Ladies in beautiful, floor-length gowns and perfectly made up hair and faces. Gentlemen in tailored suit ’n ties and polished shoes. Men and women striding into an awe-inspiring, pearly white temple that is the Opera, excited to enjoy one of the genre’s best known pieces, the opera of opera’s: Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but… nothing like that happened.
This is the 21st century people. The dresscode at the opera is no longer your most exclusive evening wear nor do you have to arrive in a posh car – or in a horse carriage for that matter. So my sincere apologies for spoiling the picture, but I gotta be honest here.
Last Thursday night, I was so tired of a long week with a nice headache to top it off, that I decided to go to the Vlaamse Opera in jeans (and a decent blazer to keep up appearances). Besides, Don Giovanni lasts for 3 hours, so I wanted to feel comfortable. Actually, with all that’d been going on lately, I had forgotten that I was going to see an opera that evening until the evening before. We had booked our seats, like, 4 months or so ago, so it wasn’t that big of a surprise that I’d kinda spaced.
I have wanted to go to an opera for a long time and I wasn’t too happy about not feeling like going that particular night, but of course I went. We have read parts of the opera in Spanish class when we were studying Don Juan – which is the Spanish name of Don Giovanni – so I was happy to go see an Italian opera of which I knew the story. I was even happier when I found out there would be subtitles! You know, because it meant I might actually understand something of what the singers are talking about.
Mozart’s second ever opera was first staged in Prague in 1787. For those of you who are not that familiar with the story, I’ll give you a brief summary. At the beginning, Don Giovanni kills Donna Anna’s father, the Commendatore, in a sword fight. The reason? After having seduced the daughter the casanova had, as is to be expected, invoked the father’s wrath. Don Giovanni has to flee the house and Donna Anna makes Don Ottavio, her fiancée, swear to her to avenge her father. Don Giovanni is a true Don Juan, who says “his heart is so big and full of love it would be shameful and selfish not to share his love with other women”. I don’t wanna spoil any more things in this blog post, so I won’t tell you what happens throughout the story.
I didn’t like the opera, too my deepest regret. A few months ago, I went to see a ballet. I hadn’t set high expectations – even though the show was completely sold out – but i was blown away by the story, the dancers and the music. I wasn’t as captivated by the opera unfortunately. The mix of old and new elements and the constant repeating of the same, same, same sentences and the elongated storyline were almost to be called boring. It sounded and looked kinda messy to me as well.
There is no use of arguing about tastes. I like musicals more than I like operas and I guess that is all there is to it. But don’t let my experience scare you off. Hopefully you’ll have a better feel for this type of culture than I!
Have you ever been to an opera? How did you like it? Is going to the opera on your bucket list?