This past Friday my husband and I went to the opera, we try to do this at least once a year. Sometimes we manage it, sometimes (like last year) we have WAY too many things planned to do so.
This year we saw what I can honestly say is the best opera we've seen together, ever.
We've seen The Magic Flute which has the amazing Queen of the Night aria, but is quite possibly one of the weirdest things I have ever encountered.
Marriage of Figaro- very boring and I wish I could have seen the Barber of Seville instead.
Cosi Fan Tutte was amusing, though I didn't know one single song and Rigoletto ; one of the most depressing things I have ever seen in my life. And my favorite play is Hamlet.
Friday night we saw Pagliacci and Gianni_Schicchi which has one of my favorite songs in it: Oh Mio Babbino Caro, quite frankly it was the only reason we went.
While Gianni Schicchi was amazing it was Pagliacci that captured me. It was riveting, intense, brilliant, beautiful and sad. I didn't even need the translations to understand what was going on. The director and actors should be very proud of themselves.
(Spoilers below- though this is a 100+ year old opera- get over it.)
Basically it is about a clown who puts on a performance with his wife and a few friends. The performance is a take on the story of Harlequin and Columbine. Pagliacci finds Columbine cheating and in funny prop, slap stick humor skit he is made a fool and Harlequin and Columbine get away with it.
In real life Pagliacci is not so forgiving and tells Nedda (his wife) that he would kill her if he ever found out she was cheating.
Of course Nedda is in love with another man and she wants to leave Pagliacci. When, of course, her husband discovers her cheating he is enraged and tries to hurt her. However his friends convince him to let it go because the show must go on.
During the performance Pagliacci's passion and rage get the better of him and he breaks character and tells Nedda that he will not allow her to leave him and stabs her. In front of a crowd, including their daughter and Nedda's lover.
Nedda's lover tries to defend her and winds up dead as well.
The opera ends.
Now this is a very short basic plot summary. There is so much more color to the opera, so many emotions, additional characters and plot twists. I loved it.
However, as we were driving home, I started to think about it. About how this is a tale of a man refusing to believe a woman no longer wants to be with him and not being able to handle it. In fact he acts like he owns Nedda and he would rather she was dead then her leave him or be with anyone else. Her happiness no longer matters, how much he "lovers" her doesn't matter, his own freedom doesn't matter. All that matters is he owns her and he feels she has wronged him.
How awful is it that an opera that premiered in 1892 has the exact same theme as crimes that are committed in 2018. It was common enough more than 100 years ago that an opera was written about it and the composer knew people would relate to it. In fact Ruggero Leoncavallo wrote this based on a crime he remembered from his childhood.
a case encountered by Leoncavallo’s father, who was a police magistrate in Naples. The incident — concerning a middle-aged actor who murdered his unfaithful actress wife onstage during a performance — clearly inspired the story of the opera. Opera composers don’t often write their own libretto, but it looks like this case lit a creative spark in Leoncavallo.
We like to pretend that as a species, humans have come so far. Complete bullshit. Women have been murdered by men for centuries and nothing has changed. We can vote and have more rights than women did in 1892 but you are still very likely to be killed by your partner, or a dude who wishes he was.