At this moment, I would probably fall on the side of pass rather than fail. And I want to be clear: any inclination toward failure would be my own inability to look beyond my expectations.  A Fabulous Friend of mine is all about some opera and performed this weekend in a spectacular one called La Traviata. I say spectacular because in many ways, it really was. The costumes were over-the-top fantastic. The talent was amazing. The vocal range of the principal soprano (heaven knows if I’ve got that phrasing right, but what I’m going for here is the female lead) was like none I’ve heard before. Dang.

Today I saw my very first Real Opera. As I’ve mentioned rather excessively in the past, I’m a huge fan of Soap Operas without being able to fully justify my love for them. The over-the-top aspect of Soap Operas reflect so much about the Real Opera I saw today… Fashion, Emotion, Undying love. There were so many things about the performance that truly rocked, as I mentioned above. There are two things I would have changed: I would have really loved to have been able to discern Fabulous Friend’s voice from among the chorus she sang in, because I know for a fact – girl can sing. She looked phenomenal on stage, though, and I’m sure she contributed solidly to the chorus. I’m very proud of her success and abilities.

And I had an entirely different expectation of the plot. I was expecting action and conflict and believable, relate-able characters. What I got wasn’t a disappointment by any stretch of the imagination; the musical aspects were above and beyond my expectations, as were the costumes. But I think I went into it with one idea of what the story would be like and sort of missed the point. I got distracted from the truly amazing music as I searched for a deep and complicated plot. Maybe it was the fact that the whole thing was in Italian (I guess? I suppose since it took place in Paris it could have been French, but either way I was way out of my comfort zone linguistically), but the subtitles that were displayed above the stage were a little … flowery and repetitive. Being something of a (written) story-teller, I was expecting something entirely different in the plot and lyrics department from what I got. And I think my expectations made me completely miss the point. Opera is all about the music. This being the case, Real Operas get a Grade A: PASS. I just need a few more operas under my belt to fully grasp what to look for in terms of plot. The other day I gave a nice long list describing the basic plot formula for a Soap Opera. I’m a Soap Opera expert. I know exactly what to expect every day. Perhaps that explains my full appreciation for Soap Opera as an art form.

This Operatic experience has given me a new insight to my beloved Soap genre. I now understand why Soap Operas are called Operas… over the top emotion that can’t really be justified and the audience really doesn’t care. They are too busy paying attention to ________. Fill in the blank. With Real Operas, the music overpowers the plot. In Soap Operas, the “hot” actors and actresses overpower any need for a smart plot-line. Or the ridiculous belief that a smart plot-line lurks somewhere just beyond tomorrow’s episode, which seems to be my particular distraction from the drivel I insist on watching daily…

Fabulous Friend, thank you for inviting me to this opera. I feel that I have been introduced to a new aspect of civilization and culture that I had no idea existed in Birmingham. I really wish I could explain better how La  Traviata made me feel… it was beautiful – visually and audially (oh, lands… there is no way that’s a real word, but you know what I mean… spell check suggests aurally, but that sounds snooty). And I may be entirely wrong about plot not being so important. Clearly, one Opera cannot fully define one’s opinion on the subject. So please, PLEASE invite me to see another, as I hope you will continue with this classy and cultured activity!!

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