I Didn’t See a Fat Lady

29 Mar

Get excited; it’s Lollipop Tuesday.

After last week’s Rock Climbing “Adventure”, I thought it appropriate to go a little more hands-off.  So this week, I went to my first opera.

I’m kind of surprised that I’ve been in theater for so long and never managed to encounter an opera.  Well, there was this one time when I was a teacher at a performing arts camp, but it was this absolutely terrible show about Ruth and Naomi and it was all sung poorly and in English.   And quite frankly, if there aren’t Viking hats or different languages, it just doesn’t qualify in my book.

So I ventured over to the theater having no idea what to expect.  I had kind of accepted that I would probably hate it.  I tend to make those decisions sometimes without really knowing anything about the subject.  But luckily thanks to this Lollipop Tuesday series, I’m slowly and painfully working on that flaw.  I’m finding that a lot of experiences are not at all what I make them out to be inside my head.

Reality is so much more badass. …And courtesy of the Pittsburgh Opera.

The opera was Puccini’s Turandot and as it turned out, there were no Vikings of any kind.  Just incredibly sweet sets, super awesome costumes, and subtitles.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought opera wouldn’t have subtitles.  I imagined something like the scene from Moonstruck where Cher and Nicolas Cage stare at the stage and just know what’s happening.  But I’m actually really glad there was a translation.  Reading the program guide can only explain so much when the lead begins a 15 minute long song, you’re staring at a cloak with 20 human heads hanging inside, and the whole village is weeping and gnashing teeth.

It was intense.

The thing that really surprised me was how extravagant the set was and how each costume was so intricate in detail and over-the-top in spectacle.   But I suppose that when you go see a show in a foreign language that has no upbeat dance numbers, you’ve gotta have something to look at.

I really need to get cast in theater companies with bigger budgets.

The only unfortunate part of the evening was the couple sitting to the far left of me, one row ahead.  Apparently they had a lot to say about, well, everything.  They didn’t even try to whisper, which is the real kicker.  And since I’ve been known to walk up to people who are rude in the theater and have civil, logical conversations with them about how they’re the reason people stay inside to watch movies, I was a little concerned about the little baby hellfire flame that was lit in the pit of my stomach when I heard them start to talk.

Luckily, their cacophony of disrespect was overshadowed by a woman who “snuck” in a bag of chips in her purse.  I’d argue that someone who isn’t a moron might try sneaking in something just slightly more discreet next time, but she seemed genuinely convinced that adjusting the packaging ever so slowly was an effective means of concealing her sin.

And she, like all others who make that assumption, was drowning in a thick, infested pool of denial between her loud crunches.

My thin, fickle patience aside, it was a lovely experience.  Dare I say I enjoyed it.

Man, I can’t believe I just said I enjoyed opera. 

Want to make a pilgrimage to higher culture yourself?  Check out the Pittsburgh Opera.

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12 Responses to “I Didn’t See a Fat Lady”

  1. Lucy's Mom March 29, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Why in the world would someone take a bag of chips to an opera? Or any show period? Can’t go 2 hours without stuffing your face? Unbelievable!

    Glad you enjoyed the show 🙂

    • Jackie March 31, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

      Right?! I have a hard enough time dealing with it at the movie theater and you’re actually allowed to have food in there. I turn into a bitter old hag with noisy audience members.

  2. misswhiplash March 29, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    well done Jackie. As you say , not as adventurous as ascending a rock wall but never the less a first time attempt, well executed. I have never been an opera fan, ballet yes, but I think with opera I would fall asleep.
    It is good that you enjoyed your foray into upper culture, but will you do it again?

    Love P

    • Jackie March 31, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

      You should try it, P! I’ll bet it’s not as snooze-inducing as you might think. 😉

  3. Renee Davies March 29, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    It has to be ignorance that convinces people that talking loudly and snacking and crackly foods while at the opera is okay. I was at a movie (where rules are obviously less stringent) when a lady had a long and loud conversation on her cellphone while the rest tried to focus on the movie’s dialogue. When people turned to her, expressing their displeasure, she got up cussing loudly and left. Weirdness. Carmen and La Boheme are two good operas to see too.

    • Jackie March 31, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

      That’s so ridiculous. There is absolutely no way I would put up with that in the middle of a movie. I’d tell her directly and if it didn’t work I’d get an usher. Absolutely can’t stand it.

  4. The_Observationalist_NYC March 29, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Love this- was at the movies this past weekend, and shocked at the amount of talking throughout the movie. Granted, the movie was terrible, and hearing the plot summary from the group next to me was more entertaining, but still…

    Where has etiquette gone?

    Congrats on enjoying Opera! It really can be wonderful.

    • Jackie March 31, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

      Right?! People suck. Thanks a lot! I’m glad I liked it – it’s been pleasant to have my mind changed from time to time. 🙂

  5. Jules March 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    I think the lack of etiquette in theaters today could be caused by complacency. If people are not vigilant about pointing out the rule breakers, then they’re subconsciously projecting that this is acceptable behavior. Sometimes, it’s best to take one for the team, do a greater good and just upright tell someone to STFU and/or GTFO.

    Or it could be just as Renee stated. Ignorant people, being ignorant.

    • Jackie March 31, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

      Yes. Standing ovation.

  6. Sheila April 6, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Jacks! I’m so glad you saw your first opera!!!!!

    I regularly hiss at people who text or screw with their phones at the Met. Or you can simply say in your best Ms. Manner’s voice, “Did you know you’re being incredibly rude?” I’ve never encountered a chip-eater, though…I might have an aneurysm if I did.

    Anyway, as for operas being uber-elaborate in the set/costume design department, I once met a guy who does a lot of set work on operas. He told me that he once freaked about because he made a $3,000.00 mistake on a set piece and his supervisors were like, “no biggie…this one time I made a $20,000 mistake…”

    Also, elaborate opera productions stay in use for decades and are often traded around the country/world with other houses’ productions.

    Now, you didn’t say what you thought about the singing…

    • Jackie April 9, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      Yeah we used to make the same jokes in the scene shop – every mistake made costs money. Those are pretty hefty mistakes though… that’s wild! I liked the singing. A lot of folks were just marking everything because it was the final dress, but the lead male definitely went all out and it was lovely.

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