Saturday, October 8, 2016

Opera Questions

The Australian tenor Stuart Skelton as Tristan 
at the Metropolitan Opera.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
We decided to take a leaf from a method that Rebecca has used with her sons when she takes them to NT Live Performance.

She can ask them a question, or they can ask her a question. If she asks them a question and they give the right answer, she will give them $1. If they ask her a question and she can either give the answer, or is stumped, they still get $1, if they can confirm that they have the answer to the question that stumped her.

We decided to try this out with David. After the 5 ½ hour event, David wasn’t up to answering any questions, no matter what sum he would earn. After a good meal at home, and some discussion time, he was belting out the questions and earning cash. Bonnie joined him in the task of seeing who could ask the hardest questions. I don’t think that either of them understood that in this game, an easy question earns the same amount as a hard question.

1. At the end of the First Act, what are Isolde’s last words before being brought before King Marke?
(Answer: Must I live.)

2. What is a phrase that exemplifies the word love?
(Answer: Tristan und Isolde)

3. When Tristan was being helped back to good health, what did he tell Isolde that his name was?
(Answer: Tantris)

4. How many people fall to their knees in grief as they are singing?
(Answer: Tristan, Isolde, Kerwenal)

5. How many levels of balconies did we see at the Met?
(Answer: four)

6. Is it OK to boo instead of clap after a performance?
(Yes. Booing is a practice that started in Italy.)

7. Where did the myth of Tristan and Isolde come from?
(Answer: the 12th century. It predates Guinevere and Lancelot in the 14th century and Romeo and Juliet which came much later.)

8. How did Isolde know that Tristan had killed her betrothed?
(Answer: In a chip that is missing in Tristan’s sword she finds something she knew belonged to her betrothed.)  And a note to the reader:  David got picky on the answer to this question, for in the production we saw, it was not a sword that killed her beloved, but a gun.  We saw it with our very own eyes at the opera.

9. Whose score did the conductor look at when he was studying the music for this opera?
(Answer: He looked at the notes Gustav Mahler had made when he conducted Tristan and Isolde.)

10. Bonus point:  If you read any of the reviews before you went to the performance, give yourself a point.  And here is a review, if you don't want to go far:  Nina Stemme on a love and loss in Tristan

As I said, David hasn’t caught on that you get the same amount of money for asking and answering easy questions. Maybe he will practice that art at the next opera which is Don Giovanni and coming on October 20th.

See you at the opera.


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