Seattle Opera is one of Seattle’s biggest, most “establishment” arts organizations, but they are appropriately progressive to our left-coast city, relative to other major opera companies around the country. American Dream is the perfect example. I’m a little late in talking about American Dream, since I attended the very last performance. I think it’s still worth talking about it, even though the performances are over, because it completely inverts the typical opera experience. Continue reading
I was excited to hear that Seattle Opera was performing Madame Butterfly because I love Puccini’s music and Butterfly is one of the most famous operas ever written. I didn’t know the opera was controversial for its racist depiction of the Japanese – especially its promulgation of the stereotype that Japanese women are suicidal, subservient sex puppets – until I heard about Seattle Opera’s free community panel discussion “Asian Arts Leaders Respond to Madame Butterfly,” moderated by Frank Abe, co-founder of Seattle’s Asian American Journalists Association. Continue reading
“Zeus isn’t real,” my daughter confided one day when she was four.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Yesterday I told a lie on purpose and swore by Zeus.” Swearing by Zeus was fashionable among her older sister’s Percy Jackson-obsessed friends. “And I didn’t get hit by lightning. Zeus isn’t real,” she concluded.
Fortunately, in a story that sounds apocryphal, Giuseppe Verdi’s lightning test led to a different conclusion regarding divine power. Continue reading
Long story short: A rich man has commissioned a tragic opera, “Ariadne auf Naxos,” to be performed at his party. He has also hired a commedia dell’arte troupe. At the last minute, he decides the program is too long and the two performances must be merged. Hijinks ensue. Continue reading
As I took my seat at the Seattle Public Library’s preview of Ariadne auf Naxos, I was reminded that in the opera world, 40 is young. Or maybe I’m just the only opera fan under 60 who is free to attend a lecture at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday. Of course the library hosts opera preview lectures at a number of different times and locations, which is fortunate because the lectures are very good. Continue reading
How much should an audience member prepare for a performance? Some of my best memories come from the surprises, shows I stumbled into blindly only to be completely blown away. But most of the time, concerts are more fun when you already know the music. It’s no fun to see a David Mamet play without some idea of what you are in for. Anyone who attends The Marriage of Figaro, as I once did, without knowing that the song made famous by Bugs Bunny is actually in The Barber of Seville will be sorely disappointed. In theory, I like to be prepared, but I don’t always find the time for research ahead of time. Continue reading
On a recent Wednesday night, while the rest of the family was upstairs reading bedtime stories, I snuck out of the house and met my friend who was waiting in her parked car on the corner. We drove to Ballard, where a meet-up of over a hundred motorcycle riders restored some of the neighborhood’s old, salty character. Drifting uncertainly through a sea of leather-clad riders and parked bikes, we found the warehouse with the letter H painted on the side.
“I think that’s it. Doesn’t the name of the bar start with H?”
“Yes, this is it. See, there’s a sign.”
Next to the door of the warehouse was a white homemade sandwich board. Stenciled in black block letters was the word, “Opera.”