Sadly we've come to the end of opera season and only now do I come up with the idea of posting an "Opera for Dummies" weblog. I decided to get the tickets for me and the Mrs. (as opposed to my usual purchase of Hoyas b-ball and Redskins/Cowboys tix) as a way to improve on my culture--currently at a rate of 43 per turn. (I won't even explain that joke.) It is true, I came to enjoy opera from my study abroad days in Vienna (when tickets only cost $5--so I pretty much saw everything). But just because it is old, and in Washington, D.C.'s case, run by Plácido Domingo, doesn't mean it's always good. For instance:
1. This year's production of Verdi's Il Trovatore featured tin-foil looking swords, which performers clashed against each other out of sync with the orchestra--the swords were actually quite heavy, as I tested it backstage during a tour. (I would have loved dragging it around the city. Along with my cape.)
2. Billy Budd. Whoa! Must repressed homosexuality always manifest itself in murder? I know it's a long voyage, and Billy is quite a strapping dude, but did you have to kill him? Does it make you feel any better now? Master and Commander has a whole new meaning.
3. A few seasons ago I saw Bellini's I Puritani, the story of a woman madly in love with her man--so much so she becomes paranoid that he is cheating on her--he isn't--and when all is resolved, she still manages to go insane. But wait, she's better now. I think. They should have called this one I Crazy Bitch.
But there were some highlights too:
1. There is no other word to describe Mozart's The Magic Flute than silly. It's a fantasy that seems to take place in the land of the Smurfs (minus the Smurfs but with an overgrown man-bird). And with a happy ending, it is a refreshing change from your traditional final acts, in which the jealous lover kills his wife's friend, who turns out to be the long-lost brother, so she kills the lover and then jumps off a parapet.
2. Speaking of jumping off parapets, I saw the season-ending opera Tosca last night. This was a tremendous performance. If there is one name to remember, it's Salvatore Licitra, who played Cavaradossi. This guy may very well be the next Pavarotti. (Interestingly enough, it was when Pavarotti fell ill back in 2002 at the Met that Licitra stepped up--in the same role in Tosca.) This is as classic an Italian opera (Puccini no less) as they come, filled with romance, deceit, torture, murder, and suicide. Bring it on!
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