Saturday, September 25, 2010

Opera Cleveland: Bizet's The Pearl Fishers

Before this evening's opera, I attended a Happy Hour at the House of Blues Cleveland's Foundation Room -- while relatively short--at just over a true clock hour--it was another interesting event with good conversation. The host for the event mentioned walking, and leaving HOB I realized that I would have both felt more comfortable about drinking (limiting myself to one glass of white) and saved $5 on parking at East 4th if I had parked in Playhouse Square's garage and walked to/from the HOB... anyway...

After relocating my car I downed a cupcake in the State Theatre's lobby (Cursing fate: The one time I was really craving a pretzel for 'dinner' they were not to be found) and entered for Opera Cleveland's presentation of Georges Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.

I've said before that Opera is an art form that challenges me. Tonight I must admit defeat in response to its challenge. The music was beautifully played, the libretto beautifully sung, and the set was a a fantastic blend of minimal but eye catching physical props with tastefully (not over) done multimedia. The show received one of the more enthusiastic applauses I can recall from an operatic performance.

But it wasn't for me. Perhaps the length -- the program lists the running time as 2:30 including two 2o-minute intermissions: If that was accurate and allowing for the customary 5-minute hold, the 3rd act would have been approximately 10 minutes. It was not. Perhaps the foreign language: Again, the placement of the surtitles in relation to the set makes it impossible to follow both action and plot at the same time-- even reading the synopsis, I'm not entirely sure what I saw, heard, and listened to so beautifully.

But whatever it was I found myself entirely unmoved: Though I stayed through the curtain call, I felt no compulsion to linger.

In the vein of "history is taught in a vacuum" seeing the premiere date -- September 30, 1863 -- perhaps in conjunction with the trivia note in the program that John Wilkes Booth's appeared in a Cleveland venue just prior to the assassination of my namesake was in Cleveland -- fell in the middle of the American Civil War. Not that that's of iny significance, it's just an interesting point to ponder.


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