I have COVID. Blech. But I’m looking at it as my opportunity to finish this silly alphabet thing.
S is for Serpents, as in Taking Up Serpents, which is a one-act opera that I saw this summer. It was my favorite of all the operas I saw.
I went to three shows at the Glimmerglass Festival this summer, my first time ever going there.
First, I saw The Sound of Music, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is musical theater, not opera. It was amazing.
Next I saw their Double Bill, two one-act operas: Taking Up Serpents and Holy Ground. I’ll get back to this one.
Last I saw Carmen. Their live orchestra playing that prelude?! Amazing. I was in love — until the story started. Then I was confused, irritated, more confused, and, like, what-the-heck-is-going-on. At intermission, I asked my daughter who was working at the opera if it was supposed to be a comedy. She laughed and said, no, that it’s supposed to be a tragedy. The tragic part was how shallow and insipid the characters were. I wanted Don Josè to get a backbone and show a little moral fortitude. I wanted Escamillo to be more than a pretty boy who strutted across the stage in his bullfighter outfit. Maybe I’m not an opera person.
But maybe I am.
I saw Serpents twice. The first time I was quite taken aback but also awed. The second time, I took copious notes. The lyrics were full of imagery that drew me in — singing about moths being attracted to the light in the opening song. My scribbled notes won’t do it justice, but here’s part of what Kayla sang:
This parking lot’s a graveyard…
Same moths are drunk again on lamplight…
They know not what they do, Lord…
They keep going round and round and round…
A calling to be drawn like that to something you can never touch…
They’re longing for the light.
Kayla’s longing became a theme.
Light. Mystery. Brokenness. All were themes in a heavy opera that spoke volumes to me.
like love Serpents.
In case you’re wondering about Holy Ground, I think it was meant to be a counterpoint to Serpents. I can’t really comment much on it. The music was amazing. The costumes were amazing. The story was, hmm, I don’t know. I closed my eyes to enjoy the music and fell asleep the first time I went to the show. The second time, I didn’t even stay.
On to what I don’t like that begins with S. I don’t like being sick. See paragraph #1.