A good write-up at The Post for the free broadcast of Porgy and Bess the Washington Opera put together on the National Mall this past Sunday. Basically, they set up a large screen on the mall near the Hirshhorn Sculpture garden and did a live broadcast of their performance that afternoon at the Kennedy Center.
I myself was not able to attend. Sadly, I was working. My Mom, however, did go and I had the chance to "interview" her about her experience over dinner at the nearby Gordon Biersch restaurant. So with a blackened Mahi Mahi in front of me and some kind of stir fry in front of her, I asked my mom about the whole event.
Heb: So, how was it?
Heb's Mom: Right before it started they said they had an estimated turnout of 7000 people. But more kept coming as the screening continued.
Heb: Ok. So how was the music.
Heb's Mom: Oh, it was great. I've heard Porgy and Bess on albums before but I've never sat through an actual performance. Not even on television. Even though it was in English, they still used Supertitles. It really helped me keep up with the story. The sound system they used was great and whoever ran the cameras did a fabulous job shooting from different perspectives.
Heb: What kind of people came to the screening?
Heb's Mom: A mixture. Most were people were middle-aged or older. But a lot of families with small children. A number of people brought dogs. The dogs didn't seem to like it, though.
Heb's Mom: Well, they would bark pretty loudly everytime one of the sopranos sang. One thing they really did well was have plenty of porta-potties set up. Some of the mroe uppity people looked at them like they were some kind of abomination, but everyone used them during intermission.
Heb: So will you go to more things by the Washington Opera?
Heb's Mom: I'll think about it. I already subscribe to two other things and the Washington Opera is a lot more expensive. Maybe if I drop one next year I'll start going.
So there you have it.
I'm sure Washington Opera hopes the free concert, which their own board apparently paid for, will increase interest in their performances. The only opera I've been to was a free dress rehearsal held a few years ago at Constitution Hall. But I'm afraid I have to agree with my mom on this one. Their bottom end seats run $45, and prices run all the way up to $290. A low level worker bee like me has to think twice when he sees a movie for $12, so even their low end seats are a stretch for a joe blow like me. Special events like these are great, because they expose people to opera who might not otherwise be able to drop $290 or even $45. So keep doing the freebies...people love them.