A while ago Jess discovered an Opera Underground special where we could get specially priced opera tickets for only $40. Since a few of us had been discussing how we’d never been to the opera, we decided to give it a whirl and chose to see the opera “Le Tragedie de Carmen,” or just “Carmen,” for short.
Our tickets included a reception from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at The Gage where for an hour we got tasty appetizers and some drink specials. Opera Underground is some kind of “young professionals club,” so I think that’s why they had the reception, although we kept to ourselves and I definitely saw old dudes in suits who would be more likely to be in a “grandparents of young professionals club,” but whatever. We also didn’t participate in their drink specials since it was only one drink that sounded gross and one beer I didn’t want. I’d never been to The Gage, and the appetizers were really tasty. I’d like to go back there for dinner.
I really did not know what to expect at all of this opera Carmen. When we were seated, I was surprised that our seats were so good. 13 rows from the stage on the main floor, just to the left. Score! I was also surprised, when the opera started, that for the most part the on-stage dress was modern. Carmen was first performed 130+ years ago. For some reason I expected it to be really old timey. Also surprising? The language. I knew that the opera wouldn’t be sung in English, so earlier in the day I’d read ahead. I thought, “If this thing isn’t in English then I better figure out what it’s about so I know what’s going on.” I found out that the story is based in Seville, Spain, so I thought it’d be in Spanish. Wrong! Georges Bizet, who wrote the opera, was French so the whole thing was in French. Except a few speaking parts, which were in English (?!?). Get this, though, there was a display above the stage that showed English subtitles, so all along we knew what was going on.
As for the story, there were copious amounts of all the classics: Sex, fighting, lies, drinking, murder. In the first 10 minutes of the opera a bitch fight broke out. What’s not to like? Also, a few people told me beforehand that I’d recognize songs and I scoffed, “I don’t know any opera songs!” But you know what? They were right. Carmen has been around for so long that the songs have made it into modern-day commercials and everything. You may recognize the Toreador (Bullfighter) Song. Especially, the middle of it. For sure the overature will sound familiar.
I think it’s neat that the Opera Underground is trying to make opera more accessible for younger crowds by doing drink specials beforehand, reduced ticket prices, etc. Overall, I thought the opera was a fun night out. Something different to do. Something maybe I’d want to do once a year maybe. I liked it, but not so much I’d want to spend a lot of time and money on it. It’s cool to see these old, old stories, though. Stories that millions of people have told and heard for generations. And now that I know these productions are presented more modernly and there are subtitles… it’s not as foreign of a concept to grasp.
One other note: At the end of the opera, when the actors were taking their bows, the old man next to me and many others in the crowd were yelling “Bravo! Bravo,” which at first I was like “what the hell?” but then I realized that if you’re going to yell “Bravo!,” the opera is the place to do it! Bravo, Carmen, Bravo!