Met Opera superfans make the most of a canceled season

Meet the superfans of the Metropolitan Opera: Upper West Siders Carolyn Starry and Marion Chalat both say their love of the music and drama started early.

"It started when I was very young," Chalat said. "I come from a family that loved opera."

Starry remembers dressing up as a kid in her Pennsylvania house.

"I would take an old chenille bedspread and put it over me, and I would try to mimic the opera singers," she said.

The passion for the opera would follow them through their lives and form the basis of a deep friendship after they first met 10 years ago through the New-York Historical Society.

Both longtime subscription holders at the Met, Chalat and Starry would discuss each performance they saw in detail.

When the Met shut down mid-season along with the rest of the city in March because of the pandemic, the opera house announced it would live stream a different encore performance each night for free. Chalat and Starry were in.

"I said to Marion, 'Let's watch the virtual,' we were thinking three or four weeks," Starry said. "It just so happens we're on week 32 and tonight will be the 209th opera that we will view."

The ladies have yet to miss a single stream, though admittedly they do sometimes tune in on delay because the Met keeps each performance online for 24 hours. And they don't just watch the performances; they take notes, copiously, creating what the two former teachers call "book reports."

"Carolyn writes the report and I write the rebuttal," Chalat said. "Sometimes we love the same things, sometimes we don't."

Chalat, who was married to an opera singer, said that along the way they've realized the perks of being able to watch from home.

"One of the joys is seeing the conductors that I can't do from my seat in the opera house, seeing the chorus up close and loving to be here," she said.

But more than anything, the familiar scenes and songs from the Met have offered a joyful escape, during an ever-challenging time.

"It gives a sense of purpose," Starry said. "We know every night we have to be there at 7:30." 

Chalat agreed.

"It's something to bring beauty in my life at this particular terrible time," she said.

The Met doesn't plan to resume live performances until September 2021. But when the opera house reopens, the ladies hope to be there for opening night.

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