It’s been a rough year for the opera world — at least, the global opera world, which saw one of its most acclaimed productions upended by an outbreak of bird flu, leading producers around the world to reconsider or cancel their own plans to mount such productions.
But there are still times when opera goes big. Such was the case at New York’s Metropolitan Opera with its lavish take on Leonard Bernstein’s iconic West Side Story, the score for which has become a household name since it was first performed in 1957. There was a chorus of more than 1,000 on-stage (that’s a fucking lot of chorus boys) and many of the major stars of today’s world of opera were in the pit (Francis O’Connor was conducting the orchestra). The fact that this was also a film, told from the perspective of the stars of the stage play, meant the Met’s production was full of first-timers, many of whom were ready to embrace the moment. The result is arguably the best recreation of the material since the West Side Story revival on Broadway in 2011, and comes at a moment when Hollywood seems to have learned how to close the loop on a great film like this.