Written by David Vogel Tuesday, 19 January 2010 19:36
In an opera, if characters get stabbed they don’t die. They just sing about it. For a very, very long time. I learned this last Friday when my dad and I went to Wichita to watch “Rigoletto.”
“Rigoletto” is a tragic opera about a rich man who has affairs with other women, and was written by Tiger Woods.
Whoops! Just kidding!
It was actually written in 1850 by Giuseppe Verdi.
Dad and I decided it would be fun to see “Rigoletto” after I sang a piece from the opera called “La donna è mobile” (or in English, “Woman is Fickle”) at a contest last October. (The late Luciano Pavarotti was famous for singing this number.)
This being the first opera I had ever attended, I was interested to see what the audience would be like.
I’m more accustomed to those who attend musicals. The music theater crowd is generally much younger and much, much less secure in which direction their compass is pointing, if you catch my drift.
On the contrary, the opera audience seemed a bit more snobby, and—to use a comic strip analogy—less “Zits” and more “B.C.”
Perhaps I’m being a bit too critical about the opera crowd. But I do have a few observations to back up my over-dramatized description.
Apparently, opera-attendees either lack the ability to tell time, or have a clinically insane obsession with making a grand appearance by being “fashionably late.”
Of course, the true definition of the term “fashionably late” is probably up for debate. I would say it should be five minutes. However, many audience members felt there was no way for them to portray their importance and popularity unless they walked in no earlier than halfway through the first act.
One group—I’m not kidding—made its first appearance long after the curtains opened post-intermission. (Or, for you sports fans out there, “halftime.”)
Of course, after making their grand entrance in the dark, these people then have to stumble to their seats by stepping on the toes of the people who arrived to the opera on time.
Those of us with manners really just wanted to kick the fashionably late fannies into the orchestra pit.
Of course, another great thing to do at an opera is attempt to express how much money you have, as measured in the gaudiness of your scarf or the amount of glitter on your clothing.
And THEN there are the women’s outfits!
In fact, the old guy sitting next to dad was so well off that he paid $53 to dress up in a suit and take a three-hour nap, waking up periodically to look confused and clap.
I, on the other hand, found the opera to be quite interesting.
Perhaps this could be attributed to the fact that this production of “Rigoletto” was being performed by a touring group of mostly Russians who were singing in Italian with near-English sub-titles being projected above the stage.
The sub-title manager, I think, really has the most power in a show like this. He alone has the ability to basically change the entire plot: A few lyrical substitutes, and suddenly “Rigoletto” turns into a show about a court jester who becomes upset when he realizes that both Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell have left “American Idol.”
But I digress. (Come to think of it, maybe I’ve found my calling.)
In this production, the stage crew also seemed to have a lot of influence. Between each act (or, for you sports fans out there, “time outs”) the whole set would be changed for the next scene. This required 10 minutes for each act change.
After we heard a power drill, Dad and I began to wonder if they were actually building the set for each scene change. We half expected the curtains to open with a stagehand still blowing on a piece of scenery to dry the paint.
When the whole thing was said and done, though, I ended up truly enjoying my first opera. (Perhaps one could say it was a successful OPERAtion. Perhaps one could posses a very sick sense of humor.)
Unfortunately, there were no fat women in this show, so we’re all still sitting here in the Mary Jane Teall Theatre at Century II wondering when we’re supposed to leave.
Perhaps this is why the opera crowd always shows up so late.