This weekend we're excited to check out La Celestina, a multimedia "video opera" commissioned specifically for the Met's 16th century Vélez Blanco patio, whose walls and statues become the performance's theatre and characters. After the performance, we'll stick with the Spanish theme and eat some tapas at Boqueria on Second Avenue. Update: "La Celestina" is no longer running. To stay updated on what's going on right now, sign up for our #YourArtWeekend newsletter here.
THE ART /
The Met is so big, so crowded with amazing art, that sometimes we end up returning to our favorite galleries each visit -- out of habit, maybe, or to avoid being too overwhelmed and ending up more tired than inspired. The problem is we often end up ignoring the unexpected gems of the museum's off-the-beaten-path spaces and exhibitions. "La Celestina," a genre-bending installation that combines elements of opera, video art and sound effects to radically transform its setting, is a perfect opportunity to see such a lively, innovative exhibition.
"La Celestina" is adapted from the 15th century Spanish novel of the same name by Fernando de Rojas. The story, one of sexual rivalry and conflicting accounts (sort of a Renaissance Rashomon), is often pointed to as a transition point between the medieval era and the Renaissance in Spain -- the same era when its "stage," the Vélez Blanco patio, was built. The plot details of this adaptation -- a gentleman recruits a witch to help him win over the woman of his dreams; there are arguments, chases, a stabbing, and a pair of deadly falls from the balcony at the climax -- are secondary to the feeling of being immersed in the space, eyes glued to the shadowy figures projected on the wall and ears perked up to take in the dialogue and music coming from all around you.
The exhibition was commissioned by Met Museum Presents, which organizes the museum's live arts program, and was written and directed by Patrick Eakin Young of the opera production company Erratica, with music composed by Matt Rogers. On my way to see the exhibition this morning, I spoke with Meryl Cates, who works for the museum with Met Museum Presents, and she highlighted the ways the exhibition is designed to catch museum-goers off guard, with the doors wide open to lure wanderers into the space and surprise them with such a unique spectacle. People can walk around in the gallery, catching the performance from multiple angles and immerse themselves in what curator Limor Tomer rightly calls "a brilliant multi-sensory experience."
"La Celestina" will be shown on a loop every thirty minutes during normal museum hours from today until Sunday, March 29th. The patio is just steps from the Great Hall, and watching the performance is free with your normal tickets, so make sure you stop in and see the show to kick off an afternoon at the Met. Some other great exhibitions up at the Met include The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky and Discovering Japanese Art: American Collectors and the Met, which is part of a celebration of the centennial the Met's Department of Asian Art.
WHAT TO DO AFTER /
After catching a performance (and exploring the rest of the museum, of course), stick with the Spanish theme and head over to Boqueria, a few blocks east on Second Avenue. Order some tapas and drink a bottle of Catalan wine, and start cooking up some "La Celestina"-style schemes to win over that dream girl you've been pining for. (Be sure to avoid ladders, though.)