Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pagliacci- A Brilliant Tale of Misogyny

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.

So while in Pagliacci he used a knife, imagine how much sooner Nedda would have died had the insane clown owned a gun. 

I'm not saying this is a bad opera, or you shouldn't go see it. In fact it's great and you should run and buy tickets wherever it's playing, right now! What I am saying is really pay attention when you watch it. 

It's scary how similar it still is to events happening right now.

Need proof? See below. (This is really a SMALL sample)

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Silverware Hunt- and a New Friend

My Boo and I enjoy shopping together. Not like mall, hold my bags and purse shopping. But grocery shopping. With our kids being older this is an hours worth of time where we can go to a store with our lists and take our time buying the essentials (and some non essentials) for the house hold.

Whether this is 150$ of various groceries or simply hitting Target because for some reason all the spoons in our house have disappeared.

Which was what we were doing last night. I'm not sure how it happened- I blame spoon trolls (or children- take your pick.) But we had dwindled down to four spoons in our house.  We searched high and low and were finally able to find three disgusting and crusty utensils that needed a good scrub, but alas in a family of six (sometimes seven) this is not enough.

So Boo and I went to Target.  We found the silver wear near in the kitchen department and put four into the cart. We really like this kind because they are cheap and heavy duty. Our main task done we chose to wander.

Into the food aisle we went, meandering through colored Oreos, yogurt and the largest assortment of trail mix I have ever seen in my life. I grabbed a Califia Cocoa Noir cold brew coffee (my favorite) and we moved on to kids clothes.

Boo watched me with amusement as I oohed and aahhed at cute little boy clothes like fedoras with rabbits on them and little pale green button up shirts. I raised eye brows as he hunted for PJ Mask t-shirts  and then we quickly went into the toy section.

This has become one of our favorite sections. Our son Goblin King has come into the age where he loves pretend play and I love to indulge him in it. It satisfies the little girl in me that still wants to play Barbies. Our oldest daughter loved Barbie and Disney Princesses and played all the time, alas she is getting too old for that now. Our youngest daughter never had much interest in toys unless it was a doctor's kit or a stuffed animal. So being able to buy toys again is really fun!

We find the section with the PJ Mask Toys and the Rescue Bot action figures and we look at prices, we discuss world building of cartoons and check to see which items he has and which he doesn't. I am searching for a Cat Boy action figure complete with Cat Car and Boo is looking at toddler Star Wars toys- both of us wishing our son was into Star Wars instead.

Regretfully we leave the section of make believe and childhood behind, without putting anything into the cart.  Finally we decide it's time to go home.

However this causes us to pass by the stuffed animal section and I stop. Hands grasping for the burnt orange fluff I see. I greedily clasp it to my chest, much to my husbands confusion and amusement.

It is a tiny, soft, fluffy triceratops. The label on it reads Little Jurassic Chewie.

"Look! He's still here!" I say snuggling the little thing. A week before I had been enamored with the same stuffed animal and chosen not to spend the nine dollars on him because I am a grown up, after all.

He is sitting next to a Little Jurassic Bronte and a Little Jurassic Nibbler in green and blue. Neither of them are as cute and he is the ONLY orange one and the ONLY Triceratops. It could only have gotten better if there had been a Parasaurolophus.

I make little roaring noise sand perch him on my shoulder doing a dorky happy dance. Boo gazing at me with an expression I have come to know well. The  wow-my-wife-is-crazy-and-adorable look.

With one last squeeze I put him back and sigh. I really don't need a stuffed animal.

"I'm not five," I say shrugging with sadness.

"You'll regret it if when we come back he's gone," Boo tells me gently.

Faster than a snake I put the little orange dino in the cart, blushing and a little sheepish. It's silly and I know it, but the small rush of pleasure I get from the toy can't be over looked.

So Chewie came home with us. I sent a picture to my mom- who of course humors me with a a text back " Oh he's soooo cute!"

I finished out the evening playing with my new friend with my sons joining in bringing Goblin's monkey; Oooh Oooh and my other son with his elephant: Greg.

It was a crazy night at our house for sure.