Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale to lead bus trip to ‘Carmen’

By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
January 7, 2010

Millions who will be listening to the “Live from the Metropolitan Opera” broadcast of “Carmen” on Saturday, Jan. 16, can only dream of being there in New York City when the great gold curtain rises. However, this dream can easily become a reality because there’s still time to join the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale’s annual opera trip.

Even opera lovers within traveling distance will have trouble finding tickets for this sold-out performance and then making their way through the winter weather on their own. The MSOC opera trip eliminates both of those challenges.

There’s no problem with traffic, parking, or getting around mid-town Manhattan.

“Just relax and enjoy the ride,” says trip organizer Leslie Lisle, a cellist with MSOC. “The driver drops the group off right at Lincoln Center.”

Liz Barrett Costa Mayerson of East Hartford, left, and Carol Iczkowski of South Windsor on the grand staircase of the Metropolitan Opera House. The pair traveled to New York City with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale’s 2009 opera trip, for a performance of “Rigoletto.”

For those new to opera, there’s no finer introduction than a trip to The Met. The Metropolitan Opera house is more stunning than ever after recent renovations to Lincoln Center, and now features interesting exhibits on its history with magnificent costumes on display.

Bizet’s “Carmen” has melodies that even the most casual classical music listener is sure to recognize, plus plenty of drama and action. Since the recent introduction of high-definition simulcasts to movie theaters world-wide, the Met’s productions are reaching new levels of stagecraft and choreography.

This season’s new production of “Carmen” is the work of Olivier Award-winning director Richard Eyre. On the Metropolitan Opera Web site, he says “‘Carmen’ is about sex, violence, and racism— and its corollary: freedom.'”

The afternoon should be a memorable experience for seasoned opera fans, as well. Mezzo-soprano Elna Garana is Carmen, the gypsy girl who captures the heart of Don Jose, sung by acclaimed tenor Roberto Alagna. Baritone Mariusz Kwiecien completes the love triangle as Escamillo.

The MSOC opera trip is always well-attended by the MSOC’s own musicians, whose knowledge and enthusiasm adds to the experience. Lisle, who has been on several previous opera trips, describes the atmosphere on the bus as “convivial.” “People bring food to share and they have a good time.”

With an 8 a.m. departure, the bus should arrive in time for a quick lunch or some sightseeing before the 1 p.m. curtain time. The area around Columbus Circle has restaurants and shops for all budgets and tastes. Then, listeners can let the magic of Bizet’s music chase away the winter doldrums with its passionate love story set in sunny Spain.

The MSOC opera bus leaves the Spencer Street commuter lot in Manchester at 8 a.m. and returns at approximately 8:15 p.m. The price of $120 per-person includes transportation, opera ticket, driver’s tip, and a contribution to MSOC. To join the trip, or for more information, e-mail MusicSix [at] or phone 860-228-2921. The MSOC Web site is: