Opera in Siberia

I admit that I know little about Siberia. Once a long time ago I shivered through reading “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”; I remember dismal references in “Doctor Zhivago”, and recall the scene in “Fiddler on the Roof” when the second daughter tearfully said good-bye to her father and followed her revolutionary fiance into the Siberian wasteland. In my mind it has always been the ultimate frozen exile. What do people do there? Slave in salt mines, I’ve supposed.
Last Saturday I went to see the opera “Ernani”, performed at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, but transmitted live in HD to the Reading IMAX theatre. Certainly this is a testament to the times we live in, when something so magical can happen. It is always a thrilling experience.
At the first intermission (yes, opera-goers get their money’s worth–four acts and two intermissions, and this one is no record setter) the baritone was interviewed. He is a handsome hunk of a man named Dmitri Hvorostovsky (I can type that but am still having trouble pronouncing it) with a gorgeous, rich voice and much charm. He commands the stage and the hearts of the audience, even if he is the bad guy. With him during the interview were two of his own little children who happily commandeered the mic and jabbered away in a language I couldn’t understand. Dmitri explained they were talking to their far-away grandparents who were watching his performance for the first time, via the live in HD transmissions.
So I went home and googled Dmitri. He grew up in Siberia. I am making some assumptions here, but knowing that mobility is still limited in the former Soviet Union, it would seem that his parents are probably still there and were watching this opera from New York in a Siberian theatre with capabilities similar to our IMAX. It didn’t jive with my concept of Siberia. They have come a long way since the rattling train chugging across the continent was the only connection to the outside world.
For me it was a lesson in the wonders of technology and how it has made us a global community.
Can you imagine the delight Dmitri’s parents must have felt in seeing their son perform so magnificently before thousands in New York and millions all across the globe? And then hearing their little grandchildren sending a message half way around the world…just for them.

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