...a potent blend of Miss Manners and Batman

Sunday, December 30, 2007

What Is It About Opera?

I just got back from what could be the last opera I ever attend. I didn't mind it as a whole, and the third act was pretty fun, but when you weigh the cost and multiply it by the entertainment factor, the resultant enjoyment-per-dollar is far too low. It's like if you paid $500 for a hamburger: That had better be one damn good burger, and you'd better not be a vegetarian.

New York City has the big sports: baseball (three stadiums!), basketball, football (ok, that's really NJ), and hockey. Oh, and tennis. Similarly, The City also has the major sources of entertainment: movies, theater, musical performances, and ballet. Oh, and opera. Opera is like the tennis of entertainment. It's not on all the time, and when it is, it can be fantastic or it can be really dull, especially if you're not a fan. And then there's the price. Those US Open tickets are pretty pricy, and opera seats cost even more.

If you're really into opera, you'd better be rich. Decent house seats at the New York City Opera House are $150 a piece. That would get you to about a dozen movies, three good musical performances, or two ballets.

To make matters worse, this was an opera that was supposed to be fun. If you attend a performance of Carmen, you expect a fat woman to die of tuberculosis at some point. But if you have cajoled your kids into seeing Hansel and Gretel, you need the experience to be pretty, or perversely funny, or at least on par with Sweeny Todd. But this production was oddly staged and had, as usual, a fairly incomprehensible libretto. My little one, who was 3, wasn't quite up to reading the subtitles. My 8-year-old wasn't much better off, either, tho he understood it enough to be quite disappointed.

A bad movie sets you no further back than $12 an a couple of wasted hours. In football terms, it's like losing one game; you move on. This opera experience was the equivalent of watching your team lose every game of the season.

Oh well, there's always next year!

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