Friday, May 14, 2010


so i ended up going to see the opera myself. (i had emailed my friend to ask for his review, and he in turn invited me along with him, since his wife wanted to sit this one out!) and by the way, the mccaw hall is an awesome facility if you aint never been there.

i can't say i am much of an opera critic, and i probably never would've seen an opera had my brother not taken it up as a career upon his move to germany some 12 years ago, but i go pretty regularly, so maybe that qualifies me somehow. but this opera was dang different from the 'classic' operas i've seen... (i usually see the ones everybody has seen: for example, i've been to 'marriage of figaro' 3 times.) the music was rather discordant- that kinda singing you'd expect to hear from someone whose making up a song as they go along - or something you might sing yourself if you were making fun of opera, never having been to one before. but despite that criticism, i really liked this opera. the story was compelling enough to hold my attention for the duration (2 acts; 60 minutes each, with a half hour intermission.) in fact, with the 'old' operas, i usually get sleepy part way through the soprano's big aria (the aria when she is only 45 minutes out from her death by suicide, murder, or the consumption as is the case with la boheme.) but this one kept me riveted, leaning forward in my seat to get a better view of the impressive scenery.

but let me get to what i am getting to - about vietnam. so the opera is built around the story of a daughter, amelia, who was named by her father for amelia earhart, and her father has now gone off to war in vietnam, and he is conducting bombing raids there.

the story is told in a non-linear fashion with flash forwards and flashbacks - past and present scenes being acted out simultaneously - with amelia earhart making several appearances to sing alongside the modern characters, her plane flying ominously above the house or the final scene in the hospital.
and there's even a flash sideways of sorts - for fans of lost - where the mythological story of icarus is played alongside a scene from 1996. but a scene from 1985 reveals the details of amelia's father's death after ejecting from his plane during a bombing run on a power plant at haiphong vietnam.

this part is played with intensity and fast-paced action that is unusual for an opera. (they usually take so long to die!) and the superimposition of two time periods in vietnam on top of each other will leave "lost" fans frothing at the mouth. the viet singing is done well, and doesn't sound near as weird as the english singing. (i thought obama had outlawed all opera in english at the same time as when he reversed george w's official pronunciation of nucuelar back to nuclear.)

my only confusion was on the scenery for the vietnam scene. the backdrop is beautiful, showing the interesting limestone mountains common for a north vietnam coastal town. but the houses looked almost south american. they were brick structures with stucco on top. i guess i might be in danger of false stereotypes here, but i would've expected something on stilts with a bamboo thatched roof? but i am sure they researched it, so i must be the one that's wrong. and maybe the stucco is just reflecting the french colonial influence that undoubtedly was found in the cities.

well, i guess i am also in danger of reviewing this opera here without having said anything of substance. so i will paraphrase what stan hall, my co-opera fan, said: usually, with operas, the story is something mythological or so far removed from reality that the listener must rely on the music to carry the performance. but this story here is so contemporary and relevant to our modern-day experiences and emotions, that it really has the ability to draw in its audience, despite the music that is somewhat difficult to connect with.

so the seattle opera gets credit for premiering 'amelia' here; seattle is definitely on the forefront of culture with this one. and i recommend yall get out there and get your tickets before it's done.

and also, i think its cool that stephanie meyer, the vampire loving author of twilight, lent her image for the promotional posters:


Anonymous said...

Dude, read the comment below regarding the asian jersey shore. I know we don't know each other, but I have hope that human decency will prevail and the you'll remove the picture.

Ann said...

I haven't ever been to an opera. I think this one sounds like it should be my first. Or maybe I should watch a "normal" opera and then see this one, so I don't have high expectations for all other operas. It sounds like it was well done.

jrm said...

anon, done... see below. hey ann, this was a good one, although the music wasn't what you'd expect from an opera.


Human decency? WTH? :(

Mandy said...

Hey great review, I just might check out some opera... maybe...