A Night at the Opera: <em>A Florentine Tragedy</em> and <em>Gianni Schicchi</em>

Last night Delphine and I went to the opera. This March Break Delphine attended Opera Camp at the COC, and one of the perks was a pair of tickets to the dress rehearsal of the opera she studied at camp, Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. It's an opera in one act, and the other half of the bill was Alexander Zemlinsky's A Florentine Tragedy.

The Zemlinsky was first, which put a bit of a spanner into our plan to leave at intermission in case of extreme boredom or fatigue. Fortunately there was neither, despite A Florentine Tragedy being a bit, um, challenging.

Delphine and I read the synopses over before the show and decided A Florentine Tragedy sounded more like a comedy. A merchant walks in on his wife and her lover. (Delphine says "boyfriend".) The merchant decides the wife isn't really having an affair, so he tries to sell the other man some merchandise. The boyfriend says sure, he'll buy it and then offers the merchant even more money. The merchant says the boyfriend can have the whole house! The boyfriend says he wants the wife! The man says his wife is only good for housework, and then tells her to sew something! (Actually spin, but Delphine thought sew.) The men drink wine and then fight, and the man kills the boyfriend. The wife says, "I didn't realize you were so strong!", and the man says, "I didn't realize you were so beautiful!" Their love is renewed!

(It makes much more sense now that I know it's based on a play by Oscar Wilde.)

After we had a giggle at the synopsis we watched the real thing. Delphine is very attentive at musical performances, and she was rapt through the whole show — except at the end with the fighting, when she "shut up", as she calls it: closed her eyes and blocked her ears.

As I said, it was pretty challenging: discordant and free of any melody to speak of, grim and dark. But we've been going to Music and Truffles for a few years, and they're not shy about throwing all kinds of crazy music at kids; Delphine doesn't seem to mind it. The direction and staging was interesting — the acting was stylized and melodramatic, with many poses being struck. At several points the performers created dramatic shadows and silhouettes.

After the show ("That was creepy.") we met up with Tanya and Ursa and explored the Four Seasons Centre. We asked the girls if they wanted to stay for the second show, and there was jumping and glee.

Gianni Schicchi was entirely opposite to A Florentine Tragedy: Italian, not German; sunny, not dark; comic, not tragic; a cast of many compared with a cast of three; natural rather than melodramatic acting. It was a perfect double-bill for the circumstances: if the girls never go to another opera they will have a pretty good idea of what opera is about.

The direction for Schicchi was great — broad without being ridiculous. Special credit goes to the supernumary playing Buoso Donati, who had to die in the first few minutes of the opera and then be manipulated for the rest of the show, ultimately being wrapped up and folded into a sofa bed.

Also in the opera were Simone Osborne playing Lauretta, who was adorable (and sung beautifully) and Peter McGillivray as Marco. He's performed with my choir a couple of times and is also great. I also enjoyed the performance of Marco's wife, La Ciesca, by Rihab Chaieb. And everyone else was really good, too. (Not that I'm a connoisseur — I'm pretty happy as long as no-one goes flat or falls off the stage.)

The show ended around 10:00 and we were home by 11:00, which is the latest Delphine has ever been up, ever. She was hungry (if you stay up late enough you get hungry all over again!) so we had a piece of toast and went off to bed, full of the satisfaction of an adventure successfully completed.