Operas, My Interpretation

So, this is what we did last night.  What a hoot.

2017.10.14 CavPag Event Banner







Editor’s note:  I wasn’t able to figure out how to get the spacing between the picture and my prose right.

Let me explain beginning with the fact that I have only attended one other opera, Aida, in my life.  I don’t speak Italian.  I’m a highly dubious person when going to this event because of the second fact, language issues.  Since we are in Gozo, and the operas have Italian sounding names…chances are they will be sung in Italian.  However, I am fond of following the old rule, “When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do”, I’m game for the opportunity.  But, I did not google the plot line of either opera.  Laziness?  Lack of curiosity?  The same reason I don’t read movie reviews?  I report, you decide.

Before the opera, which were scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., we suppered on the terrace of a restaurant that was down the street from the opera house.  Gozo is a small island, with few people.  The village of Gharb (spoken as Arb, with the Gh remaining silent), has 5 churches.  Big churches.   The capital of Gozo is Victoria with a population of about 10,000 people  They have managed to erect two opera houses.  Being a Catholic country, me thinks there is a co-mingling here of church and state.  How else could they afford all this?  Below is a picture of one of the churches.


But, I digress.

The restaurant had a terrace (terrazzo, I’m guessing) that afforded a view of the square below.  In the square, stood large green trees.  In those trees there must have been 5,000 birds all talking at once.  The clamor was amazing and somehow perfect.  I admit being a bit concerned that some of those birds might fly directly over the bamboo slatted “ceiling” we were sitting beneath.   Insofar that none of us wore hats, “Would they poop on us or our food?”, was a vivid concern in my mind.  (no, they did not).   Attending the opera with our dress-up clothes with bird poop in our hair, I’m am fairly certain would be frowned on.  I did feel as though the concern was legit.  (Mentioning this to the group seemed likely to be a mood swinger, so I refrained from doing so and just soldiered on).

Dinner was good and inexpensive.  Four cocktails before dinner, a bottle of wine, dinner for four and tip came to 100 euro.  And the birdsong was free.

On the way out our waiter snapped our pic.  Here we are.


From left to right, Greg, Nancy, moi, Teri.

So, off to the the opera we went.  Here’s a picture of the opera house inside.  As you can see the opera was well attended.  And everyone was in their finest duds. 


The opera started with the introduction of the maestro.  He looked like a cross between Danny DeVito and Gene Wilder!!  Then the curtain went up.  Oh, my.  So, much Italian.  What was happening?  The first opera (there were two because it was the 40th anniversary celebration) opened with a woman stage left setting the table.  Chianti bottles were placed on tablecloth she has spread out.  Glasses were placed.  I understood all that.  Then a waif appeared.  It took a long time of pensive looks and wondering around by the singers before a note was sung.  But then all hell broke loose.  Singing galore.  Men came on stage.  Some had “white grease paint faces”.  Why?  Don’t know.  A younger man, an older man (he had a Santa Claus body shape).  Most of the songs sounded like the singers were imploring each other for some reason.  The waif kept throwing herself on the floor.  Then lots of people came on stage and sang the only songs that didn’t sound emotionally desperate.  The mood in the theatre lightened.  But then the chorus faded away, and we were back to the begging, pleading mode when a woman in a red dress appeared.  I think she was a harlot.  The younger man seemed smitten.  Knives appeared, kettle drums were struck down in the orchestra pit.  The maestro at this point was really animated flailing away with his baton.  The lady in red vanished from the stage, the waif sang an aria.  The chorus returned and a priest was involved.  Did I mention that the waif was bearing a wooden cross on a neckless.  The cross was torn off and heaved to the ground after the non-singing bishop left the stage.  OH, my.  Then there was a scene with a little girl.  The waif seemed to be attached to the little girl, her daughter perhaps?  The little girl went away.  The younger man came back and appeared to argue with the waif.  A knife was branished.  The mother swept the floor.  The older guy came back.  He did an aria.  Then the stage was occupied by the woman who had set the table and I deduced she must be the mother of the younger man.  This is because the younger man sang out, “Mama!  Mama!”  This was the only time I understood any word the entire time.  The younger man is clearly vexed.  He runs off-stage with the knife.  Screams ensue from off stage.  The young man is carried back on stage, deader than a doornail.  People appear with long daggers, surround the man, presumably cutting the mortally wounded man some more.  And the curtain falls. 

At this point, I turn to Nancy and we burst out laughing as we clap along with the audience.  “What just happened?”, Nancy squeezes out between peals of laughter. 

That was the first play.

There was a 30 minute or so intermission.  Afraid there was only one toilet for women, I decided to stay in the box.  Did I mention that we were seated in a box?  Before you get impressed, let me state that very uncomfortable chairs (think kitchen chair style) were in the boxes.  And we were the box closest to the stage.  The problem with that was that I could only see half the stage.  Luckily it was stage left where much of the action took place.  Nancy and I were in a box with another couple.  They had the best two seats in our box in that they could see the entire stage without leaning in toward the railing which is what I had to do to see stage right. 


The photo above is Nancy in our box.

But, I digress. 

The maestro returned after the orchestra took their collective seats.  And with a swing of the baton, the curtain rose.  This play started with a “Fantasia” light show projected onto a screen whereby pictures of people were morphed into circular lines and back.  Then the screen rose.  There were clowns on stage.  Singing commenced.  A woman appears in a goofy looking outfit with knee high boots.  The mood is more jocular.  The songs were more uplifting.  The woman is not as good a singer as the waif from the previous production.  (I feel like I am becoming a good critic.)  She sings an aria.  Then the stage fills with circus activities.  Jugglers appear.  Acrobats perform somersaults, cartwheels, balancing acts.  An unicycle and it’s cyclist dart across the stage.  Everything seems happy. 

But then a young man appears.  Same opera star from the last play?  Not sure, but probably.  He does an aria while clinging a rag of a coat.  He is beseeching us about something.  The tune sounds familiar to me.  The audience likes his performance judging from the enthusiastic applause he received.  He exits the stage.  The chorus comes back as the screen comes down ever so slowing.  The screen has a bell ringing (up and down) projected onto the screen as the chorus sings, “Ding, Dong.”  (The only other words I recognized all night.)   It was an upbeat number.  Then the screen goes back up and the mood instantly goes down.  The songs get serious sounding with lots of chords using lots of flats.  Oboes kick in.  Flutes disappear.  At this point, a light from the other side of theatre shines directly into my eyes.  What the heck?  It is so annoying, I get up and stand behind the couple in our booth for quite some time.  That light turns off and I return to my kitchen chair for the duration.  While I’m standing, the costumed woman (I loved her dress of primary colors and white set off with red shoes) sets a table. Wine and glasses are placed.  Do all operas have tables that get set?  I don’t know.  Then she seems to hold court.  Then younger man number two comes by.  They seem to be in love.  They roll around on the stairs together singing at the top of their lungs while trying to appear intimate.  He leaves.  The older man comes by.  Knives start appearing.  Do all operas have daggers?  I don’t know.  The mood sours.  Another younger man enters stage right.  He is not happy.  The man that had left returns.  The kettle drums are engaged again.  Perhaps the cymbals clash.  The knives are bantered about.  The chorus reappears.  The mode lightens.  Bowling pins are juggled.  A woman jumps up on a man’s shoulders.  Circus time.  But suddenly, the chorus leaves.  Foreboding returns.  Arias are sung.  Daggers reappear and then the woman in the lively dress gets toss around by the other man, not her lover (actually the women in both operas get toss around the stage quite a bit and it bothers me, all this violence against women).  Her lover intercedes and he gets stabbed by the second young man.  Then the woman protests by attacking the killer, and the killer whacks her by slitting her throat. 

The curtain falls with the Santa body-shaped singer, standing at the front of the stage with hat in hand.  Why?  Don’t know.

And that was our night at the opera.   


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