Le Nozze di Figaro

The Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday, December 8.

I believe Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) is commonly considered the most accessible of Mozart’s operas. Because it’s technically not opera but singspiel, its between-aria dialogue is not sung but spoken. Ingmar Bergman adapted it for screen, and the Metropolitan Opera has been putting it on every December for the past few years in a bid to make it a tradition in holiday family entertainment. But for me, the utter insanity (and misogyny) of Flute sets it well below another beloved Mozart opera, Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), which, to my ears and eyes, is far more accessible and charming and beautiful than Flute can ever be. True, Figaro is all about sex and infidelity, so it’s not a great candidate for holiday family entertainment, but for an adult audience, Figaro is dazzling.

Up in the Air

In theaters.

My opinion often shifts on reflection. I think it’s important to acknowledge an initial experience—that immediate, visceral reaction—but as meaningful as that is, it’s not the only thing that matters. No doubt some cynics believe that those who don’t hold onto their first opinion are just allowing others to influence them—and certainly that’s part of it, though it needn’t be a bad thing—but I think the process of evaluating how one feels about something is more complicated than that. It takes time, and in that time, the ground inevitable shifts, sometimes merely settling, othertimes shaking cataclysmically.

Up in the Air hasn’t suffered a cataclysmic reversal, but it definitely has fallen in my estimation the longer I’ve thought about it, sorting through what I liked and what I didn’t, sifting through irrelevant personal tangents and more meaningful critiques. I’ve rewritten this damn introduction multiple times, to the point where it seemed dishonest not to acknowledge that I’ve done so. And in the end, the movie just doesn’t sit right with me.

A Chanticleer Christmas

Chanticleer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Thursday, December 3.

After listening for years to my hyperbolic cooing over Chanticleer’s annual Christmas concert, my parents decided to come to New York this season, with my brother in tow, to experience it for themselves. I was thrilled, of course, and then terrified, as I always am when people act on my implicit recommendations. Feeling responsible for someone else’s disappointment is devastating.

I needn’t have worried, of course. The program was as stunning as always. And what’s more, experiencing it with them made it feel fresh as well as familiar. Mom’s delight with the Neapolitan Baroque crèche in the medieval hall made me see its charm with new eyes, and knowing that Franz Biebl’s lovely “Ave Maria” was new to them made it shimmer with a special warmth.