It’s kind of an oddity these days to be a twenty-something year old opera lover, but I confess: I just really, really love opera. It has become one of my sneaky little tricks to get my parents tickets for their birthdays/mother’s day/father’s day; sneaky because I get to go too, but it is legitimately nice to go together. Last year I took Dad to Madama Butterfly, Mum to Don Giovanni, and Nathan to The Marriage of Figaro. This year, it’s La Bohème and The Pearlfishers. So far.
I chose La Bohème for Mum, because I thought she would love the Moulin Rouge-esque staging and the grand romance of it all, and to mix things up a bit after seeing a Mozart opera last time. Half naked ladies dripping with jewels was certainly a departure from the austere monochromatic production of Don Giovanni we saw last year. It was so emotional, we both cried during the final act. Poor Mimi! My inner feminist always gets riled up by these hopelessly misogynistic opera plots (all products of their context, of course) – hero loves the heroine because she is spirited, they get together and the hero will immediately try to squash her spirit out of jealousy and fear that she might attract another man, or he runs around cheating on her or neglects her entirely, then she dies of consumption or kills herself, the end. So many operatic heroines serve mainly as a symbolic sacrifice, a passive subject with a moralistic function to teach a lesson about the cruelty of masculinity. And I will take off my literary studies hat now…
The Pearlfishers was for Dad – because he loved the temple duet so much. We had both seen this opera before, on what was actually my very first night at the opera. It was wonderful to see it again, especially since all the music is so much more familiar now after much repeat listening. One thing I noticed was that there seemed to be so much more dramatic intensity this time round. Maybe the last production just seems politer in my memory, but the acting was extremely passionate this time – I have the greatest love for tragic endings, and this production had no shortage of tragedy.
Now, I just have to wait and see what’s on later in the year – I’m dying to go to an opening night, just as an excuse to wear an evening gown. It’s not uncommon to see women in vintage fur coats, dresses with trailing trains, and even wearing tiaras. There are so few opportunities to really dress up these days, I’d have to do it, even if it was just once.