It is only recently that I have been able to find a way of
staying awake through relating to and understanding opera. The epiphany occurred at Nationals Stadium while taking in Opera in the Outfield with a mild buzz on. Decades earlier in New York, the warhorses of the canon rode roughshod over me – I remember something about a dwarf with a magic ring, a hunchback with a beautiful daughter and an endless baffling warble about a rose knight that had myself and each of my two companions contentedly napping in shifts. But once I realized that it was all about the overwrought doings of a humanoid-like race of Opera Beings, it began to make a certain kind of sense.
My mistake had been to think of opera as theater with music. As such, it was a poor kind of theater endlessly interrupted by vast stretches of song that advanced the plot at a glacial pace. But once you recognize that you are not dealing with the tales and woes of ordinary human beings but the travails and triumphs of a different and somewhat childlike species, you find that you can begin to understand them on their own terms.
This is what I’ve learned so far. While Opera Beings look like us, they tend to be quite a bit larger (though this difference is no longer so pronounced). They do not talk much, and they are governed by their passions and emotions. When disturbed or excited, they break into song and are capable of impressive tonal feats. They are not much for reason, deliberation or cooperation, and their favored modes of action are seduction, betrayal and deceit. They are impulsive and will heedlessly pursue a course of action without regard for its foreseeable consequences. The exaltation of suffering bewitches them, and they are often majestic in remorse.
This evening we venture to the Kennedy Center to learn more about these fabulous beings. It is an odd fact that their world may on occasion appear as a leitmotif of our own. Common tales that we are familiar with from books or the stage may sometimes be apprehended within the sonic landscape of the Opera Beings. Tonight we shall hear of the unfathomable doings of a great white whale and its implacable pursuer. Let us attend rapturously.
and ours may on occasion exhibit a surprising similarity. Common tales that we have read or seen on the stage sometimes appear in Opera World