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22 November 2004 @ 09:28 am
Tangerine Humvee  
Strange Visitor
Jessica's mom visited this weekend, which is always a mixed bag. We ended up getting to an argument about politics, which perhaps wasn't the wisest thing to do. It's the same old ditty: her generation doesn't understand why my generation is so critical of our own country, why we can't just accept what our leaders do. It's really sort of a silly persective, since her generation turned out in droves to protest the Vietnam war, and probably questioned the government more than mine. I think the misunderstanding comes from her difficulty in understanding that the President is not some personification of the nation, and that opposing his policies doesn't equal treason or even a lack of patriotism. In fact, I oppose President Bush because I love my country and don't want to see it irreparably screwed into a corporate-based hell on earth. Oh well.

Alas, Cherubino
We went to see Mozart's Marriage of Figaro yesterday, one of the most impressively convoluted, not to mention one of the funniest, operas ever written. The company used a modern set-design and some witty uses of costumes, including a hillarious Elmer Fudd reference. This is traditionally one of the stuffiest operas, due to the suggestive subject matter (sex) and the perhaps prudish opera scene that's existed for time immemorial, but yesterday's production was pretty racy, refusing to back down when the action got, ahem, heated.

I have two basic touchstones when evaluating an opera, criteria that have little to do with the subject matter or the performances. These are 1) nudity (male or female -- this is not a specifically voyeuristic or even sexual thing for me -- it's more a measure of daring and, well, I just love seeing the opera muck around with sleaze) and 2) Satan. Don Giovanni, for instance, earns major points for featuring Satan's silouette and his malignant cackle as the "hero" gets sucked into Hell. On the other hand, Salome, at least in some productions, calls for a creatively-lit, fully nude Salome to perform her famous dance for King David as well as giving a shout-out to the devil (he's mentioned a few times). Given this criteria, an opera showing Satan in full view as well as featuring characters in the nude would be considered operatic gold. In my opera-going experience, this standard of excellence has yet to be achieved.

Given this, Figaro had about a half-dozen mentions of Satan and no nudity. However, it did have some very suggestive costumes, surprising choreography choices (to put it tastefully) and a cross-dressing male soprano, which all told makes up for it somewhat. All in all, not the best, but not the worst either (poor Copellia and Don Quioxte have pitiful records on my scale that will likely never be equalled).

A Few Trades

I finally caught up on Robert Kirkman's Invincible series. Impressive stuff, starting out as a typical teen-with-superpowers story, with an endearing focus on the main character's relationship with his superpowered father. Then, in the middle of the second book, the story does a complete 360 degree turn, then an additional 180, leading the reader to question just what this series is about. Kirkman is ground-up creating his own universe, and though he references the DC universe extensively, he does a good job making it his own in a pretty definitive way (I won't spoil it). Simply put, the series is good fun and a compelling read, paced well, and with lots of interesting mysteries. I'm not as die hard about it as I am about Kirkman's zombie epic The Walking Dead, but I'm definitely a fan. The third book is currently in Alvin's (my morally suspect comic book vendor) file cabinet awaiting my eager hands.
Current Mood: thirstythirsty
Current Music: Papas Fritas - Buildings and Grounds
- - - lydia: pout -- ibdreamylydialicious on November 22nd, 2004 04:34 pm (UTC)
I've seen a few operas, and I've never seen one with any nudity or Satans. I feel like I'm missing out! Perhaps it's because I only ever really see opera at the Royal Opera House, and they tend to be rather more conservative in their performances.
kinbotespkinbote on November 22nd, 2004 04:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we have the fortune of having a fairly unconventional opera company here in Pittsburgh. We still get our share of finely produced operas performed in the traditional style, but every season tends to feature a few modern takes on the classics that usually turn out pretty interestingly.

The same can't really be said about our ballet company, unfortunately, whose "modern" efforts usually fall flat. They have great dancers, but there isn't a lot of variety. They show 'Dracula' pretty much every year, which I don't want to see again. And they have a tendency to pick some suspect pieces to perform (not sure what serious ballet fan wants to see a show based on the works of Bruce Springsteen). And god, the Don Quixote ballet is the most wrongheaded thing I've ever seen.