Thursday, April 15, 2010

An Interesting Night at the Opera

During my last week in Torino I decided to hit up the opera. I'd wanted to go at some point during my trip, but that point kept getting pushed further and further off, until my last week came around and I had yet to go. Unfortunately I couldn't convince any of my friends to join in the fun, but I wasn't too worried. Even with my dubious Italian skills I figured I could muddle my way though the plot of a slow-moving play. It's all in the visuals anyway, right?

Well, it was not exactly what I pictured it to be to say the least. The name of the play was Idomeneo, and all I knew of it going in was that it was going to be performed with Mozart. I figured, you can’t go wrong with a Greek play and classic music, right? Well, the old Teatro Regio got very creative with the plot of the original story. The opening scene was of an older man leaning over a fairly large fish tank, then throwing several objects into it. In the next scene I assume we were now looking at the perspective from inside the tank (judging by the air bubbles on the walls and enlarged objects). The objects thrown in were a car, a TV, a bed, and a Greek column. Lying on the floor were about 20 people wearing togas. Then in walked the main characters; a woman wearing a rhinestone-studded dress and a man with a plastic-covered suit. That’s right: the suit was covered in a giant, thick, plastic-bag-like layer. Why? Even long after the opera has ended I still have no clue. All I know is that they sure didn’t break the bank with the clothing budget in this one: everyone was either wearing bedsheets or plastic bags.

The first 30 minutes or so looked more or less like your average Greek tragedy: two people fall in love, but can’t be together for some Italian reason unknown to me, so they each threaten to kill themselves. The bubbles certainly mixed it up a bit, I have to say. The crowning glory was when what looked suspiciously like a 1970s Chevy was lowered onto the stage full of togas. I've always said that the opera could use a little horsepower to spice things up. (And who says the world doesn't value American-made cars?) After that a TV was added to the fray, complete with bunny ears. What these two things had to do with a Greek story evolving in a fish tank I cannot even begin to fathom. It was quite entertaining to speculate, though. My final analysis is that the director of the Teatro Regio was on mushrooms when he interpreted this play.

Of course, I had about a snowball's chance in hell at figuring out what was going on, but at least I wasn’t alone. One of the little old ladies sitting next to me (the place was chocked full of them) said more than once that it was “Impossibile! Troppo strano!” Whew- it's always good to know that I’m not insane, or have been slipped some kind of psychedelic drug.

At the end of the opera I still had no idea what I had just watched for 3 hours. So naturally I was a bit curious. As soon as I got home I looked up a synopsis of Idomeneo online, and what do you know? It actually was a greek tragedy. There was no mention of fish tanks, chevies, or TVs at all, which only goes to show that one should never indulge in illegal substances on the job. Che strano!

1 comment:

  1. Now you have got an idea of "Libera interpretazione" and "licenza poetica".