Okay. it’s out-of-the-closet time.
For the past several weeks, I have been listening to — are you ready?
OPERA, for the love of pete.
On my XM satellite radio, there’s a Metropolitan Opera channel, that plays it nonstop, 24/7, no commercials.
I’ve known this for a long time, but was only recently drawn to it.
Once I turned it on, though, it just wouldn’t go off (except for spring training baseball games).
Who Else? The maestro, Verdi
I’m listening right now — Die Meistersinger.]
In making this shift (temporary or permanent, who knows?), I turned away from the progressive talk radio shows that have been my listening mainstay (not counting baseball, of course) for the past several years.
Could this mean [gasp] it’s over between me and Stephanie and Randi? How will I break it to them?
[No, no, honeys, it’s not you, it’s ME. — And this time, I guess it’s true.]
But whether it’s a permanent shift, it’s certainly a serious case. I’ve already sat through all four of Wagner’s Ring operas. (Well, for the sake of truth, I actually watched them on video, fourteen hours worth. And lived to tell the tale.)
The good news: they had subtitles, so I could understand the librettos.
The bad news: understanding the librettos didn’t make the stories any less ridiculous.
All that fuss for a stupid ring. Really, Tolkien did that one way better.
But so what? says the confirmed opera goer.
And that’s not all. I’ve gasped as Mimi died in Paris (several times); and Carmen made cigars; Papageno found his sweetheart; and Don Giovanni faced his infernal comeuppance.
I even heard Lulu, that crazy modernistic thing by Alban Berg, about a shameless ess-ell-you-tee who starts out in Germany, leaving a trail of male corpses in her deadly wake, but ends up in London getting sliced up by Jack the Ripper. Sure.
[Ooops, was this a spoiler for anybody? Sorry.]
Aida, not yet; but the anvil Chorus, totally. (They play short bits in between the full-length operas.) Cavalleria Rusticana.
I don’t know how it happened. I don’t think it’s class; I was raised an all-American kid from Kansas. In my ancestral precincts, the only Opry allowed was the Grand Ole. And I’m no closer to the income level associated with opera now than I was a few years ago.
Besides, I went for Elvis as early as “Don’t Be Cruel,” was a stalwart for Dylan and the post-”Hard-Day’s-Night” Beatles. Saw them, the Stones, Hendrix and The Who back in the Day.
But –hmmmmm: Tommy was an opera — that’s what they said, at least — so maybe it was a straw in the wind. Quadrophenia too.
You think it could be the water in the Cape Fear river? Possibly; but none of my friends here are showing the signs yet.
Along the way I also became a classical freak. But stuck with the orchestral stuff, except for an annual Messiah. A couple Gilbert & Sullivans, but nobody dies in them, so do they really count?
Is it a function of age? [Well, a google search doesn’t yet turn up any hits on “Opera as Alzheimer’s symptom,” so that’s a relief.]
Maybe it’s just that operas are consistently loud enough that my fading hearing can pick it all up (I think). Eh? What was that you said?
Anyway, perhaps Leonard Cohen is the villain here. He’s a certified classic if there ever was one. But I understand his words, so that’s doubtful . . . .
Well, whatever. If I do come out of this episode, relief is not far away. Only five channels down on my XM there’s “Bluesville,” presided over by another living classic, B.B. King.
Now, there is a protagonist for a great American opera, if ever there was one. The story line would beat all the weirdness of Wotan any day.
I even have a title: Nobody Loves Me But My Mother — And she Could Be Jiving Too . . . All it needs is the right composer. (I wonder who would play Lucille, tho.)
Well, B.B., you could turn it into the next hot honky-tonk roadhouse . . . . Needs a bit of blue neon on the outside, tho, and a lot better barbecue inside.