mercoledì, aprile 01, 2009

Vivi ancora, io son la vita

Something happened in Berlin. I feel different. Or maybe it's the daylight not needing to be saved anymore - that it's honest-to-goodness high spring now, and light for hours after I'm done busting my balls at work. The Tiergarten had patchy carpets of violets, I suppose they were, and here the leaves are out, the flowers are out, and my tomatilloes are growing gangbusters. I really must remember to plant the cucumber this weekend. Anyways, I feel pretty good, brain-wise.

On Sunday in Berlin I woke up slowly, and amused myself, and then it was time for work. The welcome cocktail. Fuck . . . that. I was in Berlin, man, and having spent the previous evening intoxicating myself I hadn't been to the opera yet. So I gave the welcome cocktail a miss and saw Andrea Chenier. It wasn't unplanned, and I was concerned it could cause trouble with the old corporate ball'n'chain, but since I can't manage to get myself fired via total incompetence, and since it would be an abuse of the Belgian social system to work myself into a public nervous breakdown when I'm pretty sure I can avoid one, my last option in the quest to get sacked is a little light insubordination.

And fuck, was I glad I'd done it. Admittedly I was so fucked from exploring and strong smoke that I nodded off during the scene Andrea was starting off a poem about love and wrapping it up with social indignation. But there's an unadmitted joy to nodding off at the opera that, as long as I can prevent myself from snoring, I have no intention of surrendering. All that beautiful sound entering the deepest recesses of your brain a little more intimately as your consciousness drifts in and out . . . but it was only for a moment as the show was really nicely staged. The costumes alone were worth the price of admission.

The performance was lovely too. The opera has an interesting plot - like a lot of that verismo stuff, there's no real human villain, just a general oppressive social circumstance. There's a sort of villain - Carlo, the servant-turned-revolutionary-tribune - and there's a point in the third act where all the 'villain' is drained out of him when Maddalena sings "La Mamma Morta" at him. It's the moneyshot of the whole opera, and it's a great moneyshot; it doesn't just describe a state of mind, but communicates a state of mind so beautifully that it makes such sense why all Carlo's conflicted villainy just sort of leaks away. And Iano Tamar nailed it.

The Deutsch Oper was strange. Good acoustics and sightlines but the whole thing looked like it was made out of plywood. In fact it was so dimestore-looking that I thought for a moment it must have been on the DDR side, but of course it wasn't. The other two operas were, though. It's funny. I remember when I went in 1997 it was so obvious, even when I had forgotten east and west and where I was, which had been what, and now it really isn't. But I didn't go too far east, and the city remains a big construction site. Covered with really great graffitti. Anyways, time for work again.

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