A disadvantage of being married is that I sometimes have to go to things that I would rather not, such as opera (although I usually get a pair of earrings out of it – https://www.coventgarden.london/shopping/les-neredies).
Now when I was younger I didn’t mind so much but my patience seems to have decreased with age and I find it difficult sitting through hours of what sometimes sounds like screeching (sometimes I am lucky and fall asleep).
My reasons for disliking opera are:
1) It us usually in a language I don’t understand. The Royal Opera House (http://www.roh.org.uk/) very kindly put up surtitles but in reading them you miss what is happening on the stage. The English National Opera (https://www.eno.org) have opera in English but you need surtitles because it is difficult to hear what sopranos are singing.
2) It seems to take hours for a singer to sing a sentence and recitative (http://dictionary.onmusic.org/terms/2836-recitative) drives me nuts.
3) The storyline is usually preposterous
4) Anything written by Wagner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wagner)
There are some things I do like however:
1) La Fille du Regiment) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_fille_du_r%C3%A9giment) because it is funny and has tremendous singing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3uhUgEbvqk)
2) It can be a moving experience. I don’t think I have seen Suor Angelica without sobbing at the end ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suor_Angelica). Similarly if Madam Butterfly is done well I will be crying at the end (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madama_Butterfly). If you have a chance, go and see Anthony Minghella’s version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZUlVo7zFV0)
3) Satyagraha (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyagraha_(opera)) an opera loosely based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. The sound is amazing and it doesn’t matter that you have no idea what is being sung (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUhl6TktPBQ)
Opera can sometime make you think.
1) Recently the ENO were showing Rigoletto and for the first time I actually connected with it by thinking how parts of it ring true to what is going on in the world at the time of writing. For those who aren’t equated with the story Rigoletto is a sort of jester to a horrible Duke who spends most of his time seducing/doing nasty things to women (and other horrible things).
He has a large bunch of hangers on (including Rigoletto) who do his bidding. He manages to get hold of Rigoletto’s daughter, who becomes convinced that the Duke loves her and in the end she gives up her life for him. All I could think of is that the “Duke” is Donald Trump, Rigoletto is the poor bloke who has to do the press conferences (and looks like he believes none of it), the hangers on are obvious and Rigoletto’s daughter are not just the women who have suffered from The Donald’s unwanted attentions but the people in the US who voted for him and still believe he is the best thing since sliced bread.
Another thing that passed through my mind whilst watching Rigoletto is how the terrible opinion of women by certain men (I don’t blame Verdi as he was just using a play that reflected men’s opinions at that time) still hold true today, the gradual eroding of the rights of women. I know that the majority of men are horrified by the behaviour of a tiny majority who think that having a penis gives them rights over women. To be perfectly honest I don’t understand where this idea, that women are inferior to men, came from. I did do some research (ok I googled it) and it appears that when humans were hunter gatherers there were no inferior women. The problems started when agriculture began. Men wanted to protect the land whilst women had the babies.
2) Adriana Lecouveur. On the face of it this is another opera with a preposterous story (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adriana_Lecouvreur) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVnDa7DsYNY). The opera is about a French actress living around 1730 (the character did actually exist https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrienne_Lecouvreur) who thinks she is in love with a common soldier, who professes to be in love with her. He is not a common soldier but a Count, who already has a mistress, who is a princess, married to a prince. The princess and Adriana find out about each other and, are of cause, rather angry with each other. The opera ends with Adriana being poisoned by the princess.
Now let’s look at this logically. The princess is married so she can’t really have the Count. Adriana was an actress. The Count would not have risked the displeasure of the aristocracy by marrying an actress. So Adriana can’t have the Count. In fact when the real Adrienne Lecouvreur died she wasn’t even given a Christian burial as the church considered acting in a similar vein to prostitution.
But the thing that crossed my mind was, why are the two women having a go at each other? Neither of them can have the Count so why don’t they both get together and tell the Count to P—s off.
Oh joy. Next opera is Wagners Meistersinger!!!!!!!!!!