Last night was my operatic debut. As part of my developing day-of-the-show ritual, I chose to drink too much coffee and fret for the entire day. It’s a work in progress.
Here’s my costume:
I kind of hated the hat – it made me look like a mushroom, and the other sailors laughed at me – but I was rockin the sailor facial hair, and had my character all worked out. Ladies, meet Anker Halvorsen from Bergen – married, a third generation Matrosen, skilled with a harpoon, and general all around bad ass. My wife thought I was cute, so mission accomplished.
I have, before this, heard only one Wagner opera front to back – the wife and I watched Die Walküre on the plane coming back from Frankfurt last spring, when this whole move to Germany thing was initially set in motion. I had just lost my gig in New Hampshire, everything was up in the air and we were considering all options, including selling our stuff, moving out of our apartment, being vagabonds, raising our level of commitment to our artistic endeavors, etc.
We lead a rather interesting life – I suppose it’s good the we think it’s interesting, although it may seem entirely unconventional and strange to most of the people around us. Watching a five hour Wagner opera on a transatlantic flight with no alcohol goes into either the interesting or unconventional categories, not sure, maybe both, but there we were.
So after the mammoth Walküre, Holländer is only my second Wagner, and it’s a much younger Wagner (only two and a half hours, which was performed keine pause [without intermission], btw.) As a complete work, it’s incredibly economical – the man gets the most out of, basically, four themes, and variations on them. Plus, my GAWD, the man had a f*cked sense of romance – Imma kill myself so I can spend eternity with the Capitan of the Ghost Ship (spoiler alert). Swoon, or something, but credit my wife for the “corpse bride” summary.
My last take (ok, probably not my last) on all this: I love quoting Beck. I love the way he puts words together and the sounds they make in combination with his rhythms. Particularly:
You can’t write if you can’t relate
Trade the cash for the beef for the body for the hate
And my time is a piece of wax fallin’ on a termite
who’s chokin’ on the splinters
I don’t know what the last three lines mean, but the first is always in my head. This opera chorus thing was proposed hand-in-hand with the added benefit of gaining an inside-out understanding of the medium, so as to inform my writing, especially as I transition into being better at writing for the stage. This is overwhelmingly true, and yet another thing they don’t teach you in school.
Anyway, I do it all again on Saturday. This was my last, fleeting look back at my premiere. Gotta swing at the first pitch, just like Nava.