songs

Since I finished work FOREVER on Tuesday I’ve been so busy, who would have thought unemployment would mean never being home. Of course this is because James is still here for a few more days before he leaves Afghanistan. James is infinitely more social and active than I am, so we have been catching up with friends a lot. Also, he got us tickets for Everclear on Wednesday, and Madama Butterfly on Thursday. We agreed that there was probably not a huge amount of overlap in the audiences between the two concerts.

Everclear was James’ favourite band when he was a teenager, whereas I had never heard of them. We did wonder before we got into the venue if we would be feeling particularly old and out of place, but of course everyone there was our age, except the singer who looked positively geriatric. I wore earplugs, did not know any of the songs, and was content to mostly watch James watch them:
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Although for one of the encores at the end they played the one song I knew (because it was on the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack) and I found myself quite excited.

Now I want to find a festival/concert where they play 90s rock. Blink 182 and Foo Fighters must still be touring, right? They played Everlong at the intermission and I got ever so nostalgic.

Last night we went to the Melbourne Arts Centre to see Madama Butterfly. I have been to a couple of comedic operas and plenty of Chinese opera, but by some incredible 32-year oversight, I had never been to a tragic opera. I am hopelessly, exaggeratedly moved by sad stories set to sad music, without any qualitative discernment between tacky commercials or great artistic works. At least crying my way through an opera is less embarrassing than crying my way through a Levi’s or Qantas ad.

I thought the costumes and the set were just so beautiful. The set designer Peter England has some photos here, including this one:

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Without having seen other performances of Madama Butterfly to compare it to, I did find Hiromi Omura’s Butterfly adorable, full of personality and quirks which made me feel her pain so much more. I wasn’t particularly stirred during the first act, but began tearing up during “One Fine Day” (although it is very moving music, who wouldn’t get a little catch in the throat?), but when she hears that Pinkerton is returning and orders for all the flowers in the garden to be brought into the house — Suzuki warning “But the trees will appear desolate as winter” — I broke down crying and the tears pretty much didn’t stop until the end.

I know it wasn’t the most perfect production ever, and James voiced several very valid criticisms after the show, but I feel that in order to really appreciate it, I’d like to read it in Italian (with an English or French translation side by side) and then go back and watch it again. Just as I mentioned here, I want to really feel and understand each word instead of one in twenty (sidenote: James and I were at our favourite restaurant Entrecôte on Tuesday and a group of Italians were sitting nearby. I have never claimed to be very good at listening to Italian, although I can read it moderately well. However on this occasion the only word I understood the entire time was cazzo… fail.). I shouldn’t really allow myself to get distracted from all the other things I need to do, but then again… I’m unemployed! Surely now is the best time to partially memorise an opera in Italian?

I was also quite dismayed (although with hindsight, not terribly surprised) to recognise throughout Puccini’s music… many strands that had been cribbed and stolen by the writers of Les Miserables! I’m sure if I was more familiar with opera and classical music I would have encountered other instances of this thievery before, but I was surprised nonetheless.

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