Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Opera Report

I'm back from San Antonio, and I've seen my first opera. And, uhhhhh, well ... I hate to go all philistine here, but I think all my future opera-going will involve operas in which I have relatives, or at least good friends, performing. La Boheme is, I know, an excellent work. But it did seem to me that the basic plot is one that would have been rejected by pretty much any soap opera producer. Consider: her name is Lucia, although everyone calls her Mimi, and she doesn't know why. As the final curtain falls, the audience still doesn't know why. She's got a cold. It turns into a bad cold, probably pneumonia, in fact, and she's too weak to reliably negotiate a flight of stairs, but it doesn't seem odd to her to head out with Rodolfo for an evening of hilarity at the Cafe Momus in the middle of the winter. She and Rodolfo aren't getting along, and he says that it's because she's cozying up to Count So-and-So, and we can't tell whether this is true or not ... but then they partially reconcile and seem to settle on a plan whereby they'll stay together until spring so that he can keep her icy little hand warm, but then in the spring, they plan to part, for some crackbrained reason or other. Then she takes to her deathbed and pretty much croaks off anyway, even though Musetta does go and get her a fur muff to put her icy little hands in.

But, of course, the lady in the chorus who was vending oranges from a basket that she toted around did so superbly. (And of course, I'm not saying so merely because she's my sister.) She also showed me the copy of the music that she was given from which to memorize them-there Italian lyrics. There was an English translation provided, which made the lyrics fairly comical. Most of the ladies in the chorus seemed to be tunefully chiding the children in the crowd because they weren't home in bed where they belonged ("such a tidy little beating I will give you!").

I think I'll have a chance to go back for Tosca in the spring. "Another tragedy," says my sister the diva. She thinks it may involve at least one murder. I could look it up, but maybe I'll just let it be a surprise.


Karen Goldner said...

My uncle's brother was an opera singer, so when my cousin (his niece...try to follow along here) got married, he sang at the wedding. So far so good, except that the wedding was in her parents' living room. It's a nice living room, don't get me wrong, and bigger than mine, but it maxed out at about 50 folding chairs all lined up (plus the couch). Let's just say that his voice was beautiful, but a bit disproportionate to the room.

David said...

Hi. Opera is like beer, an acquired taste. Some plots are better than others but it's in the pure passion of it all (esp. when dealing with Puccini) in which you should look for pleasure. Tosca is fantastic; I'd also suggest Madame Butterfly and Turandot (where we find the perennial favorite "nessun dorma")if Puccini floats your boat.

For a gourmet dinner with friends, why not try some Mozart, the Magic Flute or the Marriage of Figaro?

Frederica von Stade with "Voi che sapete"


Bartleby said...

Karen: that could possibly have been life-threatening.

David: Thanks for the link. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it very much.

Karen Goldner said...

I was fortunate to make it out of the wedding with nothing worse than a couple of grains of rice in my shoe and about 2 extra pounds from the reception - but I appreciate your concern.

itsmecissy said...

My hubby sings opera in the shower every morning -not Pavorotti, may he RIP- but every bit as enthusiatic. Gotta love em!!!