To start this blog properly, I have to admit that I enjoy opera. Some would say that I am an “Opera Buff”. I have never figured out what a “Buff” is but, it doesn’t sound good. Certainly not masculine. To really be a”Buff” I believe someone would have to know a lot more about opera than I do. So, maybe, I am not a “Buff” after all. I have dragged my family to operas a number of times over the years. At times they have actually enjoyed them. It has been nearly a yearly event to go to the Met in New York City. Maybe it was the trip to the big bad city that my family enjoyed, not the opera. “Trip to the big bad city”, potential subject for a different blog; back to the point of this one. The Met periodically simulcasts performances live to theaters around the world. The Met calls these LiveHD. I have been intrigued by the idea of LiveHD but never attended until yesterday.
Tina and I are in South Carolina. Escaping some cold weather in Connecticut and overseeing some work being done to our place here. I happened to notice that the local theater was going to have LiveHD from the Met. A live performance of Rigoletto, how could I resist? I had never seen Rigoletto and wanted very much to see it; Rigoletto is one of the great Bel Canto operas. So, I used the theater ticket app on my phone, bought a ticket and Tina dropped me off at the theater. There were about twenty others in the audience. I was in familiar company, all grey-tops. The situation was great: I had a plush reclining seat, unobstructed view of the giant screen and a great sound system. There were some downsides: one individual clapped after every aria (that would be OK in the opera house but it was a bit much in a movie theater) and one guy’s phone started ringing as Gilda, Rigoletto’s daughter, was dying in his arms in the last scene (old guys like me are sometimes challenged by technology, I do not think the guy with the phone could figure how to turn it off; although he struggled to do so). Also, no place to get Champaign between acts.
The performance was wonderful; as one would expect it to be from the Met. The cost was less than $30 not $300+ a seat in New York. But, it was not the Met. It had more of a feel of a movie than a live performance. Close up shots were interesting but a bit off putting to me. There is nothing in the world like a live performance at the Met. There is truly something magic about being in New York City and getting the full effect of the performance.
There was something else about Rigoletto, something very personal. As I mentioned, I had not previously seen Rigoletto. And, unlike my admonition to everyone that goes to an opera, I did not read the libretto before I went. I truly wish I had; I will be reading it now for sure. For me, opera can bring out some real gut issues. Sometimes it is like looking into a mirror. And, like looking into a mirror there are things we see that we can do something about. I need to comb my hair or I need a shave or that mustache really looks silly. And there are some things that one cannot do anything about without a great deal of work. My nose isn’t right or my teeth are crooked. That is what it was like for me seeing Rigoletto. Rigoletto is about a guy and his relationship with his daughter, could have been a son as well. There are some things Rigoletto could and should have done differently. Then there is fate and the actions of others that he had no control over. Like life. Rigoletto was written in the middle of Verdi’s career. Unlike any other opera that Verdi wrote, he referred to Rigoletto as his opera. It must have been very personal to him. Perhaps Giuseppe and I have some things in common.
When I picked up Tina after the birth of our children I neglected to pick up the operating manual of how to maintain this creature that was secured in the approved and properly positioned safety seat. After all, when we picked up the dog we were given a list of instructions. Not so with a human child. How can someone be expected to raise to maturity the most complicated creature known to be in the universe without a book of instructions? I did make mistakes and, it is my prayer that I did little permanent damage. I take some delight in telling new parents that they will screw it up, we all do. Just keep doing the best you can. We all do the best we can. Rigoletto did what he thought was best for Gilda. Things did not work out so well for the court jester, Rigoletto.