Dancing does–and always will–have the most prominent place in my heart when it comes to the arts. However, there are two other arts that hold an extremely close second: singing and acting. These two arts, hands down, were performed in the best way that they could ever be performed, ever. What am I referring to? Where else than the opera?
Truthfully, I was extremely nervous going to my first opera. I don’t know why. I just was. Maybe I just felt too low-class for opera, or something. Eh, what does it matter now?
The opera I saw was La Traviata by Verdi. It was sung in Italian with English subtitles. I could write a long, philosophical post on the opera, and what I believed I learned from it, but I’d rather not. I’ll save the philosophy for when I start working on my minor. Instead, I’d rather focus on my knee-jerk reactions to the opera to add some spontaneous flair Most of them are my thoughts. As I said before, I was extremely nervous, so my thoughts are a bit random. The play was divided into four acts with an intermission after the first and third act.
Before the Show…
“So nervous, so nervous! Wait, why the heck am I anxious? I’m here to watch the show not participate in it. Did I dress okay? I feel under-dressed… Hey, did I just see a T-shirt booth? Wait, they wouldn’t sell T-shirts at an opera. Stupid, stupid. Man, is this theater huge! Whoa, they serve food here, too? Focus! Focus! Calm down, way down. Even if you are inexplicably nervous, that doesn’t mean you should show it. Act like a lady, a really dignified, lady. No, make that a British lady at High Tea. Yes, remember your British school days. I just wanna get to our seats…”
[chorus rushes onstage for opening act]
“Wow, how the heck did they squeeze all those people on that stage?! I’m not claustrophobic in a crowded elevator, but I probably would be here. Kudos to all the actors and actresses for this.”
[first movement of music ends, but a select few clap anyway to a largely silent auditorium]
“Ooh, that’s awkward…”
“Oh. my. goodness. Her voice! Those notes! Man, I wish I could sing like that! It’s like I’m being impaled by musical notes, in a good way!”
[first act comes to a close after what seemed like only twenty minutes]
Wow, that was short. Oh, wait. Four acts and two intermissions… Of course they have to be shorter. There’s my stupid moment for the day *mentally checks that off checklist*.
“Man this is amazing! *suddenly looks to ceiling* Check out the striations and undulations in the ceiling. I wonder how this helps the acoustics? *Mind wanders in search of scientific explanation*
[Curtain rises with Alfredo and Violetta locked in passionate kiss]
Me: Heh, nothing like a big stage smooch to get the audience going! Still, never thought they’d be that reactive. Hmm, then again, it is opera… *mind wanders*
[Whilst listening to Alfredo singing about his love for Violetta]
“Oh my gosh! I think I’m going to swoon… *Pulls self together* And people think French is the language of love. Psh, give me an Italian singer over a French lover any day. So…beautiful… I want a guy to love me like that… Whoa, snap out of it! This isn’t the time for girlish day-dreaming. This is the time to focus on what’s going on in the story. Silly, daydreams.” *mind wanders against will towards favorite Italian poet and crush*
[Alfredo’s, father, Giorgio, enters stage, tells Violetta to break-up with son, Violetta sings about how it will doom her]
“It always works. Be it in Romeo and Juliet, or here, forbidden love never fails to tug at the heart-strings *cue mental sigh*. Gah, curse my incurable romanticism (read: not really)!”
[Cellphone goes off for about three rings, then silenced]
“! Really? Just, really? This is the most amazing thing I’ve seen in a really long time, and you forgot to silence your dang cell phone? Tell me, did the initial announcement to silence your cellphones at the beginning fall on deaf ears? Oh, and did you not hear the dignified, disembodied, English voice tell you at the beginning of this act to silence your phone? There goes my willing suspension of disbelief because I am in absolute disbelief that your stinkin’ (for lack of a better word) cell phone go off!”
“Man, things are really getting hotter in here! It’s too bad Alfredo doesn’t know that Violetta gave him up because she actually loved him, but that’s dramatic irony for you. Ah, dramatic irony, the linchpin of tragedy!”
[Alfredo verbally insults Violetta in front of the whole company]
*Shocked, intense, indignant, feminine reaction at this insult that for the sanity of the reader will not be re-iterated*
[Cellphone alarm goes off]
[Act III ends with symbol of Violetta’s impending doom onstage, a paler version of her with a flower]
“No, no, no! Don’t die! Please, don’t die! What will Alfredo do without you? Oh, dear, it’s really happening…. *begins mentally whimpering*”
(At this point, the dominant, rational part of me has been completely annihilated, and my current emotional and mental state has gone to hell in a hand-basket.)
*Desperately tries to pull self together, but fails*
This should be obvious. It’s the famous part where a person/people die leaving their surviving loved ones in great despair. Try as I might, my emotional insides have dissolved into mush and I am inwardly weeping. It’s much more painful than physically weeping, and much more cathartic for me personally. Those that know me, will testify that dramatic performance, musicals, or movies almost never make me cry physically. What they don’t know is that my insides are being brutally torn out, and my heart, in that moment, is weeping blood. In all honesty, being vulnerable in any way is very hard for me. Hence, why I never physically cry during such things. My rational side prevents me from doing so.
But, what I so adore about the theater is the fact that it forces me to weep, albeit inwardly. The cathartic experience is a tonic for me. The tonic tastes absolutely awful, but it cleanses and refreshes my weary emotional state. I feel quite blessed to be a part of such an experience, and can guarantee that opera now holds that close second place in my heart.