An Afternoon at the Opera

Super Agent Fred and I went Sunday afternoon to Philip Glass’s opera Orphee. It seemed like a good idea at the time; I love Philip Glass’s weird little neener-neener-neener music and the opera was based on Jean Cocteau’s film, of which I am one big gay fan.

We settled in and I was trying to listen to the Glassian melodic noodling, but there was this ongoing, annoying noise interrrupting my concentration. I finally realized it was the singing. The whole thing was a “word for word re-enactment of the movie.” Again, probably a good seeming idea, but it meant all the singing was actually recitative, which I hate because I’m shallow, and no arias, which are the parts I love because I was raised on operas performed in Bugs Bunny cartoons.
The best line: “My life stinks of success and death,” sung by Orphee and which wins the award for the most French sounding declaration in history. Speaking of Orphee, one of the show’s insurmountable problems was that Jean Marais (one of the most beautiful men in history) played him in the movie and those are some pretty big cheekbones to fill. Compare and contrast:

Jean Marais

Eugene Brancoveneau, the Orphee in Sunday’s opera.
I think he looks like a shoe salesman. Jean Marais would never sell you shoes. You should be so lucky.
Also, here’s a picture I stumbled on of Brancoveneau getting up to something or the other at Spoleto:

Oh dear.
The set looked like it was borrowed from a middle level community college production of Death of Salesman. Eurydice had a snappy little New Look shirtwaist dress that was very pretty, but Death was tarted up in a corset and a full skirt, neither of which fit or did her any favors.
So intermission rolled around and we sort of left. “Fled” would probably be a better description of us scurrying out, looking for cupcakes, which we never did find. Rats.

About mrpeenee

A former bon vivant and terror of a number of New Orleans bars in the mad, gay 1980s, I'm now quietly retired and widowed in San Francisco. I have a crooked nose due to an unfortunate Frisbee accident.

8 responses »

  1. Actually Miss J, like Mr. P and the Mistress, gained all her opera knowledge from Bugs, too. When she saw “The Barber of Seville” on-stage it was quite a shock.

    Coincidentally, Miss J was watching some Looney Tunes on dvd this weekend. They used the classical music quite liberally, even before Bugs.


  2. Those LIPS on Jean Marais! Jesus! Those are the lips of classical Greek statues. Or something like that.

    I get the “let's get the fuck outta' here” at the opera notion. Been there/done that with some screeching German thing here. Not even a show tune to whistle much later in the shower.


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