Opera

Human resources manager Irina Shifrin on some of her favorite moments in opera.

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All of a sudden it all came together. There was no acting. There was no theater. There was frighteningly real, raw emotion.

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  • Irina Shifrin
    1280852
  • Opening Night, Metropolitan Opera  |  1955  |  Garry Winogrand (American)  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Gift of John Korman, 1992 (1992.5031)  |  © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
    12801001
  • Opera coat  |  1912  |  Paul Poiret (French)  |  Yellow and pale blue silk satin, black silk velvet, turquoise silk satin with gold and silver filé crocheted overlay, and silver filé trapunto half-belt and trim  |  Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1982 (1982.350.2)
    5301024
  • Opera coat  |  1912  |  Paul Poiret (French)  |  Yellow and pale blue silk satin, black silk velvet, turquoise silk satin with gold and silver filé crocheted overlay, and silver filé trapunto half-belt and trim  |  Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1982 (1982.350.2)
    5861024
  • Opera coat  |  1912  |  Paul Poiret (French)  |  Yellow and pale blue silk satin, black silk velvet, turquoise silk satin with gold and silver filé crocheted overlay, and silver filé trapunto half-belt and trim  |  Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1982 (1982.350.2)
    4851024
  • Mezzetin  |  ca. 1718–20  |  Jean Antoine Watteau (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Munsey Fund, 1934 (34.138)
    8011024
  • The Spanish Gypsy  |  1912  |  Robert Henri (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1914 (14.80)
    8261024
  • The Spanish Gypsy  |  1912  |  Robert Henri (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1914 (14.80)
    7441024
  • A Matador  |  1866–67  |  Édouard Manet (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Signed (lower left): Manet  |  H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.52)
    6821024
  • The Old Courtesan  |  modeled 1887, this bronze cast 1910  |  Auguste Rodin (French)  |  Bronze  |  Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910 (11.173.3)
    7041024
  • Orpheus and Eurydice  |  probably modeled before 1887, executed 1893  |  Auguste Rodin (French)  |  Marble  |  Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910 (10.63.2)
    7871024
  • Orpheus and Eurydice  |  probably modeled before 1887, executed 1893  |  Auguste Rodin (French)  |  Marble  |  Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910 (10.63.2)
    7371024
  • Kimono with carp, water lilies, and morning glories  |  Meiji period, ca. 1876  |  Japan  |  Resist-dyed, painted, and embroidered silk gauze (ro)  |  Gift of Naoki Nomura, 2006 (2006.73.2)
    8911024
  • Salomé  |  1870  |  Henri Regnault (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Signed, dated, and inscribed (left center): HRegnault [initials in monogram] / Rome 1870  |  Gift of George F. Baker, 1916 (16.95)
    6401024
  • Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist  |  probably ca. 1506–7  |  Andrea Solario (Italian)  |  Oil on wood  |  The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931 (32.100.81)
    8401024
  • Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist  |  probably ca. 1506–7  |  Andrea Solario (Italian)  |  Oil on wood  |  The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931 (32.100.81)
    8581024
  • Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist  |  probably ca. 1506–7  |  Andrea Solario (Italian)  |  Oil on wood  |  The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931 (32.100.81)
    8741024
  • The Ballet from Robert le Diable  |  1871  |  Edgar Degas (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Signed and dated (lower right): Degas / 1872  |  H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.552)
    8471024
  • Architectural Ruins with a View of a Garden; Stage design for Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera, "Robert le diable"  |  19th century  |  Carlo Ferrario (Italian)  |  Graphite; partly squared in graphite  |  The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962 (62.570.22)
    1280983
  • Louis Gueymard (1822–1880) as Robert le Diable  |  1857  |  Gustave Courbet (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Signed (lower left): G. Courbet.  |  Gift of Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, 1919 (19.84)
    7371024
  • A Theater Audience  |  19th century  |  Honoré Daumier (French)  |  Pen and black ink, gouache, and watercolor over black chalk  |  Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971 (1972.118.203)
    8941024
  • Pierrot Laughing  |  1855  |  Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (French); Adrien Tournachon (French)  |  Coated salted paper print from glass negative  |  Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1998 (1998.57)
    7451024
  • The Spanish Singer  |  1860  |  Édouard Manet (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Signed and dated (right, on bench): ed. Manet 1860  |  Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.2)
    7991024
  • Two Opera Singers  |  1749–50  |  Johann Joachim Kändler (German) after a composition by Charles-Nicholas Cochin le Jeune (French); Meissen Manufactory (German)  |  Hard-paste porcelain  |  Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.56)
    12711024
  • Irina Shifrin
    1280852
  • I'm Irina Shifrin, and I work in human resources, and my topic is opera.

  • There are very few moments in our life that make you feel that

  • it's a big moment. And you can get spoiled and that's how opera makes me feel.

  • In the midst of our busy week

  • it's a celebration. It's music

  • it's acting, it's costume, it's scenery, it's poetry. And above all, it's the operatic human voice.

  • Carmen was a breakthrough for me. All of the sudden it all came together, and there was no acting, there was no theater. There was frighteningly real, raw emotion.

  • This painting makes me think about Carmen. The way she entered with a stared defiance, old and mysterious like a sphinx. And one cannot really get Carmen

  • without Manet, that colorful, intense, sensual, a little bit violent culture. When I look at the matador I think, "This is Escamillio," and he could have just step off Carmen's set.

  • Each time La Traviata's main character, a famous courtesan, Violetta, dies, for a moment the world seems such a dull and lifeless place. This statue reconciles me to Violetta's death. If she didn't die that's how she would look. And that's probably why composers and librettists love to kill their leading characters while they're still young and beautiful.

  • I associate Monteverdi's Orpheo with this statue. Orpheus is leading Eurydice from the underworld. He's not supposed to look at her.

  • And it's very dramatic, it's very uncertain. And he is asking, "who will assure me that she follows me?" She's also confused why Orpheus is not looking at her. Doesn't he love her anymore?

  • When I look at this kimono and its bewitching beauty I think about Madame Butterfly and Pinkerton, who is in love with her, even though he might injure her butterfly wings. I think exactly the same thoughts. I must have it!

  • Regnault's Salomé is triumphant, happy, careless. It's just the wind. It's just the caprice.

  • Solario's painting, she seem to be so unemotional. In the opera

  • she's all about emotion. She's bored, she doesn't know what she wants, and she's in pain.

  • She's ready to pay with her life for getting her desires fulfilled.

  • Robert le Diable is considered to be one of the first grand operas, that would have four or five acts, huge casts

  • and very lavish, splendid productions. Today even largest opera houses simply cannot afford this kind of expensive production.

  • You can imagine how taxing it must be on a singer, not to mention

  • the audience, to sit through four or five acts. There's a whole range of psychology that studies

  • the psychology of happiness. One of the theories is that the only time when we are happy is when we are in the flow.

  • When you lose track of time. When you forget about the problems of your life.

  • Being in the opera, listening to the human operatic voice, gets me into the flow, and

  • that's when I'm happy.

  • 1992.5031
    Opening Night, Metropolitan Opera, 1955, Garry Winogrand (American), Gelatin silver print Gift of John Korman, 1992 (1992.5031) © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
  • 1982.350.2
    Opera coat, 1912, Paul Poiret (French), Yellow and pale blue silk satin, black silk velvet, turquoise silk satin with gold and silver filé crocheted overlay, and silver filé trapunto half-belt and trim Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1982 (1982.350.2)
  • 34.138
    Mezzetin, ca. 1718–20, Jean Antoine Watteau (French), Oil on canvas Munsey Fund, 1934 (34.138)
  • 14.80
    The Spanish Gypsy, 1912, Robert Henri (American), Oil on canvas Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1914 (14.80)
  • 29.100.52
    A Matador, 1866–67, Édouard Manet (French), Oil on canvas, Signed (lower left): Manet H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.52)
  • 11.173.3
    The Old Courtesan, modeled 1887, this bronze cast 1910, Auguste Rodin (French), Bronze Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910 (11.173.3)
  • 10.63.2
    Orpheus and Eurydice, probably modeled before 1887, executed 1893, Auguste Rodin (French), Marble Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910 (10.63.2)
  • 2006.73.2
    Kimono with carp, water lilies, and morning glories, Meiji period, ca. 1876, Japan, Resist-dyed, painted, and embroidered silk gauze (ro) Gift of Naoki Nomura, 2006 (2006.73.2)
  • 16.95
    Salomé, 1870, Henri Regnault (French), Oil on canvas, Signed, dated, and inscribed (left center): HRegnault [initials in monogram] / Rome 1870 Gift of George F. Baker, 1916 (16.95)
  • 32.100.81
    Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, probably ca. 1506–7, Andrea Solario (Italian), Oil on wood The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931 (32.100.81)
  • 29.100.552
    The Ballet from Robert le Diable, 1871, Edgar Degas (French), Oil on canvas, Signed and dated (lower right): Degas / 1872 H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.552)
  • 62.570.22
    Architectural Ruins with a View of a Garden; Stage design for Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera, "Robert le diable", 19th century, Carlo Ferrario (Italian), Graphite; partly squared in graphite The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962 (62.570.22)
  • 19.84
    Louis Gueymard (1822–1880) as Robert le Diable, 1857, Gustave Courbet (French), Oil on canvas, Signed (lower left): G. Courbet. Gift of Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, 1919 (19.84)
  • 1972.118.203
    A Theater Audience, 19th century, Honoré Daumier (French), Pen and black ink, gouache, and watercolor over black chalk Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971 (1972.118.203)
  • 1998.57
    Pierrot Laughing, 1855, Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (French); Adrien Tournachon (French), Coated salted paper print from glass negative Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1998 (1998.57)
  • 49.58.2
    The Spanish Singer, 1860, Édouard Manet (French), Oil on canvas, Signed and dated (right, on bench): ed. Manet 1860 Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.2)
  • 64.101.56
    Two Opera Singers, 1749–50, Johann Joachim Kändler (German) after a composition by Charles-Nicholas Cochin le Jeune (French); Meissen Manufactory (German), Hard-paste porcelain Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.56)
  • Opening Night, Metropolitan Opera, 1955, Garry Winogrand (American), Gelatin silver print Gift of John Korman, 1992 (1992.5031) © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
    Opera coat, 1912, Paul Poiret (French), Yellow and pale blue silk satin, black silk velvet, turquoise silk satin with gold and silver filé crocheted overlay, and silver filé trapunto half-belt and trim Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1982 (1982.350.2)
    Mezzetin, ca. 1718–20, Jean Antoine Watteau (French), Oil on canvas Munsey Fund, 1934 (34.138)
    The Spanish Gypsy, 1912, Robert Henri (American), Oil on canvas Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1914 (14.80)
    A Matador, 1866–67, Édouard Manet (French), Oil on canvas, Signed (lower left): Manet H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.52)
    The Old Courtesan, modeled 1887, this bronze cast 1910, Auguste Rodin (French), Bronze Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910 (11.173.3)
    Orpheus and Eurydice, probably modeled before 1887, executed 1893, Auguste Rodin (French), Marble Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910 (10.63.2)
    Kimono with carp, water lilies, and morning glories, Meiji period, ca. 1876, Japan, Resist-dyed, painted, and embroidered silk gauze (ro) Gift of Naoki Nomura, 2006 (2006.73.2)
    Salomé, 1870, Henri Regnault (French), Oil on canvas, Signed, dated, and inscribed (left center): HRegnault [initials in monogram] / Rome 1870 Gift of George F. Baker, 1916 (16.95)
    Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, probably ca. 1506–7, Andrea Solario (Italian), Oil on wood The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931 (32.100.81)
    The Ballet from Robert le Diable, 1871, Edgar Degas (French), Oil on canvas, Signed and dated (lower right): Degas / 1872 H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.552)
    Architectural Ruins with a View of a Garden; Stage design for Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera, "Robert le diable", 19th century, Carlo Ferrario (Italian), Graphite; partly squared in graphite The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962 (62.570.22)
    Louis Gueymard (1822–1880) as Robert le Diable, 1857, Gustave Courbet (French), Oil on canvas, Signed (lower left): G. Courbet. Gift of Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, 1919 (19.84)
    A Theater Audience, 19th century, Honoré Daumier (French), Pen and black ink, gouache, and watercolor over black chalk Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971 (1972.118.203)
    Pierrot Laughing, 1855, Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (French); Adrien Tournachon (French), Coated salted paper print from glass negative Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1998 (1998.57)
    The Spanish Singer, 1860, Édouard Manet (French), Oil on canvas, Signed and dated (right, on bench): ed. Manet 1860 Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.2)
    Two Opera Singers, 1749–50, Johann Joachim Kändler (German) after a composition by Charles-Nicholas Cochin le Jeune (French); Meissen Manufactory (German), Hard-paste porcelain Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.56)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    Opening Night, Metropolitan Opera
    1955
    Garry Winogrand (American)
    Gelatin silver print
    Gift of John Korman, 1992 (1992.5031)
    © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Opera coat
    1912
    Paul Poiret (French)
    Yellow and pale blue silk satin, black silk velvet, turquoise silk satin with gold and silver filé crocheted overlay, and silver filé trapunto half-belt and trim
    Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 1982 (1982.350.2)
    Not on view
    The Costume InstituteFirst Floor
    Mezzetin
    ca. 1718–20
    Jean Antoine Watteau (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Munsey Fund, 1934 (34.138)
    On view: Gallery 616
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    The Spanish Gypsy
    1912
    Robert Henri (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1914 (14.80)
    Not on view
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    A Matador
    1866–67
    Édouard Manet (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Signed (lower left): Manet
    H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.52)
    On view: Gallery 810
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    The Old Courtesan
    modeled 1887, this bronze cast 1910
    Auguste Rodin (French)
    Bronze
    Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910 (11.173.3)
    On view: Gallery 800
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsSecond Floor
    Orpheus and Eurydice
    probably modeled before 1887, executed 1893
    Auguste Rodin (French)
    Marble
    Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910 (10.63.2)
    On view: Gallery 800
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsSecond Floor
    Kimono with carp, water lilies, and morning glories
    Meiji period, ca. 1876
    Japan
    Resist-dyed, painted, and embroidered silk gauze (ro)
    Gift of Naoki Nomura, 2006 (2006.73.2)
    Not on view
    Asian ArtSecond Floor
    Salomé
    1870
    Henri Regnault (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Signed, dated, and inscribed (left center): HRegnault [initials in monogram] / Rome 1870
    Gift of George F. Baker, 1916 (16.95)
    On view: Gallery 800
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist
    probably ca. 1506–7
    Andrea Solario (Italian)
    Oil on wood
    The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931 (32.100.81)
    On view: Gallery 608
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    The Ballet from Robert le Diable
    1871
    Edgar Degas (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Signed and dated (lower right): Degas / 1872
    H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.552)
    On view: Gallery 815
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Architectural Ruins with a View of a Garden; Stage design for Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera, "Robert le diable"
    19th century
    Carlo Ferrario (Italian)
    Graphite; partly squared in graphite
    The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962 (62.570.22)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    Louis Gueymard (1822–1880) as Robert le Diable
    1857
    Gustave Courbet (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Signed (lower left): G. Courbet.
    Gift of Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, 1919 (19.84)
    On view: Gallery 809
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    A Theater Audience
    19th century
    Honoré Daumier (French)
    Pen and black ink, gouache, and watercolor over black chalk
    Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971 (1972.118.203)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    Pierrot Laughing
    1855
    Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (French); Adrien Tournachon (French)
    Coated salted paper print from glass negative
    Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1998 (1998.57)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    The Spanish Singer
    1860
    Édouard Manet (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Signed and dated (right, on bench): ed. Manet 1860
    Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.2)
    On view: Gallery 810
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Two Opera Singers
    1749–50
    Johann Joachim Kändler (German) after a composition by Charles-Nicholas Cochin le Jeune (French); Meissen Manufactory (German)
    Hard-paste porcelain
    Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.56)
    On view: Gallery 684
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor

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