Marriage of Figaro was an excellent opera. The best I've seen. I only saw one, but this has to be one of the better ones.
Musically I was very impressed. A scene would start as a solo, and mutate upwards, adding one singer at a time, until it was a sextet or more. It was sick. I found it incredible that someone, 220 years ago, could have straightened all that out in their head and come up with something that sounded coherent at all, let alone good.
When it started, my thought was: "Wow, I've heard this music a million times, but never knew what it was from." When the speaking began, I realized that I remembered this one from the movie Amadeus. Toward the end of Act 1 I noticed that the "fix" that was applied to the Salieri welcome march in the movie was actually lifted from this opera. In Act 3 I noticed the part that Andy Dufresne played over the prison loudspeaker in The Shawshank Redemption.
Red, played by Morgan Freeman, from that movie: "I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free."
The plot kinda sucked, and it wasn't as funny as a comedy should be. But that's not the metric by which it should be judged. After 220 years, being funny or watchable at all is an astonishing achievement. There were funny moments. It still came across as clever at times. And musically it was brilliant, as it likely will be seen for all time.
I'd recommend something shorter if you're not a big fan of music, though. At 4 hours, my date (or was I the date?) was falling asleep.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
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