Sunday, October 25, 2009

SF Opera: "The Daughter of the Regiment"

One of my to-dos for life was to see an opera, a musical genre with which I'm not very familiar. This made it difficult to narrow one down, but this blog post by Will Kent gave great recommendations for the SF Opera's 2009-2010 season. Based on those, I decided to see "The Daughter of the Regiment" (the link has a video that compiles some excerpts of the performance). I also read that it was a comedy, so I thought that might be easier to understand for my first foray into opera.

photo by Cory Weaver, SF Opera website

The opera itself was fantastic; all the main singers were absolutely breathtaking, with my preference edging towards the two females, Diana Damrau and Meredith Arwady (whose complexities in voice are matched by the complexities of their characters). What surprised me was that despite the comedic plot and acting, I was still moved to tears by some of the music.

What I didn't love was the crowd, especially the lady sitting next to me. It was clear she had been to lots and lots of operas, and represents the opera fan that I was apprehensive about meeting. Some highlights:
  • Talking to the kid sitting behind us at intermission: "So how do you think this ends? Does it end sadly or happily?"
    Kid: "Well, it ends happily. I actually read the story before I came."
    Lady: "Yes, that's the different between a tragedy and a comedy; comedies end happily."

  • (After curtain rises after intermission, revealing a hilarious staging): [weary sigh] "I HATE it when people applaud for sets."

  • (After the opera ends, during applause, to woman sitting next to her): "She was good, but not as good as [some other soprano]."
Oh well. Some people just can't be happy unless they're making other people feel stupid. I'd like to go back and see "The Girl Of The Golden West" in June, which is also highly recommended. W and I are trying to gear ourselves up for The Ring of the Nibelung cycle by Richard Wagner in summer 2011; all four operas together are 15 hours over four days. Wonder what kind of endurance training we should do?

UPDATE: Here's the SFist's review of "The Daughter of the Regiment."

1 comment:

Molly said...

Same thing always happens to me at concerts. We somehow always end up right behind obnoxious people whose behavior is so distracting that I can't enjoy the music. Annoying. But going to an opera sounds so fun!