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No snorting at the opera, either -or- I want to grow a mustache so I can use that pickup line

by Theo on September 29th, 2011
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I can’t believe I haven’t posted here in almost a month. I can’t believe it’s still September. Between working a dayjob on a college campus and going back to school after a year off, my September has felt like a sucking void of Too Much To Do and Not Enough Time. But some awesome things have happened, too, one of which I’m going to show you now.

Last week, I got a chance to see a dress rehearsal of the Minnesota Opera’s latest show, Così fan tutte. If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you might remember my post on a similar event last February. Both times were loads of fun – they treated us to dinner, gave us fantastic seats, and asked us to sketch the show by book light. This time, I enjoyed the performance a bit more than last. Così fan tutte is basically a romantic comedy by Mozart, and several parts of it are laugh out loud funny.

The general premise is: a jaded old philosopher runs into two young men who are in love with a pair of sisters. The philosopher tries to convince them that women are flighty and will cheat on them. The men are like, “Nuh-uh,” and the philosopher is like, “Yuh-huh!” (only more eloquently and in Italian verse), and the philosopher challenges them to a bet. The men will pretend to leave for war, come back disguised as Albanians, and woo each other’s lady. If they succeed, the philosopher wins and they owe him money; if their girlfriends are faithful, the philosopher owes them. They carry through on the bet, and their poor girlfriends have to put up with being chased all over the stage by two complete hams wearing fake mustaches and turbans. Like so:

Best line in the show.

Meanwhile, the philosopher stands around in the background like this:

He plays puppet master in the destruction of these near-strangers’ relationships to amuse himself, which makes him my favorite kind of fictional bastard. The villainous characters were my favorite characters in this show. The philosopher teamed up with the sisters’ maid, Despina, to help trick them, and Despina was fabulous. She encouraged the sisters to “have a little fun” while their boyfriends were at war and showed up in hilarious costumes to aid in the realism of the charade – most notably a quack doctor who saved the two “Albanians” after they pretended to poison themselves because of the sisters’ rejection.

I felt for Despina, I really did. The first scene we see her in, she’s bringing the sisters their breakfast and then cleaning up after them when they throw bread all over the floor during a lovesick tantrum. I think if I had to pick up after some rich girls’ bread tantrum, I’d jump at the offer to mess with them, too.

The bread thrower in a less tantrumy moment:

And last, a rough sketch of the first scene where the men appear dressed in costume. Whenever they’re not waltzing about the stage with their arms flung wide, trying to impress each other’s girlfriends, they’re off in a corner fixing each other’s fake mustaches.

I wanted to slap their characters for the stupidity, but these two actors were marvelous. Their first appearance, their “death” scene, their courting scenes – it was all brilliant. They once made me laugh so hard I snorted. Loudly. It was an undignified noise unsuited to the opera, perhaps, but I couldn’t help it. The plumes of love got me.
So: Minnesota Opera? Excellent company. They treat their guests very well and put on a fantastic show. It looks like they’ve got a great season lined up, so go check it out.
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From → Art, Doodles, Opera rules

One Comment
  1. 'Lista permalink

    You make me want to go see an opera. And that’s saying something. I’ve always subscribed to Groucho Marx’s summary of such things! “Once more around the block, driver, and SLOWLY! Thanks to you, I nearly saw the opera!”

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