The trip to the New York Metropolitan Opera became a culturally enriching experience for a wide variety of Widener students. The invitation was originally extended to students in any Italian class or those involved in the Humanities, to attend the opera “Puritani” by Vincenzo Bellini. The opera was thought to be a great opportunity for undergrads to experience the rich cultural background of the show. However due to scheduling conflicts, very few undergraduate students volunteered to attend. Not wanting the tickets to go to waste, Benedetti opened the trip up to Widener’s Graduate and International students. Benedetti afterwards said he was “disappointed that more undergraduate students didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.”
The show was a final stage dress rehearsal put on by the Metropolitan Opera on February 7th and the tickets were donated by an organization called the Sons of Italy. A few members of the Sons of Italy attended the show themselves and seemed to greatly enjoy it. They felt the students who came seemed to enjoy it as well. Many students confirmed this observation with their own comments. Quentin Sowers, an undergraduate finance major, described it as “Phenomenal!” As a student with considerable experience in music, he commented that “The acoustics were perfect,” and that after the first act he couldn’t get the final chorus out of his head; it was so catchy. International Student Enad Alsolami experienced this as his first opera and commented that he found the show “emotional,” and said he “would definitely go again.” Professor Benedetti pointed out that he could appreciate the opera’s Bel Canto style, calling it “music that continues and continues, carries you away with its beauty.”
Not only the music, but the artistry of the opera was very impressive. It “looked like a painting,” said Justine Vunda, another international student. The metropolitan opera was able to achieve this effect through a sort of screen, which when lowered made the entire stage and actors appear like a work of art. The opera began with the screen lowered and the watched in awe and wonder until, as Thea Benjamin said, “the screen went up and I was like, ohhh.” The precision with which everything was thought out and performed made it a truly beautiful performance. Adele Steck noted that “the way the actors stood on the stage was important.” The actors seemed to move and sit and stand in a way that was perfectly choreographed, at times appearing so still for so long that you could hardly believe they were real.
Steck also commented that the “children were wonderful,” referring to many of the young school kids that were also invited to attend the show. They were “restless in the beginning but everything quiets down immediately once it starts,” said Sarah Rehberg. Everyone seemed to agree that this was a great experience for a wide variety of students of different cultures and different ages. Benedetti described it as a chance “to experience things [undergraduates] normally wouldn’t on campus.”