Philadelphia hosts beautiful operas at The Academy of Music and since moving here two years ago, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing top rate productions of La Traviata and Turandot. Last week, I had the opportunity to see The Marriage of Figaro, a beloved screwball comedy by Mozart. I make no claims to be an opera connoisseur. I’m simply a fan. And this was a terrific production with strong lead vocals and a cool set (that’s about the limit of my technical critique). I went with a friend and admittedly bought terrible seats. I spent the bulk of the evening cocking my head to the left to try and read the translation because a giant pole obstructed my view. I could see the first few words alright, but the last two or three words were a problem. I probably should have taken that limited view waiver more seriously.
The real challenge was sitting nearly two hours in tiny seats waiting for the intermission. The Marriage of Figaro is a four act opera but this production only had one 20 minute intermission. An hour in and the audience was already getting restless. By the time the intermission rolled around, we were borderline miserable with sensory overload and stiff knees. We decided to stretch our legs in the hall and I’ll be honest, I wanted to leave and I could sense my friend had also had enough. The thing is, nobody wants to be the first to admit they want to leave the opera halfway through, lest they seem uncultured or ungrateful. What followed was a good five minutes of back and forth “Do you want to leave? I love it, but if you want to go…” Finally the lights flickered signaling the second half was starting and we should return to our seats. Thats when I made the executive decision to get us the hell out of there.
I enjoy the opera, I really do. I love the drama and the period costumes and the romanticism. I delight in seeing the same operas that have entertained kings and queens for centuries. But, I’m only human. And I don’t care how incredible the production or how beloved the story, and how melodic and striking the singing, a person needs a break after 40 minutes. And before you accuse me of being uncultured, I know what Rosebud means.