Yesterday I attended the 11 a.m. performance of The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera, conducted by Jane Glover.
In the program, she included the note:
Maestro Glover’s performances with the Metropolitan Opera this seasons are dedicated to the memory of Dr. Agnes Varis, who championed women conductors.
Thank YOU, Maestro Glover, for acknowledging the fact that women conductors need champions! And that makes you a champion, too, so THANK YOU again!!!
Maestro Glover is only the third woman conductor the Met has ever had, and the only one this season. Let it not go unsaid that this is a production intended to be accessible to children, an audience not so highly valued (!) and therefore less prestigious, and therefore more often delegated to women. Of course, without children who love opera, there would be fewer adults who love opera. So, her Magic Flute probably does more good for the future of opera than the spring’s resurrection of La Boheme.
(This Magic Flute was a Disney cartoon on stage: 142 rocketing minutes of puppets, no da capos. Opera lite–the kind of show college classes and semi-pro opera companies do for outreach programs; but this was the highest level singing and playing, and at the iconic Met Opera. What a good idea!)
I enjoy a nice, long soak in opera, so my interest in this production was primarily theoretical, political (also, Nathan Gunn is particularly dreamy); but I enjoyed it like I enjoy movies and musical theater. More importantly, I was very, very impressed with Jane Glover. The last opera I saw at the Met had a conductor who I thought was only competent–the chorus wasn’t together rhythmically, and, while his gesture was expressive and it was obvious that he knew the score inside out, the orchestra seemed to be playing despite him.
I watched him conduct and thought, “I could do better than that. Hell, I HAVE done better than that.”
So I was a little worried that my critical eye would be disappointed in Jane Glover, but NO! I thought she was fabulous.
I watched her conduct and thought, “I want to be that good. And maybe I could be…” and I suddenly knew as I never had before, like an epiphany, that the possibility was real.
I never realized before how hard I’ve been slogging in this path with many, many men as role models and very, very, very few women. And Jane Glover at the Met is the first time I’ve seen a woman conduct live in such a prestigious position. I saw Maria Guinand conduct an honor choir at a national ACDA conference, which was similarly impactful, but not in the same league in terms of national prestige. In contrast, I find the idea of Marin Alsop inspiring, and I enjoy watching videos of her; but I’ve never seen her in person. It was different in person. There she is on the podium–there she is. The person on the podium is a woman.–and it felt a little shocking and a lot wonderful.
For me, that was the magic in The Magic Flute.