Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Night At the Opera

by Maggie Sefton

Stage set for start of  "Madama Butterfly" at Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center in Vienna, VA

Last Friday I drove from my restful spot in the woods and a block from the Potomac River back to my old hometown of Arlington, Virginia, which is a mere stone's throw across the Potomac from Washington, DC.  I drove to my youngest daughter Maria's lovely condo apartment to stay the weekend before flying back to Colorado.

Maria and I had tickets for a performance of Puccini's opera, "Madama Butterfly" for Friday evening.  The performance was at the beautiful Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts, which is located in a gorgeous wooded section on National Park land near Vienna, Virginia.  "Madama Butterfly" is set in Japan in the mid-1800s.  And this production held true to the opera's Japanese setting and historical dress.

The singers were exceptional, of course.   And Puccini's music is glorious and is  familiar to everyone, even if they are not opera fans.  I grew up listening to opera on the radio on Saturdays because mymother loved opera.  And, believe me, you can't beat Grand Opera for drama, trauma, and melodrama.  Opera plots kill more people than we mystery authors manage to.  Lovers are separated, are reunited, only to be separated again, not to mention being poisoned, strangled, stabbed and stuffed in sacks.  All  accompanied by absolutely glorious music and singing.  Dramatic soprano heroines are feisty and fiery like Tosca  or sweet and delicate like the little seamstress Mimi  in "La Boheme" or saucy and taunting like Carmen.  Believe me, Grand Opera has something for everyone.  And the stories never get boring.  Too much is happening.  Even the idealistic and brave Chou Chou San in "Madama Burtterfly" keeps you watching her every move-----right to the end.  


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Maggie, for bringing two memories to mind. The first was listening to the opera on the radio on Saturday afternoons with my grandfather. I was the only one allowed to join him in the parlor because I would stay still and quiet the whole time even though I was six and seven years old. I adored my grandfather and sat on the floor at his feet. Grampa told me the story of the opera just before the program came on and then we would listen. It was more of a special time with him rather than the opera, though the operas stayed with me. I was delighted to see Carmen at the Metropolitan in NYC in my early twenties. I knew the story from a special Saturday afternoon. This is a great way to start my day. Thank you!
Zena Weldon

Maggie Sefton said...

Zena---What wonderful memories! I love stories like that. :) You know, there was something very special about hearing the stories on the radio rather than seeing them on TV like we would now. In a way it made the stories more dramatic because we used our imagination.

Aurian said...

Sounds like you had a great time Maggie! I did not grow up with anything classical, or art, and i never really learned to appreciate it. But I do love books and reading about all those classy/classic things :)

Anonymous said...

I agree, Maggie. Imagination. I could see the movements, the costumes, the colors, the props, the scenic backdrops...all created by me. Perhaps that was part of my becoming an artist - drawing and painting what was real with the embellishments of my imagination. It is probably a similar experience writing stories - you picture your characters and the unfolding of the story in your mind's eye. : ) Of course, the drawing, the painting, and/or the story has a way of twisting and turning which surprises the artist/writer too.