If opera characters went to the opera

If opera characters went to the opera

Jenna Simeonov
It's time for some beautifully nerdy, utterly hypothetical, and completely meta musings. Sure, the next few paragraphs won't really contain any practically useful information, but it's hard to stop me once I've gotten on the character-deconstruction-train that is dramaturgy. It's my favourite pastime, and now I'm sharing it with you. I present to you all the following hypothetical: if opera characters went to the opera, what would they see?

1. Manon

Oddly, thinking of Manon at an opera was what got me on the topic to begin with. I figure that Manon would want to see something that glamourizes life and life’s difficult decisions. She’d probably just die for the chance to see Tosca; Manon would find fabulous common ground with the fellow diva who fights for her man. I bet Manon would love herself a good La traviata, too; her Gavotte is a fair comparison to Violetta’s “Sempre libera”, after all. Oh, and Berg’s Lulu.

2. Papageno

How cute would he be, flitting around from usher to usher, trying to find his seat? He’d probably jump at tickets for Hänsel und Gretel, what with all the food and magic (hopefully we caught the Met’s 2008 production with the tongue-house and the big-headed chefs!). If he’s feeling melancholy, which sometimes happens, I bet Papageno would love Rusalka; he’d empathize with her non-human status and her quest for true love. I picture him drying his eyes with his feathers.

3. Suzuki

Wise, loving, and probably charmingly conservative, Suzuki would probably only treat herself to one opera a year. I bet it would be Dialogues des Carmélites. Sounds weird, but if anyone understands faith, hope, and honour, it would be Suzuki. I think she’d find something to love about most of the women in the opera, save for Sister Blanche (Suzuki and I have that in common). Although Dialogues doesn’t offer up a happy ending that someone like Suzuki might crave, at least there are some rationally thinking women involved. Sorry, Cio-Cio San.

4. Werther

Easy. He’d be curled up in a partially obstructed seat for Eugene Onegin, where he could wrestle with the idea that Onegin’s torment just may be greater than his own. (Sondheim, anyone?) For catharsis, there’s always Otello or Peter Grimes to remind Werther he shouldn’t trust anyone ever. I want to say that, on his good days, Werther would go and see La bohème, because of the poet factor, but I’m sure it would send him into a spiral of despair that can’t even be described by the most compound of German words.

5. Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni, natch. Sociopathic narcissist, anyone? Maybe Falstaff for a laugh, because Giovanni could still dream of growing up to be Sir John.

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