Saturday, April 28, 2007

What I Learned at the Opera

I didn't get a chance to write last night because we went to the opera -- Aida -- and it lasted for three hours. Not that we stayed that long; we left at intermission, but the 90 minutes we did see felt like three hours. So it exhausted me, the opera.

First of all, the stage at the Wortham is colossal, so large that when Amneris (the undesirable Egyptian princess) and Radames (the hot Egyptian stud) entered for the first time, I sat with my hands in my purse and thought, "Wow, they look like midgets!" When the chorus (Pharaoh’s court/army) entered soon after, I specified (to myself), "Maybe they ARE midgets." Instead of being bothered by how mini these people looked on stage, and it was deeply bothersome, I concluded that it was the POINT of opera to exemplify how we humans, even those of us who think we're larger than life, resemble mere specks on the universal stage. Midgets are giants, metaphorically. And humans? We're like the dust under the opera midgets' feet. After deciding to view the opera this way, I settled down and got into it.

Opera is the story of our lives, the story of our world, told in really loud voices, large gestures, garish costumes and vibratos. It's so over the top because it deserves to be -- many of the stories are monumentally tragic. Aida, for example. Radames is in love with a slave girl, the Ethiopian princess of the warring nation, who suffers Egyptian captivity and serves Amenris, who loves Radames. If you want a synopsis, please google it. Suffice it to say that Radames and Aida are enslaved by their love and suffer a gruesome death -- they're buried alive -- as a result.

Here are some things I learned last night by watching the opera AIDA:

Death Always Wins.
Death conquers Love.
Love Always Wins.
Love conquers Death.
Romantic love is always doomed.
The enemy provides the entertainment.
My purse is an absolute mess.
Ceremony fills the void.
The characters in the opera trust their author.
My vision is failing, but my hearing is compensating, as evidenced by my ability to hear the piece of candy clicking against the teeth of the guy sitting three people to the left of me.

Before the opera began, a voice told us to turn off our cell phones, and of course, I couldn't find mine because my purse is the size of a grocery bag and full of stuff. So I had to sit through the first act with my hands in my purse, making sure that if my cell phone did go off, I'd be able to silence it before Run DMC's "It's Tricky" broke the operatic illusion. With my hands in my purse, I became obsessed with my unaccounted-for cell phone, and the vision of "It's Tricky" interrupting AIDA reduced me to giggles. Then I remembered my hands imprisoned in my purse, and I felt ridiculous. So I removed them, taking the chance that my cell phone might ring. I dropped my purse to the floor and secretly wished it would.

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