Outdoor Opera

Well, there was a free performance by Houston Grand Opera tonight. The main parts were all played by HGO Studio members, which was quite cool. The whole thing was at an outdoor theatre in the middle of a park by the zoo. Shows and performances there are usually really great, and the opera was no exception. Though I had already seen this opera multiple times, La Traviata, and I had seen this exact production – though with more names, since this one used only the local studio folks who are working on improving themselves for their professional careers – it was still quite impressive.

Firstly, the performers were good. Bigger, though, was the fact that HGO actually brought 18-wheeler truckloads of sets and costumes just for these two performances (last night and tonight). They put a graded stage on top of the stage, then put their set on top of it. I’m not entirely sure they didn’t bring their own supertitles screen that hung up above the stage. And they also had two monitors on the sides of the stage, though out front, so I could see them clearly, but only could just see that they were video of the conductor, as opera usually has for the performers on stage. And, lastly, we got to sit right up front, only a few rows away from the stage. We could see each person and each costume and each bull skeleton clearly. It was great.

Even though we had two life flight helicopters fly over and some ghetto-sounding fancy boom box party that was taking place nearby in the park, it was still enjoyable. Oh! We also had a small incident of sorts…(?)

There is an area of theatre seating in front of the stage there and lots of people sit there (we were there tonight), and then there is the sound booth in a concrete little building at the back of the seating, and then there is a massive hill upon which loads more people sit for performances, picnic style or in lawn chairs on one half or the other.

Now, just at the end of the first intermission, two guys were standing atop the sound booth, one shouting out to the hill. It was quite weird, and we couldn’t understand what the guy was shouting, but it seemed very soapbox-like. Everyone had quieted down for the show to start, and the guy was still shouting. No one white knew what to do about it, and everyone was just starting to wonder what could be appropriately done. All of a sudden, a deep and powerful male voice yells from Hill Left, “Boy! Sit yo’ ass down!”
And just about everyone clapped and cheered. The guy then did shut up and sit down, and I chuckled massively to myself at the whole scenario. Ridiculous. Just ridiculous. 😛 And I was also quite glad that it was handled without any violence or police. I had started to wonder if one or both would be imminent. But the kind man had both the courage and the ability to shout the men down and to let the show go on. 😛

Anyway, it and the boom box were both silly, but the show was still great. So, yay!

Thank you, God, for this lovely blessing. Please, bring my man home safely and healed even more from his poker night tonight. Heal us both wholly. Thank you for this life and these beautiful opportunities. Help us to seize them and pursue them fully, fulfilling your will as we become and be our best selves. In your name, I pray in gratitude. Amen.

P.S. I sent this to my man to show him how they, too, we’re playing poker! 😛 He laughed at it. And me. Haha

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Sick at the opera

Well, I’m much improved in terms of how I physically feel, but I still have some sickness my body is having to fight, something nasal. My head and body don’t ache, and I have an appetite and quite decent energy compared to yesterday. But my throat is still sore, true to an overnight nasal drip kind of sick.

But I was well enough to attend the opera tonight, and I even made it most of the way through the opera before my body decided it was going to start needing to cough at decreasing increments of time, just about immediately. Fortunately, my mom had just given me a throat spray that was sitting in my pocket, and I was able to help suppress most of the coughs with that during the remainder of the performance. So, we enjoyed the show and didn’t seem to cause any disturbance for ourselves or anyone around us either.

Now, the question is whether I’ll be able to sleep… God, help me sleep tonight that I be healed tomorrow. In your name, I pray. Amen.

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The Opriest of Operas

Or the oprarest, if you want to be British about it…

Tonight, we saw Tosca, which is by Puccini. It was great. As our family friend said, the tenor really did steal the show. He was spectacular. Spectacular. And, given how great the lead and the other main supporting roles both were, that’s truly saying something. They were all awesome.

However, that same family friend had informed us ahead of time that the production was great. He saw a final dress rehearsal of it the other week, you see. (He also is a musician by career, and has worked many years in classical radio, so he knows what he’s taking about with opera.) Apparently, Tosca is possibly his favorite opera and was the first he ever saw, working as an usher with his mom forever ago.H

He and my mom were messaging before the show tonight, as well as during the intermissions. He said specifically before the show started that Tosca was, ‘the most opera of operas,’ and, therefore, to expect a lot of people to die, as well as lots of drama.

As we hit the first intermission, he shared that the music ending the first act is his favorite and he has been singing it constantly since seeing the show recently. At the second intermission, the end of the second act, he said that he had started listening to a recording of it just after our show started. Ha! My man responded, “I’m listening to it, too.” (He has a lot of trouble staying fully awake at the opera, as we usually go weeknights, and, let’s admit it, it is Hard to stay awake at the opera when we’re sitting in a dark theatre, far from the stage, and we’re tired before the show even starts.) 😛

My mom sent a final message that, ‘Only two people have died so far, so I’m guessing the third act will be busy!’ He laughed at it, gave a confirmation of its accuracy, and then added, “‘Only two people have died so far,’ is the most opriest thing one could say”. We cracked up so hard right as the lights were going down. And he wasn’t wrong, not on any account. (This includes his ironic statement of its being a light little, family-friendly show with good moral values. It very much is not, and comically so at certain points.)

In the end, yes, just like almost all the other operas, death reigns, hope tries really hard with a really pretty and powerful aria, all the stupid people get what they had coming all along, everything is ridiculously dramatic, and the music is practically divine in how spectacular it is. Indeed, Tosca is very much the most opera of operas. Though, I now will hold this classification in mind for all operas I see, and determine if I can find an opera more opera than Tosca!

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It’s just so dramatic… Of course they both died at the end, to be forever in their love through death, as they sacrificed themselves to save her husband, whom she never really liked or loved, but who was going to die rather than reveal her secret to the world.

And of course the show used real fire for the bonfire-beacon on the stage and threw real massive buckets of water onto the stage to show the tide crashing into the cave where the two lovers were now ball-and-chained to die by drowning with the tide rising. Very cool effect from each.

And of course we both snoozed for st least part of the show – how can one not with such lulling music in a dark space with a cozy chair, holding the hand of one one loves?

I just love opera.

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Pretty Woman

We saw, again, La Traviata at the opera tonight. It was done well, of course. The music was spectacular. Supposedly, when it first released, Verdi said, when the opera was rather a flop, ‘It was either my opera or the singers – only time will tell.’ It is now one of the most renowned and loved operas of all time. Time told.

It is also part of Día de Muertos today – today is All Saints’ Day and tomorrow is All Souls’ Day. My mom and I wore our respective Día de Muertos skirts. And, last-minute, she used spare fabric from when she made my skirt a few years ago, and she made a bow tie for my lovely man to wear to the opera with us tonight. He wore blue pants that went quite well with the mixed coloring of the calaveras on the fabric, and he looked stunning.

He also fell asleep off and on for most of the show, but neither of us holds that against him. For one thing, opera music can be so lulling and soothing, relaxing – it’s not that hard to fall asleep in a dark, cool theatre with opera music playing, as she and I have definitely had our fair share of it ourselves. For another, he was exhausted going into it. Even still, he enjoyed it all with us, naps included. (Opera naps really are quite satisfying, somehow. I think it is due to the wonderful music that is still stimulating the ears and brain while the body rests.)

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Bluebell and Ice Cream

Bluebell and Ice Cream (also properly titled, but not necessarily known as “Bluebell and Pizza) for year number eight was a success. My man went with me, and we rushed over after the cool opera showcase – it was very cool, by the way – that ended at 9pm. We arrived around 9:30, but the party was still in swing, so we had some somewhat melty but cold Bluebell ice cream sandwiches and ice cream, talked with people, and let the dog a bunch. As we were leaving, we ended up with the host, checking out all the furniture she had made in her recent woodworking endeavors, and also playing on and checking the tuning of the piano she recently inherited (though doesn’t yet know how to play). My man, of course, spent the piano time roughhousing with the dog, having a grand ole time that contrasted to the previous ‘people time’ of the party itself. I could totally relate.

Anyway, it was a great evening, and I enjoyed that I enjoyed being social like that.

Thank you, God, for such a blessing as ease in such a setting, and especially for the joy of it all and the extra blessing of balance as we got the two-on-two time with the host and her dog afterward. Thank you. Amen.

P.S. I ran into a buddy from high school at the opera thing – had given him some extra tickets we’d had – and another buddy from high school and college who is an awesome musician, though on the spectrum, so is often a tad over the top or odd in social settings. However, the irony was that the former was a touch awkward and the latter was quite comfortable and fun tonight! It was silly, yet good. I was glad to see and be with them both. And it was especially lovely to have the extra-long hug the musician gave me – he always hugs me when he sees me, though he doesn’t seem to touch most people. He still talked to me while facing a slightly other direction, as though looking for someone ‘somewhere over there’, and he talked in the same upper class British cadence without the accent, as he always does, but it was surprisingly comforting to be in such an unchanged and familiar situation that brought up so many positive memories and feelings. And he told me how I can now watch the opera that he wrote and had performed! Looking forward to watching it on a television soon!

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Turandot is a spectacular spectacle – Puccini certainly got it right and did it well with this one, y’all. I almost cried twice, and then did cry near the end, all because of the music – it was so amazing. Robert Wilson’s visionary directing was spectacular in and of itself, yes. It was so fun and cool and amazing. But the music itself held its own… it was satisfying and utterly fulfilling… and, boy darn, was it good… Just wow…

Thank you, Houston Grand Opera, for this spectacular performance. And thank you, God, for allowing me to witness it… in gratitude, I pray. Amen!

P.S. One of the main characters suddenly had to step out (I believe it was today), and so another member of the cast played her physical role, while Juliet from the current production of Romeo and Juliet stood on the side of the stage with a music stand and in a black dress and sang the part. “Like no other,” the creative director said in his pre-show announcement, and it truly was. It was amazing on all accounts. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Amen!

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Tonight, we saw a very unique production of The Magic Flute. It was awesome, but also rather bizarre. Rather than being a typical opera production, this one was done with inspiration from 1920s silent films. So, a massive white screen was the stage backdrop, and a projector created every scene, props and all, and a good chunk of characters, too. Pieces of the white screen would flip around like trap doors, revealing a person halfway up it or at the bottom or near the top, depending on the situation, and the projector would make their appearances and locations all make sense. They interacted with parts moving around in the projections all throughout, and it was really well done. Also, instead of spoken dialogue, they projected large words onto the screen itself, like in silent films, and had Mozart harpsichord pieces playing as the music, really making it feel like a silent film. And the actors as did a wonderful job of being believable in their roles in the film – it was stellar. And the Queen of the Night was the best singing performance I have ever attended for that role. Just wow

Go check it out this week at Houston Grand Opera, if you’re in Houston!

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Opera and drama

Opera always has great costuming. The show we saw tonight, however, was a rather bland costuming story, so far as opera goes. However, the program cover reminded me of a Halloween filter I had come across on a Japanese photo app…

And so, we, naturally, had to take a photo together to be in theme for the night…

Gotta love being ridiculous, and opera is certainly ridiculous. Absolutely wonderful, yes, but also ridiculous.

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(Still had to think about it…)