We won't come right out and say this is an opera drinking game, but we have devised a little way to make watching opera (in the comfort of your home, without distracting other ticket buyers, please!) a more social, even competitive, activity. Our points system can be worth whatever currency you so desire; but we're not opposed to a point equalling hearty gulps of your preferred beverage...
Bosom first, she glides across the stage like Morticia from The Addams Family. At centre stage, one hand presses in between her breasts, the other gracefully clutching at her skirts in preparation. One foot invisibly steps upstage under metres of fabric, and the leading lady descends into a curtsy so deep it could convince you that she's actually only a bust, perched upon a hydraulic office chair hidden beneath her tulle.
Grant Woolard has created what's probably the greatest mashup yet of classical music tunes. He combined 57 melodies, by 33 composers from J.S. Bach to Satie, into 6 minutes of genius that we can't stop watching. Also, we now feel strongly that there should exist gag editions of these scores, notated entirely of little pictures of the composers' heads.
That's why it's fairly easy, and even ridiculously hilarious, to find some modern-day equivalents to some of opera's best characters, in the form of pop songs. It's endlessly amusing to imagine Cherubino singing the Beastie Boys' "Girls", or to draw a clear line between Carmen and the Pussycat Dolls song, "Dont' Cha".
We love everything about this video. Austrian death metal band Dead Territory has recorded John Cage's 4'33", and it's a great mix of respectful and funny (is it supposed to be funny? Maybe that's part of the aleatory). Kudos to these guys for staying true to their own style, for honouring the piece's three movements, and for sheer commitment.
If you haven't yet heard, there's a certain waddle of penguins (apparently it's "waddle", not "flock"!) in Antarctica that get totally freaked out by the sound of a tenor:
Sustained sound is different from regular speech, and there's a reason why composers take an opera libretto and divide it into recitatives, arias, ensembles, etc. This text is different than that text, and the music delivers this message loudly. But with those blasé slides popping up in the surtitle box, it's like the the titles themselves are bored, and contemptuous of any textual subtleties woven by a composer into their opera.
Performing in public is about imaginary stats: there are sayings that go something like how it's 10% preparation, 89% inspiration, and the final 1% a combination of panic and validation seeking. Whatever the proportions, the above factors are all in the artistic mix, balancing in a way that's at best symbiotic, and at worst a mental food chain.
We always wonder, since it's right there and wide open, do singers ever find themselves staring into the mouth of their duet partner? Do they become mesmerized by a waving uvula or trembling tongue? Are they conscious of having someone stare directly into their cavernous oral orifice as they holler away? Is it a bonding experience for both parties?
There's something to be said about voicing unpopular opinions; it's an important thing, to criticize, and it's even more important when that criticism seems to come up against opinions so widely held that they're instead deemed as facts. Just like French Baroque music is delightful and violas are less interesting than violins, Mozart is perfect, and the Earth is round, right?*