O is for Opera or: Why I love Opera and dislike Wagner
Yes, I have to admit it, I love opera, even though most of my family does not. Opera has everything: costumes, dance, sets, orchestra, chorus, and wonderful music, with the magic of the human voice.
Richard Wagner, who wrote the Ring Cycle, a series of operas depicting old Norse legends, is very popular with opera afficionados. The operas are long, the music dramatic -- too long and too dramatic or dramatic in a very masculine way. I like romance, lovely lyrics, a credible story line and just the pleasure of being swept away by the music, as in Mozart, Rossini, Bizet and others.
So, how did I find myself in a local movie theater, which now shows opera live from the Metropolitan, watching and listening to Siegfried, the third opera in the Ring cycle? I thought my grandsons would like the "Lord of the Ring" aspect to the story with Siegfried, the dragon and all the characters. And I wanted to expose them to culture. And there we were, two grandsons, myself, and my poor husband, who dislikes opera but was there to show support and set a good example.
Remember we were in a movie theater, so the boys had to have popcorn and the one soft drink they are allowed every week, and we settled in. I had never seen any of the Ring cycle before and it did not take long for me to know that this was not a good idea. My husband had earplugs, and the boys had no idea what was going on, although I did try to tell them the story of the opera beforehand. In opera, there is a lot of standing and singing. In Wagner there is more of it. It is a very physical role, with the tenor on stage most of the time, and this opera is five hours long. One of my grandsons dropped his box of hard candies and they noisily clattered down towards front of the theater. Time to go, I thought. We stayed through the second act because I wanted them to see the dragon, but he was small and not very dramatic.
Oh well, I thought, I tried. My grandsons were very polite and thanked me and said they liked it. My son said, "Mom, it's OK. I think it's good for the boys to see things they might not choose to see on their own, just like you did for me."
As Mark Twain said, "Wagner's music is better than it sounds."