Friday, March 18, 2005

Opera Opiate

Hello, faithful but few readers! Today, I thought I would create a post about one of my not too well-known passions: the opera. Now, I know some of you are looking at the screen with confused, cow-eye stares and cocking your head slightly to the right…but try to stay with me.

While I find it interesting that a person who likes beer, sports and topless dancers would be remotely interested in something as moving and sensitive as the opera, I am also very proud of my hobby. Having played the violin for many years, I have always had an appreciation of the arts, and the opera is nothing more than that: art.

So, now that I’ve defended my passion to you (which may, or may not have been necessary) I will continue with today’s discussion.

Monday night, I attended Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) by Giuseppe Verdi at the Kansas City Lyric with Jenni and my mother. Our seats were not bad (balcony center 4th row up), except for the fact that we were pretty crowded in, and uncomfortable. However, once the performance started, we displayed complete knowledge of our surroundings, and in a very baseball game move…proceeded to move to less inhabited seats so we could stretch our legs. The performance began, and I settled down for a night of fun.

Oh Lordy….was I wrong.

Act 1
Ah, I see they are going to try to assassinate the king. Wait…now the king is blathering on about some chick he’s in love with. Oh! She’s married…of course. And her husband is…(gasp) his best friend. Oh, this should be good!

The best thing I can say for the first act, was that everybody was singing in key and the costumes were cool. The stage props and design were impressive; as they used ambient light to simulate the morning sun through the windows. Other than that, I had nothing good to say about it.

Act 2
The king is still babbling on about his true love…who happens to be married to his best friend…who happens to be the one man keeping the king alive while the assassination attempts grow more and more dangerous. I wonder if cats spin constantly in space, trying to gain balance? This seat is not very comfortable. Jen has now informed me that this opera has a running time of 3 friggin hours. Uh-oh.

Act 2 was pretty much the same stuff, and I really can’t say much about it. The plot began to get a bit more interesting, but really that I’ve already given you a complete synopsis of the entire event…so much so, that you can now speak intelligently about this opera, even if you’ve never seen it (I won’t discuss the ending because some of you may desire to see it, despite my little review). Frankly, the plot was a little cliché and boring. Oh, and the lady that plays the king’s love interest has a fondness for falling down on the ground and weep-singing. How passionate….gag.

Act 3
Uh-oh, the king’s love for the married woman has surfaced…and his best friend is (surprise) angry. He might….oh, no! He might kill the king! What a shocker. And that lady is back on her damn knees again, doing that weep-singing thing! Now the king has decided to have a ball…a masked ball. I wonder what will happen next. Dammit, lady! Get up off the ground and take acting lessons! Cripes.

I bet cats would constantly spin, if they were in outer space. I mean, they say cats always land on their feet….but what if there is no gravity to help them? Hmm. Damn, this seat is really uncomfortable! How much time is left? I want my bunky.

The third act was by far the most interesting of the entire opera. The plot “twists” were extremely predictable, and left nothing to the imagination. Some of the scenes were not that great, either. I will say that one of the performers (the married guy who’s wife loves the king) did an excellent job during his “my heart is breaking” solo; it was very good and I could almost taste the pain behind the music.

* * *

All in all, Un Ballo in Maschera was not the best opera I have seen. I did not sympathize with any of the characters, which in my opinion is essential to loving an opera. I also felt like the story was interesting, but stretched out and over done and used up. The singing was great, but the songs were not memorable. I would not buy a recording of this opera, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t see it ever again.

Now, having said that, here is what the Kansas City star thought about the performance, so maybe you should read their review, instead. However, if you trust my opera judgment at all, you will steer clear of this performance, and wait until Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) by Mozart hits the Lyric in April. I personally cannot wait for that one, as it proves to be a great performance indeed.

Click Here for Ticket Info

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