Friday, August 28, 2015
Co-presented with the Metropolitan Opera. Before Lincoln Center became the place to hear Plácido Domingo sing “La donna è mobile” or witness Anna Netrebko deliver Lucia di Lammermoor’s mad scene, it was where Tony sang “Something’s Coming,” Maria declared “I Feel Pretty,” and the Jets danced to “Gee, Officer Krupke.” Yes, the eternal Leonard Bernstein favorite West Side Story was set in the West 60s, where the Metropolitan Opera House now stands.
So it makes perfect sense for the Met, collaborating with the Film Society of Lincoln Center for the second year running, to open its Summer HD Festival a night early with a screening of the 1961 Romeo and Juliet–inspired classic, co-directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. Natalie Wood stars as good girl Maria (dubbed vocally by Marni Nixon), who falls in love with handsome Tony, played by Richard Beymer, who happens to be the leader of the gang facing off against the faction led by Maria’s brother. Rita Moreno and George Chakiris complete the principal cast (and both won supporting Oscars).
The real star of the show, though, is Bernstein’s glorious score. From “Maria” to “Tonight” to “America” to “Somewhere,” West Side Story features one unforgettable tune after another (not to mention song lyrics by a twentysomething Stephen Sondheim). The story of impossible love and violent death should set the stage ideally for Bizet’s Carmen—the opening opera of the festival the very next night.