I am a self proclaimed culture vulture. There is nothing I love more than haunting an art gallery or giggling in the back row of the theatre. But there was a gaping hole in my cultural education, the behemoth that is opera.
Thankfully I live in the magical city of London, where if you book far enough in advance you can get a ticket to the opera for £10. So off I went to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to see Die Zauberflöte – also known as the Magic Flute in German. I picked this opera for two reasons, firstly because it is a simple fairy story (one that I could follow even in another language) and secondly because it was on and I’m not fussy.
I had such high hopes. The costumes were fantastic, the voices were mind blowing and there were surtitles* so I didn’t have to learn German in a hurry. But I hated it, I really did. I hated it to the extent that I only stayed till half time.
It was like a play, except with big awkward emotional pauses that just smooshed any subtlety right off the stage. It was like a musical except without any catchy tunes. It was like a classical concert except with annoying people singing over the orchestra. Opera just didn’t do anything better than other art forms, and was actually lesser then the sum of its parts.
But I think this might just be the particular opera I saw. In a more emotional, fantastical or dramatic opera I can see how all those little parts could add up to something amazing. So maybe there is potential there.
What pissed me off most of all, and what actually made me walk out, was how blatantly sexist the story was. Girl gets kidnapped, so mother finds a strange prince wandering in the forest and says he can marry the daughter if he could rescue her.
I know that is it the typical fairy tale, but it made me furious to see a girl’s life bartered away.
The opera, ruined by feminism.
*like subtitles, except above the stage.