Two Nights At the Opera
What a thrill to be back at the Santa Fe Opera. I’ve really missed live music during the pandemic.
So—what did we see? Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I saw several of his operas on video, and acquired some taste for his music. It is also hard to beat that libretto, being as it is Shakespeare. The staging was fun and circus-y, with a trampoline and more. Masking is the issue of the day. But it bothered me to see Oberon sometimes in an ass’s mask. Or to see Tytania (as Britten spells it) not forgive him immediately for enchanting her. Maybe an attempted feminist take, but hey, isn’t he the King of the Fairies? Tricky, domineering, amoral? Let’s leave him that way.
Choruses mostly offstage, which worked nicely, with a kind of haunting quality. A friend who doesn’t love opera said—two sounds like too much! Well, the second was Eugene Onegin, which is always too much. And kind of like a Cliff Notes 19th century Russian novel. But who can resist Tchaikovsky? Who would want to? My eyes closed gently and I was adrift in a ballet of romantic feeling.
Rich was disappointed in the party scenes. The masking was odd, blank gauze effect that seemed more like a Japanese buto performance than waltzing at a ball. But the lighting and scenery were gorgeous, suffused in golden hues, with birch trees encroaching on chandeliers.
I think if you asked my four grandparents why they’d come to America—fleeing Cossacks, pogroms, poverty, and anti-Semitism—they might have admitted: ”So you could go to the opera, Miriam.” They all loved opera, both the wealthy, successful set and the left-wing, working-class pair.
When I go, I think of them: the love of classical music, pageantry, culture. A yearning for emotional expression they may have lacked in their own lives. A sense of citizenship in the world.
Thanks to them, I’m not an outsider, or a refugee. I have a ticket, and I enter the gate. Sit in my seat, and wait to be transported.
moon rising fast
over the mountain
the crowd applauds