2.3.06

At the risk of spoiling the plot

(although, really, if this does spoil the plot, you should demand a refund on your education)

The opera "Romeo et Juliette" is based on the Shakespeare play by the amazingly same-sounding name. It's considered a tragedy, and it fits quite nicely in with that whole opera convention of boy-meet-girl, they sing, she dies. (This basic plot structure, by the way, cannot be used to identify the opera, nor does it help to add "and it happened in Italy/France" or "she was sick". Really. You're gonna need a bit more than that.) It does a credible job of the whole "but soft, what light through yonder window breaks" poetry. And, in my opinion, the sets were simply stunning. My companion thought otherwise, probably agreeing with New York and PhillyBurbs.

Anyway, as we were heading "home", I started to wonder if I'd perhaps dozed off during the last couple of acts. I knew that the whole Juliette's bed floating in mid-air scene had thrown me (given my extreme fear of heights), but had I totally blanked on something? See, if I remember the plot correctly, Romeo is exiled. Which means "out of town permanently". So, when Juliette is approached by Friar Lawrence, just prior to her bigamist marriage to Paris, about drinking some faux-poison, Romeo's not around to hear about the plot. Then there's that whole subplot about the Nurse, who's supposed to get the news to Romeo but doesn't and then... well, you should know the rest by now.

Except she doesn't. In this version, the Nurse sings maybe 5 lines in Act 1, and then shuts up the rest of the opera. Over three hours, and barely a note. Let alone the crucial "please tell my secret husband that I'm not really dead" bit. Friar Lawrence isn't roped into this, either. Possibly because he's too busy with his telescope. (and wasn't this set around Galileo's time? just asking)

Which then leads to the question: if Romeo is out of town, how does he hear about Juliette's death and know where to find her supposedly lifeless body? ESP? Fax? His copy of the libretto? And don't tell me he's packing - he's a guy. Guys don't pack that much, even back in whatever-century Verona.

Anyway, I wasn't the only one who apparently missed that bit. Perhaps it was one of those "blink and you'll miss it" arias. Or not. This could have been the Cliff's Notes version.

No comments: