Opera Can Be Boring and So Can Being Dead

The conceit of Mark Morris’ production of Orfeo ed Euridice - currently playing at the Met and recently shown nationwide in HD, is that famous dead people spend eternity sitting around in the outfits and hairstyles they are best remembered for, observing the folly of the living. Abraham Lincoln is decked out in stovepipe hat and funky beard, Frederick Douglass looks dapper in his black tux and shock of white hair, Queen Elizabeth seems uncomfortable in her still high-collared royal finery and a bunch of random shirtless Indian chiefs wear loin cloths and feathered headdresses and wish their culture invented pants. It made me think of a few different things:
  1. If I get famous, I hope I’m remembered for sitting on my couch wearing sweat pants and eating combos, so I can be comfortable in Celebrity Afterlife.

  2. What’s to become of contemporary celebrities? Is Jason Preistly forever damned to strut about as Brandon Walsh and Paris Hilton dressed up for a slutty car wash? What about Danny Bonaduce? Does he get to be a red-haired bell bottom clad little moppet, or is he forced to exist forever as a muscle bound, alcoholic publicity-whore?

  3. Surely any afterlife which serves as a physical manifestation of collective memory exists more to satisfy the vanity of the living than to reward the dead- since they would definitely have better things to do than sitting around, dressed to the nines, watching us make asses of ourselves for all eternity.

Anyhow, this type of speculation kept me conscious for most of the opera- though certainly not all of it. The production was beautifully sung, exquisitely produced and lovingly choreographed- and yet, I could barely keep my eyes open. The experience drove home the point to me that I’m not really a classical music or dance lover and that I need a little more theatre in my theatre to keep myself engaged. Still- for $22, it’s a great way to share in the incredible work at the Met without having to fly to New York or get dressed up.

Tickets to The Met: Live in HD are on sale now online and at select movie theatres worldwide. 2009 season will feature Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti, Madama Butterfly by Puccini, La Sonnambula by Bellini, and La Cenerentola by Rossini. For Los Angeles tickets and showtimes click here.

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