A few weeks ago it was La Bohème, and in two more weeks it’s Pirates of Penzance. The reason I’m so familiar with the Vancouver Opera productions is not just because of their amped up marketing initiatives, but because I made it my mission to catch as many of the 2012-2012 presentations as possible, being that I turn 30 this coming year and the Opera Under Thirty program would no longer be applicable for my old self.
Get OUT is an amazing incentive for younger people to come and enjoy the opera – in quite good seats, I might add – for an extremely affordable $30 price tag. But to my surprised delight, I discovered when purchasing tickets for La Bohème that the VO has switched things up and extended the age for what they consider to be ‘young.’ Thank goodness! Now if you’re 35 or under you can attend the opera for $35 – which is exactly what myself and 3 girlfriends did recently.
Nothing feels better than strolling around the magnificent Queen Elizabeth Theatre and and being stopped by numerous ladies who tell you how beautiful you look. These are the kinds of older women who you just know have amazing stories up their sleeves, they still put their party dresses and makeup on even at age 85, they command curiosity and respect.
My expectations for La Bohème, “the world’s most popular love story,” were high. The quality of the production was, in my view, amazing. I didn’t lose interest at all, but perhaps that’s because I was so infuriated with the plot! Here is where I found irony and humour in being a young, contemporary, capable woman: I couldn’t buy this as a love story. Both pairs of couples in La Bohème undermine, abandon, and take eachother for granted every step of the way. Mimi and Rodolfo fall in lust for a very few months; when she becomes more ill, he accuses her of being unfaithful, a ruse which is meant to cover up his own inability to deal with her imminent death, his fear of supporting and loving her through that process. They agree they should not be together, but decide to wait until the spring to separate because it’s just too cold to be alone in winter.
The ending is no better. On her deathbed, Mimi complains of cold hands, and Musetta goes to buy her a fur muff to give her that last moment of warmth and comfort. But alas, who takes the credit for this generous, thoughtful gift? Rodolfo! Sneaky bugger.
Have romantic comedies ruined me forever?
The point is, the stories we see on stage may appear to the opera newcomer as outdated and stuffy, but the experience has always sparked conversation, appreciation and maybe even a little bit of debate among my friends. I encourage anyone under the age of 35 to take advantage of these great prices. The Pirates of Penzance will be my first comedic opera, and I’m quite looking forward to whatever that means. For OUT tickets, keep an eye on the VO blog or their Facebook page for the discount ticket code, which is usually released two weeks before the production begins.
And please – don’t forget your ballgown, this is not a pants affair!