Last night I went to my first opera. My friend Serena's husband Ed is an opera singer, and they moved here because he got a job working with the Hannover opera. It's a much better deal to be an opera singer in Europe than in the US - you get a steady paycheck, health insurance, paid vacation, etc. And you get a chance at the big leagues. If opera were baseball, Ed would be playing AA here in Hannover, hoping to someday get called up to Berlin or Vienna or Paris.
So since he was able to get some free tickets to last night's show, Serena and our friend Renee and I went to see Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart. Every once in a while I have a moment when I say to myself, "wow, you live in Europe." Last night as we walked to the local opera house in the light snow, I had one of those moments. Then I noticed that my toes were numb and the moment passed.
Since I had little exposure to opera before yesterday, I kept thinking back to the movie Pretty Woman. Luckily Renee was doing the same. There's a scene where Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts to her first opera. As she puts on her fancy dress and long white gloves, she asks him something like "if it's all in Italian, how will I know what's going on?" and Richard Gere says, "don't worry, you'll just know."
Well, Richard Gere, you were wrong this time. I had no clue what was going on for most of the show. I was expecting scenery and costumes and props that could help me follow along in case I didn't understand the language. What I got was a dark stage with one leather couch and a cube in the middle that had string curtains hanging down on all sides. Later on in the show the cube would spin around. All the actors wore formal wear - suits and cocktail dresses. There was a little jazz piano played. There were some blindfolds that I am sure represented... something. And they spoke and sang in 18th century German. According to Serena, operas often have surtitles (opposite of subtitles) projected above the stage so that you can read the lyrics as the actors sing. Even written in German, that would have given me a fighting chance. There were no surtitles.
And the show didn't go too smoothly either. One of the main actors seemed to trip as he ran off the stage. Then they had intermission. After intermission, there was an announcement that (from what I could understand) the actor wasn't well and there would be an understudy for the second act. Afterward, Ed explained what really happened. The actor had run off the stage as planned through the string curtain. He parted the curtain, some of the strings were knotted together at the bottom. They caught him around the neck as he ran through (to use another sports analogy, he was clotheslined). He left in an ambulance and they called the intermission early to figure things out. For the rest of the show, another singer sang his part from the side of the stage, while someone else walked around on the stage in his costume but didn't speak or sing.
The female lead was about 7 months pregnant too, which wasn't so weird except the bad guy who was trying to seduce her was played by a woman. So the woman dressed as a man caressed the pregnant lady's baby belly while she sang soprano.
The singing, however, was beautiful. Ed seemed to do a fantastic job speaking all of his German dialogue. Considering he was on stage in front of actual Germans after only living here a few months, that was impressive. The orchestra played well and we had great seats. And now I have been to an opera, just like Julia Roberts. Just don't ask me what it was about.
- Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.