Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Night and day, Light and gay, Let us drink our cares away.*

Last week we attended our first opera of the season: Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus” at San Francisco Opera. The piece is actually an operetta that has been elevated to the operatic repertoire. The plot is a very silly sex farce with lots of slapstick and running jokes. The story revolves around salacious infidelities of the Viennese upper crust. The opera also mocks many of the traditional opera elements. The music is a collection of grand toe-tapping waltzes. It was hilarious to watch the opera stars running around the stage performing antics like they just came off a production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”.

Earlier in the month we saw another performance that mocked and deconstructed opera elements. TheatreWorks in Palo Alto presented a revival of David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly”. The theatre last did the show 14 years ago with the same two leading actors: Francis Jue and Mark Capri. We loved the show. In fact we saw it twice, once on the theatre’s new “OutWorks” night and a week later when we organized a group of 40 from our GLBT running group. Francis and Mark did a magnificent job in their roles. The play is a brilliant exploration of love and politics. It is based on a true story of a French diplomat’s relationship with a glamorous Chinese opera star, an elusive “butterfly” that after a 20 year relationship is revealed to be a spy—and a man. The play is also a metaphor for the West’s (especially the US) naive and arrogant treatment of countries and cultures that are considered not as advanced or “third world”. My favorite line is when the French ambassador is talking to his diplomat about the beginning of the USA’s military involvement in Vietnam and how the Vietnamese would welcome the US military and democracy. He says: “Oh, the Americans always like to hear how welcome they'll be.” That is the same shortsightedness and self-delusional reasoning we have for our current Middle East mess.

* From English version of TRINKE LIEBCHEN, TRINKE SCHNELL, "Die Fledermaus" (Johann Strauss Jr.)

1 comment:

Addiction said...

yayyy!! let us do just that.

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