I get it. You have some preconceived notion of the Opera being stuffy and boring and something that only rich people do after a diet of caviar and foie gras and a glass full of the desalinated tears of poor people. If you have any positive associations with it, those associations are related to Bugs Bunny (“Kill the Wabbit!”) or Nicholas Cage trying to woo Cher in “Moonstruck.”
I love the Opera. Hear me out.
The Opera is decidedly NOT stuffy. The plots have more to do with soap operas and Hallmark Channel movies than Jane Austen novels. People die, by suicide or murder, and rarely of natural causes. There are duplicitous villains, cheating lovers, and passionate romance. Sometimes there is even paranormal romance.
But, you say. Screechy sopranos! Subtitles like in incomprehensible foreign films! Bearded fat men pretending to be youthful studs!
Ok, ok. Some sopranos screech. There are subtitles. There are bearded fat men pretending to be youthful studs. But really – is that any worse than 30 year olds being cast to play high school students in 21 Jump Street?
Plus, you get to dress up fancy. If you are old enough not to go to proms or sorority formals anymore, odds are good you don’t have too many opportunities to wear sparkly clothing. Men actually wear tuxedos to the opera. Women wear sequined gowns and updos. Ever wanted to pretend you were an extra on Downton Abbey? The Opera is your chance. (If you don’t have a fancy evening gown, do what I did and go to Ross and get one for 30 bucks off the clearance rack.) (If you don’t own a tuxedo, wear a suit. If you don’t own a suit, and won’t even go to Goodwill to get one, I can’t help you.)
Despite the fancy clothes and the mother-of-pear opera glasses (yes, people actually do use those from time to time) this isn’t the sort of thing that you watch with your posture perfect and then make a soundless golf-clap at the end. You root for the hero, for the lovers, for the vanquishing of foes. At the end, you can stand on your feet and hoot and holler as much as you want.
It’s a THING, it’s an EVENT, and you will find yourself humming a tune as you leave. This upcoming year (2018) the Atlanta Opera is doing, among other things, Carmen and Sweeney Todd. Carmen is an opera by George Bizet, about, to put it in slang terms that even today’s teenagers will relate to, a two-timing ‘ho who dresses and acts like a hootchie, scandalizing everyone. You know some of the songs, I know you do, especially the “Toreador” song. Sweeney Todd is so relatable it was actually made into a movie starring Johnny Depp. (But please, don’t judge the opera based on Johnny Depp’s and Helena Bonham Carter’s ability to sing.) Sweeney Todd is dark – it’s about love and revenge and kidnapping and class warfare and involves countless murders and throat slashings. It’s also hilarious, if your sense of humor, like mine, is a little off.
I have season tickets, and I’ll be at all the performances, up in the cheap seats, which are remarkably cheap considering the quality of the performance. Come see me. I’ll be one of the many wearing a sparkly dress and impractical shoes and cheering like I’m at a basketball game.
p.s. Extra bonus points to anyone who saw the title of this article and immediately thought “The Marx Brothers!”
If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori on Twitter or on Facebook. Lori is the Readers Favorite and eLit award winner for her latest release, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.” She is also the author of the bestselling books “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,” and “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket.”