November 24, 2002
Guns And Opera

I wouldn't have thought opera would have much to do with the Second Amendment, but yesterday's shows at the Met proved me wrong:

1. In the crisis of Fidelio, the evil prison governor Don Pizarro is about to murder his prisoner Florestan with a knife, when Florestan's wife Leonore saves him by pulling a gun. Apparently Don Pizarro had never heard that he shouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight.

Leonore had infiltrated the prison by disguising herself as a young man, calling herself Fidelio, and taking a job as aide to the jailer Rocco. Rocco's daughter Marzelline falls in love with 'Fidelio', leading to much amusement and confusion in Act I. I suppose having a gun in her pocket helps Leonore convince Marzelline that she is a man, and glad to see her, neither of which is true.

2. I forgot to mention this at the time, but when I saw Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto last month, there was a warning notice on the front door of the theater that struck me as odd. I don't recall the exact text, but it advised the audience that there would be gunshots in the opera, and they should not be startled or offended when they heard them. Apparently New Yorkers are made of sterner stuff, and need no such warning. The shot that kills Manrico in Il Trovatore did rather startle me -- I already knew he was doomed, but it came sooner than I expected. I still didn't think I needed a written warning.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at November 24, 2002 09:31 PM