Thursday, June 15, 2006

Opera Wrap up

Even after my week of music...even after my musical experience in Brussels, came the long-awaited JUNE 8TH...

June 8th was the Marriage of Figaro--the one I was looking forward to the most, and the music was NOT disappointing. Brilliant music! Happy Music! I really loved it. I am debating (and will be for some time, I think) whether Figaro or Carmen had the best music overall...

So, Beth left CZ for good today. She spent the last of her time in Prague, and I went to meet her yesterday and see her off. I got us tickets to see Rigoletto. Why not an opera for the last night in Prague? I chose box seats this time, and they were THE coolest!



Rigoletto was my 7th opera of the year, and now I feel I am qualified to give an opinion on the genre--my impressions...

To make a long story short, Opera is just plain weird. Strange characters behaving strangely (inhumanly) for strange "reasons," or even worse--NO REASONS WHATSOEVER!

Many, many people keep telling me that you don't go to the Opera for story--just to hear the beautiful music, the beautiful singing. And yes, the thought did occur to me too as I was watching (with furrowed brow) The Magic Flute, but...

I am a literature person, and English teacher, and a would-be writer. I NEED story! Not only do I need story, but I need stories to BE stories, to make sense as stories. Beginning, middle, end; reasonable motivation; action that follows to its logical conclusion--or at least humanly understandable conclusion. If you set it up, pay it off. It's a common courtesy to the reader/listener/AUDIENCE. Geez! The problem with characters behaving in ways that are not reasonable or set up to justify their being unreasonable is that there no suspension of disbelief in the shows. If the story isn't important or it isn't supposed to be followed, etc., then why not just have a concert? Just sing the songs and play the music. Are people still writing operas?? Or am I just beating a dead horse here?

Anyway, here are my "official" reviews:

THE BARTERED BRIDE--Smetana; Czech Opera, comedy: My first real Opera ever. Pretty good. Am surprised, though, by the ordinary content of such lofty, artsy singing; "we are happy and carefree because we drink beer. Beer takes away our problems." OK. Some of the action is a little far-fetched, but it's OK; it's a comedy! 4 stars*

THE MAGIC FLUTE--Mozart; Performed in Czech; Great music (obviously): COMPLETELY WHACKED STORY LINE. Builds toward an ending that never materializes. Conflict is resolved without being RESOLVED. It just ends--happily ever after??? Yeah! 3 stars

CARMEN--Bizet; French Opera (performed by Czechs about a Gypsy girl in Spain) Cool, I like the multi-national element. OUTSTANDING MUSIC. Story: not bad. Characters are understandable to an extent. People might behave this way, although some are a bit obsessive, but so are real people. 4 stars

DON GIOVANNI--Mozart; Italian opera; Music is good; Story set-up is not bad; Characters: hmmm. I have trouble suspending that disbelief when a girl is enticed to possibly run away with another man--a man she just met--ON HER WEDDING DAY! The wronged husband never does a thing about it except whine. Another lover swears revenge (to his love) for the killing of his love's father, but also NEVER DOES ANYTHING. He's worse than Hamlet! But in the end, Don Giovanni (Don Juan) the "lover"/seducer/rapist, who does nothing be wreak havoc in other people's lives, goes straight to hell, so I guess there's a moral and a conclusion. And everyone lives happily afterward?? 3 1/2 stars

AIDA--Verdi; Italian Opera (set in Egypt); Great Music; The set was magnificent. I was sucked in from the first opening of the curtain. The ending is sad, but it makes sense. Story is well-structured. An Egyptian military commander falls in love with an Ethiopian Princess who has been made into a slave in Egypt. She loves him too, but they both have trouble deciding between loyalty to homeland or loyalty to each other and to love. Because they can't sort THAT out and make a clear decision, it ends in tragedy. But it is understandable. It's not that problems can't be solved, but people sometimes don't do what is really needed in order to solve them. Stunning performance. 5 stars!!

THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO--Mozart; Italian Opera; OUTSTANDING MUSIC!! Cheerful and uplifting music; Nice set; Comedy--and actually funny! I laughed out loud (and not just ME =)); Because it's a comedy, the plot is a little twisted and crazy, and it's... OK. Excellent performers. 4 1/2 stars...or 5??? hmmmm...

RIGOLETTO--Verdi; Italian Opera; Beautiful music, WONDERFUL singers; Story: well, it was the first time I HAD to go and buy the program to figure out what exactly was going on. Beth and I both were getting confused, so we bought a program at the first intermission so we could check what we THOUGHT was happening against what we were supposed to think was happening. Another skirt-chasing man (a la Don Giovanni) trying to seduce every girl he could get his hands on. He meets a girl whose father was trying to hide her from the world (and men like him, but the father happened to work for this man and HELP in his seducing of OTHER people's daughters) and falls in love for the first time in his life. This "love" lasts all of five minutes, or at least until he is able to "dishonor" her too. All kind of havoc is wreaked in her life and, although he seduced, ruined, and abandoned her ( all the while singing about how WOMEN are fickle and can't be trusted, etc.), she dies to save him from an assassin her father hired because SHE STILL LOVED HIM. Yeah. Ended abruptly. 3 1/2 Stars

Well, that's all for me.


*Ratings range from 1-5 stars, with 5 being best.


Blogger Elaine said...

Okay, say I'm biased...I'm not! Your reviews were so funny and so YOU! I love it. Point well taken, Ky! Have a beginning, middle and end...most definately an END. While I've only seen 3 operas in my time but I must say that I totally agree with you. The music is beautiful, the costumes are colorful and sometimes breathtaking, the singing...well we won't go there, but the feeling of caos and being left wondering why such irrational behavior is considered the norm is what I'm left with. I guess it is "entertainment"? Like I said, I've only seen 3 but have no problem with viewing others before I finalize my opinion. Once again, thanks for sharing.

Much Love

1:17 PM  
Blogger Travelin' Fool said...

Thanks, mom, for seeing the humor! I was cracking myself up writing those! I made a mistake though. The Bartered Bride was NOT my first opera ever. I had seen one Opera in LA, long ago, Der Fledermaus (don't know if I spelled that right), by Strauss. It was FUN-NY! One of my friends from college sang in it. So I ma up one more opera than I had thought...maybe there were others???

9:04 AM  

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