Wednesday, November 19, 2008

mezzo review

I’ve got a few under my belt and I can make a broad assessment: a lot of time passes while little happens. You could wrap up the events of an opera in a 15-minute infomercial if your feet were to the fire. The six-word version of what happens in any opera is this – they met, they loved, and death. I defy you to find an opera that doesn’t follow that storyline; feel free to fill in the middle bits with whatever you find interesting. While you’re building your masterpiece you need to remember that at the stroke of death…the curtain drops, no carrying on allowed. As X pointed out, this isn’t like Hamlet where there’s death overflow until no one’s left standing: Polonius, Ophelia, Claudius, Queen Gertrude, Laertes, and Hamlet. That play drags on and on – there’s no single DeathCurtain moment. The opera doesn’t play that game and I fear that about a hundred years ago all the ideas had been mined:

(imagine a street outside a cigarette factory)

Bizet: Ciao, Giacomo. I’ve written another opera.
Puccini: Georges! Fantastico! Tell me of it.
Bizet: Ah, yes. A guy meets a girl in the opening scene. Let’s call her something diminutive like…Carmencita.
Puccini: Bellisima! Tell me more!
Bizet: They fight all the time. Every single scene. Long, drawn out arguments that devolve into much declaring of love and hatred. Ah, amour!
Puccini: Buono! What happens next?
Bizet: Well, they’ll be forced, or maybe they’ll choose, to live in exile on an island, or in the mountains, or maybe in a cold artists’ studio in a European city.
Puccini: Scintillante! How does it end?
Bizet: Maybe he dies. Maybe she dies. Curtains!
Puccini: Brillante! You should add some lengthy songs in French. Maybe songs that reflect such indecisions as love, fear, warmth, or death.
Bizet: Extraordinaire!

I haven’t misled anyone, right? I enjoy the opera. I enjoy all live performance because it’s become something so foreign to people. There’s either a lack of availability in some areas, the cost is prohibitive, or the cable box / dish owns the entertainment attention. Last night’s show was pretty good but not stunning. As so often happens, there were secondary male and female characters or actors, Escamillo and Micaela in this case, that outperformed the leads. Being that we didn’t have Denyce Graves playing Carmen it’s hard to judge the outcome of the real Carmen v. Micaela duel. If nothing else, Bizet managed to write some famous and memorable diddies for this opera. There must have been at least five pieces I recognized but didn’t know came from a single opera. I bet all the other opera writers thought his stuff was too poppy sounding. Maybe they considered him a sellout – his stuff would have been used in Ford and Apple commercials back in the day.

Our next outing will be Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross at the beloved Keegan Theatre. I thought of watching the movie again before seeing the stage rendition but I don’t want to dull the drama of competing for a Cadillac, steak knives, or your job.

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