at the Bayerische Staatsoper’s production of die Zauberflöte last night.
Since I spent the day walking around town and had a standing “seat” for the show, I decided to wear sneakers. This was definitely a practical decision and I decision that I was glad to have made by the end of the night, but I did feel a little out of place before the show amidst the old world glamor of the house. There were some people who gave my Converse the stink eye, but luckily, most people didn’t seem to mind. This performance had a special deal for families with young children, so there were fewer old Bavarian ladies there to judge me than there would’ve been on a normal night at the opera.
My standing place was situated all the way to the left of the second balcony, meaning that in addition to having to stand for three+ hours, I could see less than half of the stage. Frankly, I don’t think houses should really even have seats with such terrible views, but that’s what I get for only spending 12 Euro.
I snapped a quick photo during the bows so you could get a sense of my view
In spite of my awful “seat,” I really enjoyed the show. As much as I love seeing operas I don’t know at all, there is nothing like seeing an opera you love onstage for the first time and feeling it come alive. The singing in this production was absolutely top-notch, not one singer stood out as being worse than the others and the diction was so good that I had hardly any trouble understanding the German. I particularly enjoyed the golden-voiced Genia Kühmeier, who played Pamina, and Daniel Schmutzhard, who had the entire audience laughing as Papageno. i was also really impressed by the two trios in the opera, the Three Ladies and the Three Boys, who had such amazing blend that I had no idea who sang which part.
The one needle-scratching moment came courtesy of Monastos and his slaves, who were portrayed by white singers in black face. After some googling during the intermission, I found out that this is traditional, but that doesn’t really excuse the casual racism. I know for a fact that the Met production doesn’t have Monastos in blackface and I can’t imagine an American production that would. Call me oversensitive, but every time Monastos and his slaves came on stage I felt my stomach churn a bit. While it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the show too much (Monastos is a minor character and I couldn’t see him most of the time he was onstage) it definitely made me uncomfortable.
So overall, my first time at the Bayerische Staatsoper wasn’t perfect, but I did have a lot of fun. Next time I’ll be sure to spring for a better seat and wear some nicer shoes.