Sunday, January 17, 2016

Do not profess undying love

The opera was everything I had imagined … and more. I will probably go back to the encore to catch what I missed the first time. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed the chorus more. They were situated on the stage so as to look as though they were part of a village in the Far East: repairing nets, weaving, giving a hair cut, getting a hair cut, mending clothes. I could hear the people behind me somewhat confused for the setting was now – a bill board was in the background, for example. That didn't bother me.  But having had read the review, I had the advantage of expecting that setting.
The Pearl Fishers

I didn’t get tired of the palate of colours used in the clothing of the villagers, nor of the clever staging. The princess arrived in a boat and it seemed as though the boat was floating on water. The overture was carried along by a visual on stage where by we could see three divers looking for pearls. The waves of the tsunami could have brought on sea sickness and the fire in the village at the end of the show was a great visual though morally disturbing. Do you really set fire to a village to save two people from an execution?   But that is just opera.

These older Victorians are nutty. They filled up two IMAX theatres. I could hear the clerk who was selling ticketks explaining that both of the theatres were sold out. A woman leaned over and said she wanted to get to the front of the line so that she could return a ticket. I bought it so that worked out for me.

While waiting for the show to begin a chatted a bit with the woman to my right. I was mocking the usher who let everyone into the theatre early. “Too cold for all of you stand outside. The theatre isn’t clean yet, but you could queue up in the mezzanine if you are willing to do that.”

“Too cold? A slight drizzle, no wind and about five above. In Alberta we call that spring.”

The woman to my left told me that she comes to the operas but she isn’t going to see Jane Eyre. I told her I had seen it once and was coming back to see it the second time later this month. She told me that she had discussed it with her friends in December and they had decided not to go to it. “Too long,” she said, “well over 3 hours”.  "Yes.  It used to be a two day show and they made them tighten it up before they brought it to London for the run there."  I told her that I was glad she wasn't coming for I wanted less people at the theatre and not more. She said, “Maybe I will call them up and say she should go."  Where did I go wrong in that conversation?

Committed to seeing the operas if I can, I am wondering how it is that I also think I have a right to that conversation with the singers after the first act, and the right to see how the second act stage is being set up. I love that part of the opera.  There were many interviews – not just with Nadir (Matthew Polenzani) and Zurga (Mariusz Kwiecien) but with Leila (Diana Damrau).

Gianandrea Noseda, the conductor, told us that when he opened the score and had looked at the first 3 pages he fell in love with the music and mined it for the pearls, the hidden pearls that are there. The mechanical apparatus that operated the pulleys from which the divers hung was shown and two of the people who are the divers were interviewed.

 A fabulous opera. Wonderful acting. A let down when the curtain has dropped and real life begins again – it is hard to match the colour and the sound of the opera in real life. As I was walking through the parking lot I heard an old man say to his partner, “The moral of the opera is do not profess undying love to anyone.” That made me laugh.


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