Risky Opera

I’ve been reading a biography of Mozart lately and I discovered a lot of interesting facts. For example, Mozart sometimes didn’t write some piano parts for his concertos and would improvise them “on the fly” during the performance. For people who are in the know, I am talking about the cadenza, which is the moment where the soloist shows off his skills and plays by himself for a period of time. At that moment the orchestra is silent and all eyes are on the man at the keyboard. The feat is even more incredible when we know at what height the compositions of Mozart stand.

If I ever write again about dear old Mozart, I’ll pass along a few more nuggets of trivia about him.

But, today’s blog is about opera, as stated in the title. In the biography, the author writes about Mozart’s love for that art form, and that most of the way he phrased a melody in any instrument was related to the way singers go about an Aria (an aria is a song in an Opera).

As I was digging deeper and deeper into the book, I watched a few famous Operas: Figaro, Don Giovanni, The abduction from the seraglio. Oh my! Did you know what kind of entertainment we are talking about here? This is very racy stuff. Do you wonder, for example what the word “seraglio” means? It’s a harem, a place where a sultan keeps his women (could be his wives, his mistresses, his lovers, etc. But it is for sexual purpose). In this particular situation a Sultan is trying to seduce one of his new comers who barely escaped from a sinking ship. But wait! Before you think of that Sultan as an evil man, there are a few things to consider. First off, he never forces himself on his captive. And second he’s deeply in love with the lady. But she’s captive and cannot escape, and he won’t allow anyone else to try to approach her. So, is he good? Is he bad? Adult stuff!

Should I even talk about Don Giovanni? The name says it all, doesn’t it? A seducer, a depraved man (and I’m not a prude), a despicable human being toying with lives and hearts during the whole performance. We are far from Disney, let me tell you.

As for Figaro it is a dizzying array of love intercrossing each other in a frenzy that’s starts at minute 1 and goes on for three hours!

You think I am pushing it? Mozart, after all, is on every CD and playlist intended for pregnant women and babies. Go see for yourself then. But I warned you: you might be shocked.

I dug a little more. Apparently a lot of Operas are on the same vein. Murders, forbidden unions, cheating and many other things I can’t even mentioned because they are illegal in 50 states are run of the mill entertainment, some as dramas, some as comedies! They spend millions on these productions, people who wears the most beautiful attires flock to see them, the price of a ticket will cost you 2 months rent. What is going on here?!

What is going on is simple. Before there was censorship and ratings, composers and story tellers had to grab and retain their audience attention. They used ingredients that are parts of human nature and emphasized the outrageous. Anyway, should you ever want to to get a plate full of beauty and scandal in one evening, go to an opera house. You won’t forget it!