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Mrs. Joad at the opera

September 30, 2008

This post is part of an informal, unnumbered series of recession-beating activities anyone can enjoy at home. Variation is the name of the theme. With spirited resourcefulness, we can outrun the dragnet of Secretary Paulson’s insistence on hard and dreadful times among us.

I picked up an announcement from the Early Music Guild when we were in Seattle on Saturday.  The EMG is bringing an Italian opera company, complete with 30-piece Baroque instrument ensemble, from Italy to Seattle, for three performances of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo.

Until I saw the announcement, I hadn’t thought of how much I would enjoy seeing one of the earliest Italian operas, especially with historical instruments. Early music is one of my lifelong passions. Suddenly, I really, really wanted to see this opera.

The tickets were a little through the ceiling: $90, $70, and $40 apiece; $40 gets you a seat in the middle or rear balcony. If you’re a regular opera-goer salivating at the bargain, you need to realize that the normal extent of our participation in the culture scene is a $4.00 matinee at the Blue Mouse.

I magnetized the announcement to my bulletin board as an aspiration. The performance is in February; maybe we could save up for balcony tickets. I just found a source of our favorite espresso blend by the case, so that my luxury coffee habit now costs $0.06 a cup. I could bring my own coffee on road trips instead of stopping at a McCafe. That would save about $2.12 per road trip. But forty road trips between now and February seemed doubtful.

I found L’Orfeo on DVD at the library. This performance I can attend. I will wear my antique Venetian glass beads with my best T-shirt, and sip a smooth homemade espresso from my Depression-era Franciscan cup. I will have a grand time at the opera, in our glitzless lavender den. The production on my laptop will be as close to lifesize as the rear balcony, and it will be free. The production even has sub-titles. Best of all, my Cat can sit with me. But then, he might not; I’m not sure how he feels about Monteverdi. He was transfixed by The Silver Chair, but would not remain in the room during The Winds of War. There is no accounting for his tastes.

Orfeo broke the heart of Hades, and won his wife, Eurydice, a pass from the underworld back to life. But unable to follow a simple directive not to look back, he lost her forever.

Cheerless and maudlin, the Greeks bequeathed their idols to the Renaissance. Content and objective, I’m in this one for the sackbutts.

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2 Comments
  1. Laura permalink
    September 30, 2008 10:49 am

    $.06 a cup?!?! Where and what brand??? I thought my $.25/cup of Trader Joe’s was low… Nice find at the library, too. I much prefer the opera at home: no chance of dealing with the overwhelming sum of six superfluously applied perfumes on the ladies sitting around you.

  2. September 30, 2008 11:20 am

    I’ll email you the link for the coffee; they don’t pay me enough to advertise. :)

    Yup, all the operas I see are library-issue DVDs. The price is right, the fragrance-free environment is definitely a boon, my omnipresent sneakers fit right in, and I don’t have to hide my water bottle from the usher.

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