Saturday, October 20, 2018

A Night at the Opera

Here's a sentence I never, ever thought I'd write:

Last night I attended the opening night of the Dallas Opera's production of Carmen.

My first-ever opera, you guys.

Check that right off the damn list.
Here's how it happened.

The Honors College at Precocious Daughter's university has a program that offers students free tickets to various cultural events happening in Dallas. Drunkards, let me tell you, if your only mental image of Dallas includes J.R. Ewing and JFK's brains splattered across the back seat of a limo, you may be surprised to know that Dallas has a crap-ton of culture. Theatre, ballet, opera, modern dance, art - basically, there's so much over-the-top wealth in this town that the wisest investments are real estate, culture, and helping the poor. Two of these are 100% funded.

But I digress.

Anyway, once a month PDaughter is eligible to receive two tickets to an event happening in the city. She totally wanted to score admission to Carmen, but those tickets were snapped up immediately. So last weekend she and a friend attended Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, her very first opera, and she enjoyed it a lot. Still, she put herself on a waitlist for Carmen, just in case someone couldn't use their tickets.

Earlier this week, she called me from campus: So...I have two tickets for Carmen Friday night. Wanna go with me?

Gosh, I was going to trim my nails that night...

It's a very good thing that I had only three days' notice that I was going to the opera. With more time, my demons of social awkwardness would have found an excuse for me not to go. Even with only three days at their disposal, they came close to persuading me this was something I couldn't do. I have nothing to wear. I won't fit in. I'll embarrass PDaughter.

I'm so happy I can manage to tell my demons to STFU sometimes.

PDaughter saw both of the operas in
this program. Wut.
I was going to go in a gorgeous vintage dress that I've had for several years but have never had an occasion to wear. Unfortunately, this week has been chilly and very, very rainy, and I would have been extremely uncomfortable in that ensemble. So instead I wore a long black skirt and a dressy top, which made me look matronly, but I decided I didn't give a shit. Good decision.

Side note: The dress code for operas, like the dress code for nearly everything else, has become very relaxed. Someone finally got the message that there are enough meaningless barriers between people without declaring that only people in expensive clothing deserve to hear good music. Maybe in the orchestra section, tuxedos and designer gowns were de rigueur, but the cheap seats were a relaxed, judgement-free zone.

Side note #2: When I say "the cheap seats," understand that in the Winspear Opera House, there are no bad seats, and we had an amazing, unobstructed view of the stage and the orchestra, even though we were several stories above the action.

Side note #3: The Winspear has an amazing chandelier. It has its own theme music. Written by Philip Glass. Just saying.

Watch/listen here.

So we went to the opera. I've had a stressful week, you guys. I've had a very fucking stressful week. But for three hours, I was able to completely and utterly lose myself in another world. Art rocks like that.

I tried to read the Dallas Morning News' review of the opening performance, but it's behind a paywall, so eff what the Dallas Morning News thought about it.

Here's what I thought about it.

The story of Carmen is basically a cautionary tale for the #MeToo generation. All of the drama is based on the conflict between a woman who can't set boundaries and a man who doesn't respect them anyway. Spoiler alert: Carmen ends up being murdered by the man who decides "if I can't have you, no one can have you."

Belated trigger alert.

The music is so gorgeous. The singing and acting talent on display simply blew me away.

But make no mistake: Carmen is a period piece. You'll laugh, you may cry. But if you come away identifying with any of the main characters, you need a hobby.

The best part of this amazing evening was sharing it with PDaughter. We had so much fun. I was yet again impressed by the strides she's making toward adulthood (those strides include fretting about the Freshman 15 while discussing the reasons she may pursue a minor in Economics).

Seeing Carmen changed nothing about the current stressors in my life. But it allowed me to see other dimensions of reality for a short while. And feel better about them. I guess that why artists ultimately create art.

I'd like to join them. Would you?


  1. I know an artist who's never worked in an office or had a "day job" in her entire life. She says, "I'm just not cut out for that kind of work."
    Some days I know exactly what she means.
    And you look almost as fabulous trimming your nails as you do at the opera.


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