Sunday, December 21, 2008

Operatic distractions

I did two distinctly contradictory things yesterday.

Well, actually, I probably did more than two. I brushed my teeth AND THEN drank a disgusting, sickly sweet, mostly-milk chai latte that cost me four dollars. I woke up AND THEN immediately went back to sleep. I tripped over my cat AND THEN yelled in a festive holiday manner. I guess that last one isn't contradictory at all.

First thing I did was go to the opera. The Metropolitan Opera house in New York, which is basically the ONLY opera house if you know anything about opera and are a complete snob and I realize those two things are actually redundant, offers the occasional performance of a matinee show in assorted movie theatres in HD. Brilliant idea. The cameras swoop and dive in the gorgeous, opulent Metropolitan, showing the rows of seating, the backstage antics (at one point, a scene dresser shoved a swatch of desert into place and then unceremoniously said, "Shit" in front of the camera, and ran off), and, of course, the opera.

This time around was Massenet's Thais. The story of it is pretty simple: this wandering desert Christian dude with long dreadlocks regrets the evils of the world. He returns to his hometown, evil Alexandria, there to attempt converting its head hedonist, the prostitute Thais. He succeeds (which, according to the translated subtitles, was accomplished by him basically saying, "God is pretty awesome. You want some?" And she Gave Up Her Life Of Sin). He takes her to a convent in the desert. Then he realizes that he loves her. He returns to the convent where Thais, due to excessive fasting or flagellating or something else that people in convents do (other than lesbian sex) is dying. He implores her to realize that he was wrong, earthly love, sin, and sexual frolicking are better than Godly love, only she dies and goes right to Heaven.

Thais is in French. This made it hilarious for me, because I understood what they were saying even without the subtitles. I wondered for quite some time how it was that my French vocabulary has come to include words like "sin," "flesh," "lust," "destruction," and "shame." Then I realized that it probably comes from being stuck in a work program in France for three weeks in 1999, where the only available books were French Anne Rice novels. I should be glad I did not need further vocabulary from her novels ("pouting," "whining," and "prancing like a huge ponce," all come to mind).

Then, in the evening, my mom and I went to a Solstice celebration at the best yoga studio ever. I started doing yoga there in 1996; it was my first introduction to it, so now my archetypal yoga studio includes available mats, little eye pillows that smell of lavender, and gentle swoops of cheesecloth hanging fromt he ceiling. But the Solstice celebration was all about snacks and chanting and drumming and wandering around lighting candles. It couldn't have been more different fromt he expensive, traditional artistry fo the opera. But the little homespun drum circle and friendly faces, the dancing people in long skirts and cloaks, made it feel welcoming. It was a lovely way to pass a bitterly cold night. From now on, it only gets brighter and warmer.

1 comment:

MaggieMayDay said...

We wimped out on Solstice, stayed in the basement and got drunk. It was nice.