On February 3, 155 students and faculty members will be going on the annual St. Mark's opera trip in New York.
The trip was started in 1997 by Jay Engel, St. Mark's English teacher for 43 years, with the intention that students would come to appreciate this timeless form of entertainment. At first, Engel caused disruption in the school schedule by taking 70 students out of class for the whole day. Now, the school accommodates the trip by changing the schedule and many students look forward to it each year. Since that time Barbara Putnam, longtime visual arts teacher at St. Mark's, has taken leadership of the trip. She hopes that every student will choose to go at least once and gain an appreciation for the artistry involved in the performance.
The Metropolitan Opera House encompasses music, theater, set design, and entertainment. Ms. Putnam and the students of St. Mark's have a longstanding relationship with the Lincoln Center Kitchen, and students have the opportunity to dine there before the opera. The kitchen is usually closed on Mondays, but they are gracious enough to open their doors for St. Mark's each year. In this way, the students get to act as ambassadors for the School, while also experiencing a unique opportunity to enjoy a world-renowned operatic performance. This year, the students will be seeing La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, or "The Women Who Strayed." Set in 1700s France, it follows the tragic love story of Violetta and Alfredo. They face obstacles in the form of disease, Alfredo's family, financial struggles and death.
A few students have chosen to go on the trip for all four years that they have spent at St. Mark's. Whether the students have gone on the trip each year or only once, it is a valuable experience for those who attend.
"Truthfully, I was not looking forward to going my freshman year, just like most people," recalled Sierra Petties '20, "but I decided to give it a try. Now, I am so happy that I chose to go because it is a really fun experience and time to hang out with friends, look around New York City, eat good food, take photos, watch a great show, and not go to school for a day. I would highly recommend going all four years."
In addition to attending the trip, Sierra is a co-head of the student group that helps organize the trip.
"Going to the opera is a very exclusive means of gaining a new perspective on art and high culture," says Truman Chamberlain '20. "I highly recommend taking advantage of it, even if just for one year; go experience a new place, it doesn't happen all the time."