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Sunday, October 14, 2007

What's Opera, Doc?

Well, it was an interesting weekend to say the least.

Spent all day Friday Guest Slogging, which turned out to be quite a bit more work than I expected. Granted, The Stranger editorial staff probably gets a lot of source material sent in their direction by politicians, bureaucrats, in the form of press releases and whatnot, so they don't have to actively troll for news and posting ideas as much as I, and apparently my fellow GS's did. But, additionally, there's a tremendous amount of self-inflicted pressure to deliver interesting, topical, amusing, comment-worthy fare. I think we all did a pretty good job of things, given those conditions, but I noted a definite "petering out" towards the end of the day. Anyway, if you're interested in reading the sordid details, and the inevitable armchair criticism from the commenters, you can read all about it here (Just look under the section for Friday, October 12, 2007).

Friday night was of course, Opening Night for The Show, which by all accounts went swimmingly; a fairly full house, one reviewer in attendance, and lots of laughter, from what I could hear. I didn't actually see it until Saturday night, since right before curtain I was roped into helping prep for the after-show party.

David, our web master, came in Saturday to shoot some production photos, and asked me if I would be interested in attending the Sunday matinee performance of Seattle Opera's Iphegenia In Taurus; his wife wasn't feeling well, and he was looking to unload the seats. Generally, I'm not big on opera, for pretty much the same reason most people aren't. I don't have a classical music background, my knowledge of opera being limited to a handful of real-life experiences (and multiple exposures to old Warner Bro's cartoons) that have been well - boring, and encompassed just about every negative stereotype one can think of; large people standing around gesturing and bellowing in incomprehensible foreign tongues, while not much else happens. But, by the same token I do think it's important to broaden ones cultural experiences, and what the heck, it was a freebie. So, I said, "sure, I'll go."

(Ironically, I got a call this morning from my friend Colleen, who sings in the Seattle Symphony Chorale, offering me a half-price ticket to their matinee of Mozart's "Requiem" - odd that the only two offers I've received to attend classical events in ages would both come on the same day!)

A little later, I got another phone call, this time from my mom: "What are you doing today?"

"Um, I'm going to the opera this afternoon, why?"

"Well, your grandmother, and Aunt Laura and Uncle Gary are in town - "

"You mean, now?"

"They just got here a few minutes ago!"

"Okay, well I don't have to be there until 1:30, so I'll come on over now."

(Keep in mind, I later found out she'd heard from her sister on Friday that they were coming up; that's my mom.)

So, had a pleasant, albeit brief visit with some of the fams today, however, it did turn a little surreal towards the end, when they decided they wanted to go out and get something for lunch. Now, understand, these are not sophisticated urbanites we're talking about here. They're not stupid by any stretch, don't get me wrong; they're just regular, "average joe and jane" salt-of-the-earth types. That being said, they are nevertheless small-town folk, who don't venture up to "the big city" all that frequently (Portland is closer to their neck of the woods anyway), and among other things their culinary tastes tend toward the - how shall I say it - heart-clogging.

We're talking mid-western "meat and potatoes" type people here, whose idea of "exotic cuisine" is American-style Chinese food. To be fair, they're also game-eaters, so regular servings of deer, elk, moose - and occasionally even bear - might seem somewhat "out there" to even hoity-toity epicureans.

Anyway, the guys (my uncle and my mom's husband) decided they wanted to go somewhere that football was on. Okay, no problem. We're smack in the middle of South Lake Union, and there are any number of places nearby that would fit the bill. But, my uncle, who has been to Seattle on numerous occasions when he worked in the construction industry, only knew of one place in the neighborhood, and in the interests of both expediency, location, and access to large-screen NFL, it was decided we would dine - at Hooters.

I kid you not, before attending an afternoon of classical lyric theatre, I sat with my mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle and stepfather (I guess technically, that's the proper term) at Hooters, where their motto is: "Delightfully Tacky, Yet Unrefined".

Now, I've never set foot in the place before - I've really never had the urge or even the mildest sense of curiosity about the place, and I figure I'd already been given all the information I needed to know about it, just from what I'd seen and heard in the media. So, needless to say, my expectation going in was pretty low; and I think I can say in all honesty that I wasn't disappointed. Granted, the famous low-cut tank tops and push-up bras were eschewed in favor of more standard loose-fitting sports jerseys, but the tight orange hot-pants-and-hose combo was well in evidence, as was the teeth-clenching "peppiness" or whatever they call it, wherein every waitress seems to have been rigorously trained by Moon-Unit Zappa in proper "valley girl" speak, circa 1982.

And of course, it being Sunday, the place was packed wall-to-wall, mostly with jersey-clad males, a smattering of women who were presumably good-natured spouses or girlfriends, and surprisingly, about a dozen kids, most of whom appeared to have been dragged in by Single Dads With Weekend Custody, based on the noticeable absence of adult females in their parties.

(Seriously guys, you get the kids every other weekend, and not only can you not tear yourself away from that Packers-Redskins game to, like, take them to the zoo or the park or something, but you have to bring them to HOOTERS?!? And I'll bet you're still trying to figure out why the "little lady" became disenchanted with marital bliss.)

Oh, and as for the food, well, all I can say is Hooter's other motto should be something along the lines of: "If It Ain't Deep-Fried - We Don't Serve It!" Deep-fried pickles, deep-fried chicken wings, deep-fried shrimp, French fries, onion rings - even the ham-and-cheese sandwich my aunt ordered looked like the meat had spent at least a few seconds immersed in hot oil.

Fortunately, I had begged off ordering food, since I'd eaten breakfast only a couple of hours prior. Good call on my part; after just a couple of prefunctary nibbles at some of the glistening, grease-laden fare, my stomach winced in protest.

So, when 1:15 p.m. rolled around, I made my exit, gave my mom and grams a hug, was refused a handshake from my uncle on the (quite reasonable) excuse that his hands were slathered in buffalo-wing juice, and dashed in the direction of Little Nellie, having thus survived my first - and I hope only - excursion into Hootersville.

After that, even sitting through a 2 and a half-hour opera sung in French seemed like a piece of cake by comparison.

And actually, it wasn't half-bad. In fact, I'd say it was pretty good, given my abject lack of experience with opera. The leads sang well; the music was actually quite lush, even romantic, for a piece with such a decidedly dark tone; the set was gorgeous (the production is being co-produced by New York's Metropolitan Opera, where it will be staged after the Seattle run); and noted theatrical director Stephen Wadsworth's staging made the piece a lot more active than it probably would be under normal circumstances, since frankly, there's really not much in the way of story or action (David joked at intermission: "I guess the car chase happens in the second half!"). Heck, I even knew a couple of actors in the company!

So, all-in-all, a pretty wacky weekend, one I'm quite certain won't be repeated for a long, long, long time.

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Posted byCOMTE on 10:03 PM

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