Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Your Pop Culture Guide to the 2010 Season

With single tickets going on sale this Sunday, October 11, 2009 TODAY, for our Facebook, Twitter and Aria Serious fans we'd thought it might be fun to put together a popular culture guide to our 2010 season. Don’t know your bohème from your traviata, an aria from a tiara? We're here to help.

La bohème – Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. 100 years before the musical Rent, there was the opera La bohème, or “the bohemians”. It’s about poverty and love during the tuberculosis plague in Paris while Rent is about poverty and love during the height of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. Most of the characters have the same names, which goes to show there is nothing new under the sun. What makes the opera special is achingly beautiful music with soaring voices, and no electronic enhancement. It’s au natural. We think that’s worth the price of admission alone.

Nabucco – It’s Italian for Nebuchadnezzar (the Babylonian king, not the hovercraft in the Matrix trilogy) and we’re just thankful we get to use the shorter name. This one tells the story about the Jewish exile from Israel but it’s really about a daughter with some serious father issues. It’s Verdi’s third opera, which established him as one of the world’s greatest composer. Think of it as his Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and you’ll understand. In the end everything works out: the daughter finds the closure she needs and the Jews find freedom.

Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare’s most famous play with 100% more singing. You know this one already, but instead of lovers dying suddenly in each other’s arms, they sing a whole bunch then die in each other’s arms. Of the 24 or so operatic versions of Romeo and Juliet this one’s the best. Take the girlfriend; she’ll love you for it. Take the wife. Take them both.

La traviata - The title means “The Woman Who Strayed”. It’s about a hooker with a heart of gold. Yes, it’s the same stuff the movie Pretty Woman is based on which is why when they go to the opera in the movie they go to La traviata. Remember how moved she was? The big difference between the two is that La traviata is a tragedy. Even back then Verdi knew that a story about a hooker with a happy ending was just asking for trouble.

1 comment:

diora said...

It’s about a hooker with a heart of gold

French courtesans weren't exactly hookers. They didn't simply exchange sex for money with different guys. Rather, they were kept women who'd allow a rich or noble guy to provide her with a house, clothes, jewelry and money in exchange for companionship for as long as he is willing and able which could be months or even years. They were also educated. No different really from some rich guys' girlfriends or rich married guy's lover. Or maybe European equivalent of a Japanese geisha.

Some were quite famous - for their parties where rich and famous could mingle.

Really, is Madame de Pompadour closer to a prostitute or a simple mistress of a rich guy?

I understand that the purpose here to make the story more accessible, which is fine. Except for it is this mode of thinking that leads to some Eurotrash productions of La Traviata that changes the character of Violetta.