I am definitely not among the opera cognoscenti, but I love going. The only operas I am very familiar with are the ones I have seen in the last few years. I am such an opera novice that I usually don’t even know the plots in advance, which makes watching them ever more exciting – wondering what will happen next. As a teen-ager, I listened to Lohengrin and Tristan und Isolde over and over when I was depressed and wanted to enhance my bad mood, and Die Zauberflote when I was cheery and wanted to enhance my good mood, but beyond those my opera knowledge was nearly nil. The only time I had heard Donizetti was in the otherwise supremely tedious film Fitzcarraldo. The delightful music in the movie made me anxious to hear more, lots more, but the opportunity just never arose. Soooooo….. finally the chance arrived. Certain aspects of the opera were a bit of a surprise. Most of the other operas we have seen have been filled with passion and lots of gloom and doom. The music and singing have likewise been passionate, gloomy, and doomy. This time, however there seemed to be a disconnect between great passion and tragedy of the story, and the sweetness and delicacy of the music. The mad scene aria was astonishing in its beauty, but Lucia just didn’t seem frighteningly mad. And the famous bloody dress, as a piece of forensic evidence, could have gotten Lucia off the hook in a murder trial. Although her hands were as incarnadine as those of Lady Macbeth, the dress looked as though she had must have just contaminated the evidence by walking through the bloody pool next to the body. The was absolutely none of that arterial spatter which our mystery novels have taught is requisite for conviction. Ghoul that I am, I was looking forward to the bloody dress, and was very let down.
At one point, Rebecca and I were confused as to what was going on and quizzed one another during intermission. She seemed astonished that I didn’t know. “Haven’t you read the book?” she asked. “I’m sure you have.” I assured her that I had not. “I know you have,” she insisted. I said, “I’ve read The Heart of the Midlothian. That’s Sir Walter Scott too.” “Oh,” she said. “I knew you had read The Something of the Something. I was wondering how the long walk was going to fit into this plot.” (The plot of The H of the M involves the heroine walking from Scotland to London to try to obtain a pardon from the queen for her sister, condemned to death for infanticide – of which, of course, she was not guilty, but was unable to prove her innocence. One of my very favorite books.) But of course, that is neither here nor there. What is here and there, is that we had a wonderful evening, and enjoyed the opera very much.