Burger at The Opera

February 8, 2009

So, here’s a confession for you.

I went to the opera Saturday.

I had my doubts. I mean…opera? Women built like linebackers going off like tornado warnings? Men in tights? What had I gotten myself into?

But, I decided to be a good sport. What the hell, it was only a few hours. It couldn’t be any worse that staff meetings, if louder.

It was better than I expected.

Guys, operas are NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF. It’s true! The secret to watching operas is that they are really nothing but SOAP OPERAS, once you get past all the hollering and the fancy costumes. Yep. Think “All My Children” set to music. With swords.

Stay with me, here.

The opera was “Lucia di Lammermoor” a tragedy by Gaetano Donizetti. It was a live Metropolitan Opera production transmitted by modern electronics to a big screen at the local arts theater.

So an opera is just like real life, except they fancy it up all artful and sing it in Italian or German or something. (I once heard a clip from a Chinese opera, but the less said about that, the better.)

Lucia di Lammermoor is based on a book, which was itself based on a true story, set in the lowlands of Scotland. The opera gets a little complicated if you pay too much attention to the circumstance that the play is set in Scotland, is sung mostly by actors who are from Eastern Europe and whose names have no vowels to speak of, and they are singing in Italian. Those things are distractions, but don’t worry…the broadcast at the theater had captions in English, so those of us who don’t understand people yelling their heads off in Italian can figure out what the hell everybody is so excited about.

Here’s what it was about. It’s pretty simple, really.

Lucy falls in love with Edgar, despite the fact that their families really hate one another. Lucy’s brother Ernie is really p.o.’d because he wants Lucy to marry Arthur, some rich guy who can help Ernie climb the social ladder and help him out financially, because he’s broke. Ed packs up and goes out of town on business and Ernie shows Lucy a forged letter that said Ed’s found himself another gal to play house with. Ernie has also been grabbing the letters Ed and Lucy have been sending, so each thinks the other hasn’t been writing.

So, you see where this is going, right?

Ernie persuades Lucy to agree to marry Arthur, even though she really loves Ed, to save the family fortune. Suddenly Ed shows up, finds out Lucy’s about get hitched to Arthur, and gets all bent out of shape. He throws his engagement ring on the ground and stomps it, and calls her some names, but he does it in Italian, so it sounds poetic. He and Ernie vow to duel to the death the next morning in a graveyard, which seems efficient of them both. Then he rushes off in a snit.

Lucy, who is apparently a tad unstable, marries Art and goes upstairs for the whole “unflowering” thing. As soon as the door is closed, Lucy goes all tweaker on poor Art and flies into him with a dagger and perforates him to death.

Probably not the happy ending he had in mind.

Then she comes downstairs all bloody and out of her mind, which pretty much ruins the big party everybody else is having to celebrate the wedding. After singing for a bit about how much she loves Ed, she collapses and is carried upstairs, where she dies.

By this time Ed, back at his own digs waiting to fight Ernie, (who by this time, to his credit, is feeling pretty rotten about his behavior) pretty much wants to die anyway. Then some people run in and tell him what’s gone on with Lucy and that she is dead. Ed pulls his own dagger out of his boot and stabs himself, whereupon he lies on the stage singing for a pretty long time for a guy who is mortally wounded. Then Lucy’s ghost comes and kisses him and he shuts up at last.

See? And all this time you thought opera was fancy and high-toned. We read this stuff in the newspapers all the time, except nowadays folks mostly use firearms instead of daggers. Hell, put the actors in jeans and beat-up F-150s and Camaros, and set the thing at Wal-Mart. Have them sing in English, and you’ll be expecting Judge Judy to come out at any time and set things to rights.

© 2009 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.`
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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5 Responses to “Burger at The Opera”

  1. It’s a bit scary how surprisingly not scary they can be…

  2. Terrye Bretzke said

    Thrilled to hear that you gave the opera a try and reluctanty, but honestly, found it a pleasant surprise. The stories are almost always compelling, but alas, it’s the beauty of the music, the singing, the direction, the sets that brings the story to life and keeps one awake, in their seat and yearning to return.

    I hope your experience was one that will ensure a future visit and that sharing it compels some of your readers to take a chance on this often misunderstood art.

  3. judecowell said

    Excellent that you’re no longer an opera virgin, Terry!

    Glad you liked it since it makes for a more positive column…wonder if you would have told us if you’d hated it? ;p

  4. Terry said

    I originally wrote it as set in a trailer park, with everybody driving Camaros (the preferred vehicle of white trash everywhere,) but decided it didn’t fit with the tone I was intending.

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