My wife always complains we don’t do enough things to expand our cultural awareness. Somehow she does not consider The Big Bang Theory enough of an expansion – I keep telling her she’d learn some interesting factoids about particle physics if she just listened to a few Sheldon Cooper rants. Her needling me about my lack of cultural curiosity offends me deeply because I’m an extremely sophisticated, erudite person. As proof, I would point out my usage of the word “erudite” in the previous sentence (which I found on a Google search of obscure, smart-sounding words).
Last summer, my wife and I went to one of those fancy pants, highbrow movie theaters where we saw a Danish film with English sub-titles. Not trying to brag, but I made it almost two thirds of the way through. I even went to a snobby, avant-garde modern art gallery opening once for an exhibit that turned out to be a collection of wooden furniture covered in thousands of nails (I’m not making this up, I swear).
I can endure boring, elitist, over-priced entertainment as well as the next beaten down husband. I’ve gone to the ballet. I’ve stayed awake through several Shakespeare plays – and had a vague idea of who the bad guys were in a couple of them. I even survived a modern dance recital my wife roped me into in which each dancer represented a different vegetable. (I’m pretty sure the guy in the green leotards was a zucchini, but he might have been a cucumber.)
So, don’t tell me I’m not willing to expand my artistic horizons. But every man has a line he won’t cross. And for me, that line is OPERA – that is, until last night, when my wife told me, “Turn off CSI Miami. We’re going to the opera tonight.” Fortunately, I was already wearing my dress shorts.
For you fellows out there, if your wife ever tells you she wants to go to the opera, I strongly suggest you quickly whack your thumb with a hammer so hard your nail falls off so you have to go to the ER. Trust me, that will be far more pleasurable than the 3 hours and 45 minutes I endured last night. But if you can’t get out of going, be sure to bring a comfy pillow, a warm blanket, and perhaps a Teddy Bear, because there’s no way you’ll stay awake past ACT I.
We went to see Carmen, an opera about a gypsy woman – I’m guessing named Carmen, but that’s just a guess – with whom all the men fell in love. The entire opera was sung in French, so I had no idea what was going on. Fortunately, they had a screen above the stage which displayed sub-titles. Unfortunately, all the sub-titles were in Italian.
According to the program, here’s the basic plotline:
ACT I: Boy (Don Jose) falls in love with girl (Carmen).
ACT II: Girl falls in love with boy.
ACT III: Girl falls in love with another boy.
ACT IV: First boy gets jealous and kills girl. – THE END.
Total duration of the four-act opera: An eternity.
I tried extremely hard to concentrate and stay awake, using every means at my disposal – sitting upright, setting a wake-up alarm on my phone for every fifteen minutes, downing a six-pack of Red Bull, applying tooth picks to prop my eyelids open. People having trouble sleeping at night should seriously consider season’s tickets to the opera. They’ll be sleeping like a hibernating bear before the end of the second aria.
Despite being as cultured as I am, I just don’t get opera’s appeal. First, you can’t understand a word they’re saying up there. Second, they never stop singing – ever! Even when the translation reads Good morning, Jose. Are you hungry?, the players on stage feel a need to sing about it – in loud, boisterous voices.
Now I’m not the suspicious type – although I still think the moon landing was faked – but it seems to me the sub-titles are leaving out part of what they’re saying. For example, in one part Don Jose sang:
Pourquoi tu ne m’aimes plus? Est-il mes vêtements? Est-il sur la façon dont je me peigne les cheveux? Est-il quelque chose que j’ai dit? As-tu un problème avec les hommes? Quel est ton problème? Tu sais, tu es une femme tout de même. Je te laisse à jamais. À moins que tu me fais le petit déjeuner.
But the sub-titles read, “Why won’t you love me?” I’m not a rocket scientist, but something tells me we’re not getting the whole story here.
Frankly, I was more than a little disappointed by my maiden voyage into the world of opera. I waited for 3 hours and 45 minutes for the fat lady in the Viking helmet to sing, but she never showed up. Such a letdown. I’ve decided that I’m NEVER going to the opera ever again – unless it’s on Bobblehead Night. Then, maybe I’ll give it one more try.
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