Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
I’ve found that when I speak to friends or strangers on street corners about opera, their eyes glaze over (actually it might not be just opera). I see this as a fundamental lack of understanding on their part, rather than any tediousness on my part. The road to opera should not be paved with jagged rocks. It should be an easy ride, a gentle ride.
Opera is really not that difficult. Pretty much every opera goes something like this: The Tenor loves the Soprano. The Soprano loves the Tenor. Should be easy – a couple of arias and they live happily ever after. But the Baritone also loves the Soprano. Here come the drama, here come the drama. The Soprano’s daddy, a Bass, promises her to the Baritone – it’s never clear why; it just seems that daddies are not keen on Tenors. Of course, everyone on stage (except maybe the chorus) is now heartbroken, angry or lustful. They sing of their sadness, anger and lust, and Act One ends.
Act Two is all about mistaken identities. To have a secret rendezvous with the Soprano, our Tenor will pretend to be her uncle, another Bass. Because she suspects the Tenor of being unfaithful with a Mezzo-soprano, the Soprano will pretend to be her own sister and attempt to seduce him. The Baritone will pretend to be a vagabond and attempt to seduce the chorus. The audience will pretend to know what’s going on, except for a guy in the fifth row who will attempt to seduce the stranger next to him.
In Act Three, everyone is revealed for who he or she really is. The old Bass is subject to ridicule, and the Baritone is banished. The Tenor and Soprano consummate their love in the opera’s signature aria. Then they die. That’s pretty much it – unless it’s Wagner, in which case, you have valkyries and giants and dwarves, and pretty much everyone wears horns and marches off to Valhalla..
Here are the plots of a few popular operas to illustrate:
Carmen – A passionate gypsy seduces a young soldier, tosses him aside for a matador, then she dies.
Madame Butterfly – An American naval officer seduces an innocent Japanese geisha. She has his kid. He dumps her. She dies.
La Boheme – Young bohemians fall in love. He’s a poet; she has tuberculosis. They enjoy Paris. She dies.
Rigoletto – A nasty nobleman seduces his hunchbacked jester’s innocent daughter. The jester tries to get even. She dies.
So you see, it’s really just gratuitous sex and violence with beautiful music. And that’s still rock and roll to me.