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An Evening at the Opera


The old saying, “you can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the  city out of the girl” is true. I am a city girl now a country gal who still enjoys the wonders of the city.  Here in our quiet countryside communities of Sweden, we can enjoy a bit of the cosmopolitan city life of New York. Thanks to Peter Gelb of the Metropolitan Opera House of New York, we are able to enjoy HD broadcasts of the opera season, right here in our Swedish countryside.

We were able to enjoy a world premiere opera The Enchanted Island.  This new opera utilized the music of 18th century composers, Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and Leclair.  A new libretto written by Jeremy Sams uses the four lovers from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream while also incorporating Prospero’s Island from The Tempest.  All of these ingredients produced a most enchanting Baroque opera.

The Metropolitan orchestra was honored to be conducted  by the distinguished William Christie.

A short synopsis of The Enchanted Island :

Prospero played by the wonderful countertenor David Daniels gave a command to Ariel , his sprite servant whose freedom he controls played by Danielle De Niese a soprano, to cast a lover’s spell on Ferdinand to fall in love with his daughter,  Miranda.

Prospero played by David Daniels

Prospero played by David Daniels

Ariel being brought back by Prospero's magic as she tries to escape her recent instructions

Ariel unable to move forward because she was being pulled back by Prospero's magic as she tries to escape her recent commands

While Ariel was beginning her instructions, there were two couples who had become shipwrecked and separated from each other. This situation gave way to offering the ingredients for  both the comedy and heartache in this opera.

This was the shipwreck that left 2 newly wed couples lost and separated from each other

This was the shipwreck that left 2 newly wed couples lost and separated from each other

Ariel makes all the wrong matches. When Sycorax decides after learning of  Prospero’s plans  for his daughter Miranda and realizing that  Caliban wanted to marry her also;  that Helena, one of he shipwrecks newlyweds would be a great match for her son.

 Caliban was in absolute delightful heaven with his new love Helena

Caliban was in absolute delightful heaven with his new love Helena

Meanwhile, Ariel had mismatched everyone and was having a difficult time finding that elusive Ferdinand. While Ariel was in search of the right Ferdinand, each couple seemed to be happily basking in  their newly found love, including Caliban whose happiness was a wonderful thing to see.

The love spells were broken and all the matches fell apart as each realized, they really were not in love. When Caliban looses his love Helena, his sadness and grief is palpable. He is thrown into the depths of a sadness I have never seen before in any other opera. Caliban, played by the Bass Baritone Luca Pisaroni, went from childlike delight at finding his new love to the saddest creature ever. Not only was it heard in his voice but his body language showed the anguish of his loss. All of this,  with the beautiful score being played in the background by the fabulous Metropolitan orchestra, there was no doubt that Caliban had been thrown into the depths of depression by his loss.

This face tells the entire story of lost love and saddness

This face tells the entire story of lost love and sadness

All of a sudden, the stage is filled with gayety and dancing, all trying to make Caliban feel beter

All of a sudden, the stage is filled with gayety and dancing, all trying to make Caliban feel better

Caliban's sadness gave way to anger

Caliban's sadness gave way to anger

Caliban’s mother Sycorax played by the fantastic Mezzo Soprano Joyce Di Donato, sang the most beautiful aria to her sad son Caliban all about love and broken hearts. She sang of a mother’s difficult job to try to protect her child from this kind of pain and sadness. She sang to her sad son straight from  her heart.  She sang of her own anguish at not having the power to protect her son from the heart-break of love. Her anguish must have filled the air in the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan as she sang to her son, because as I watched this in my tiny theater in the Swedish countryside, I felt it sep in my heart.

As a mother, I am aware of the need and the expectation that we have the power to protect our child from the hurts and pains of life. The terrible truth is, we can not. We can only be there  to collect them as they fall , cushion that fall the best we can, hold them and remind them that hurt is a part of life and that you will always be there for them and to love them.

This is what Sycorax did for her son Caliban. I have only been so moved by such a scene on the stage once before; that was a scene from Madam Butterfly.  Then I cried as a woman understanding  Cio-Cio San’s loss of her love and her eventual feelings of betrayal. In this opera, I cried as a mother , helpless to keep painfully sad experiences from the life of her son. My tears flowed…

Sycorax sings to her sad son, Caliban

Sycorax sings to her sad son, Caliban

In the meantime, Ariel is still having a difficulty  locating Ferdinand and goes beneath the sea to consult with Neptune. She needs his help locating Ferdinand.

The moment the audience realize that Neptune is the Met’s beloved Tenor Placido Domingo, there was an eruption of thunderous applause! It was wonderful to hear and I really wish that I was sitting in the opera house at that very moment. He looked magnificent as Neptune!

Once the audience saw Ariel make her appearance beneath the sea in her diving gear, the audience broke out in delightful laughter. This opera, took us to great heights and depths. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

Ariel goes beneath the sea to find Neptune

Ariel goes beneath the sea to find Neptune

Placido as Neptune

Placido as Neptune

Neptune's underwater world was filled with suspended mermaids and the Met chorus in cut outs

Neptune's underwater world was filled with suspended mermaids and the Met chorus in cut outs

Ariel finally was able to find Ferdinand with Neptune’s assistance and each of the shipwrecked newly wed couples found each other and were blissfully in love, once again. Miranda was united with Ferdinand.  Caliban hoped that he would one day find his true love. Ariel won her freedom from Prospero and Sycorax transformed into a beautiful self-assured , ready for the world , new woman.

Sycorax  in the beginning

Sycorax in the beginning

The new Sycorax

The new Sycorax

The new and bright Sycorax

The new and confident Sycorax

Prospero, at the urgency of Neptune, begs for forgiveness from Sycorax for all the bad things he has done to her and her son Caliban and returns the island to her.

Neptune speaks of forgiveness to both sycorax and Prospero

Neptune speaks of forgiveness to both Sycorax and Prospero

Forgiveness with Neptune's help

Forgiveness with Neptune's help

Ariel the mischievous sprite wins her freedom

Ariel the mischievous sprite finally wins her freedom

As Neptune explains the virtues of mercy and forgiveness, Sycorax accepts Prospero’s apologies and extends her hand of forgiveness. With the help of the fabulous Metropolitan  chorus, there was song and beautiful music to celebrate joy, peace, forgiveness and love.

Met chorus  all join in to sing of peace, love, joy and forgiveness

Met chorus all join in to sing of peace, love, joy and forgiveness

Needless to say again , but I must, I had an enchanting evening at the opera in the Swedish countryside!

4 responses

  1. An interesting and inspiring post. It’s great to see that you have a wide variety of interests: animals, goats, Sweden, enjoying country life, and now opera. Keep the diverse posts coming!

    January 27, 2012 at 00:39

  2. Pingback: Sweden countryside | Jandhjewelry

    • Hej from Sweden,

      Glad to see you enjoyed my post “An Evening at the Opera” and placed it on your blog! It is a unique Swedish experience.

      January 27, 2012 at 12:07

  3. Hej from Sweden,

    I am so glad you enjoyed my post,” An Evening at the Opera”! I believe It is important to have a s well rounded life as possible , no matter where you may find yourself living. I am a city girl turned country gal but that that doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy the cultural attractions one generally finds in a city. I have always enjoyed going to the opera and now that I can enjoy the Met productions right here in the Swedish countryside, I take every opportunity to attend. I guess what I am trying to say is, one must grab life and live it , no matter where you might find yourself.
    You are most welcome back and learn more about my life at in the country with my goats and other pleasures.

    January 27, 2012 at 10:13

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