We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold…
Ha, no, just kidding. Despite the essentially gonzo nature of “liveblogging,” I didn’t tank up on pills and powders for “Blog It! Tweet It! Night” at the Madison Opera. Stream-of-consciousness this may be, but it will be an unaltered consciousness.
Apart from an abuse of exclamation points, “Blog It! Tweet It! Night” seems to be what the hip young things are calling a social media campaign: I blog through the dress rehearsal of Don Giovanni (in exchange for free tickets; no bias here sir), and you the readers, enchanted, flock to the Overture Center on opening night, wallets in hand.
Or that’s the theory, anyway. Given that half of you don’t live in Madison, and another third are web-crawling spam-bots, I’m skeptical of the efficacy here. Wish the Madison Opera luck, though; I’d love to keep getting free tickets if this goes well for them.
It’ll also be an interesting experiment in running updates via iPhone, which I’ve never tried before. There is no automatically-updating “liveblog” widget, alas — you’ll have to pretend it’s still the mid-2000s and click “refresh” every few minutes to see the latest, if you’re actually reading this live.
Everyone ready for an evening of beautiful music (that you can’t hear) and a really stupid plot (that I’ll explain in fragments)? Well, too bad, because the curtain doesn’t go up until 7:00 central time, but I’ll try to keep you entertained until then.
Live Updates – Before the Show
4:00 – Extensive grooming rituals. As a writer, only leave the house two or three times a week; might as well make the most of it. Jeff Turk of Fresco Opera Theater also pondering what pants to wear — nice to know I’m not alone.
4:45 – Launching this post and walking to the Overture Center. Probably be dull for the next half-hour unless something really exciting happens on the walk. If you’re interested in some parallel coverage, the Madison Opera website has a list of all the bloggers and tweeters tonight, which includes at least one person I worked with back in my “day job” days. Small world.
5:00 – Test-posting with the iPhone. Fingers crossed. UPDATE: it works. Sweet.
5:15 – Walking over The first few nice days are always the worst for joggers. Slow down, guys; no one is chasing you.
5:30 – Here we all are, tapping away on our phones and avoiding eye contact as we wait for the rest to trickle in. Who says art doesn’t bring people together?
5:40 – starting the tour. Costume shop. Costumes are rented and then altered for the principals. Apparently a light spritzing with vodka is the preferred method of disinfecting, no doubt because it’s always on hand at an opera house…
5:50 – The network here is choking on photo uploads, but our Don Giovanni is convincingly good looking. You’ll have to take my word for it for now.
5:55 – Feel a little bad being underfoot backstage. Nice tour and all, but I’m sure these folks have more important things to do.
6:00 – 12 stagehands for this production. Fun fact: the term “stagehand” comes from old union rules requiring mandatory overtime if they use both hands. Most producers preferred to save the money, hence “stagehand.”
6:05 – That’s not actually true, in case there was any doubt.
6:10 – Opera is apparently genteel enough that the stage manager is expected to call the principals’ cues in their various native languages. Quaint!
6:12 – “Things sometimes collide” – not reassuring to hear when they’re showing you the fly pipes.
6:20 – “I’d better get back to my crew. Grown stagehands are like small children.” Spoken like a true TD.
6:55 – Exiled to the balcony seats above everyone else, no doubt because of our glowing screens. Curtain in five.
Live Updates – Don Giovanni at the Madison Opera
7:00 – All right. Going to try to explain this story to you guys without the help of the program synopsis. They didn’t give us programs anyway. Hang on tight.
7:01 – Overture. Starts with a boom. Conductor is wearing red plaid. Someone didn’t get the “dress” part of the “dress rehearsal” memo!
7:07 – Curtain up. Meet Leporello. He’s keeping watch while his master dallies with a lady. He’s unhappy in his work, which might explain why he’s bellowing an aria at the top of his lungs while everyone’s trying to be sneaky.
7:11 – Enter Don Giovanni, or rather exit – out of a lady’s window and onstage. Apparently he’s not as good with ladies as we’ve been led to believe; she’s furious and her father tries to kill the Don.
7:13 – Il Commendatore (the father) bites the big one in a duel with DG. Possibly the fastest I’ve ever seen an opera start the body count.
7:18 – Creepy offer from the lady’s boyfriend: “Let me me father and husband both.” Ew.
7:22 – Not sure why the backdrop is a giant Georgia O’Keefe flower. Madison Opera does the strangest sets. (In fairness, it’s a rental.)
7:23 – Enter a new lady, on the trail of the lover who abandoned her. Apparently she just goes around asking strangers on the street where he went, which seems a little stalkery. Maybe the problem isn’t DG so much as his taste in ladies?
7:25 – Oh, never mind. Leporello tells us there’ve been about 1,800. Bound to be some crazies in there, statistically speaking.
7:27 – Yep, turns out she’s a DG ex. Donna Elvira. Clingy sort.
7:29 – Leporello is bad at cheering women up.
7:31 – Also not a great friend or servant to DG.
7:34 – Gratuitous hip-thrusting.
7:39 – Class tensions. Somewhat spoiled by costuming; our peasants are almost as well-dressed as the Don. Georgia O’Keefe flower is purple now.
7:43 – In the Don’s defense, every lady we’ve seen so far has been really bad at saying no.
7:44 – Cockblocked by Donna Elvira!
7:48 – Re-enter our first lady, Donna Anna, and her drippy boyfriend. Some sort of revenge plot is afoot. Hard not to root for the Don, though.
7:53 – Ok, Donna Anna’s description of the first scene’s offstage encounter is pretty rapey. Also kinda detailed, with lots of clutching and writhing. Drippy boyfriend could maybe show a little more emotion about all this.
8:01 – Side plot with Masetto and Zerlina, the abusive relationship poster children. Aria: “Beat me, beat me, my Masetto.”
8:05 – It’s cool, though, she seems to be in charge of things. Some serious topping from the bottom going on here.
8:07 – The Don throws pretty good parties.
8:11 – Enter the Donnas and the drip in disguise. It’s a standing rule of opera that a masquerade mask renders you completely unrecognizable, of course.
8:20: Thirty seconds offstage with the Don and Zerlina’s already tied to the bed. And yet he’s the one who ends up bound and punished…like I said, topping from the bottom. Atta girl Zerlina.
8:23 – Interval. Score at halftime: 1 murder, 2 attempted rapes, and 0 healthy relationships.
8:45 – Curtain back up. Leporello and DG on the run from a mob.
8:46 – Conductor calls for a reset! The thrill of dress rehearsal.
8:48 – “To be faithful to one is cruel to all the others.” The Don knows how it is.
8:51 – DG and Leporello switch costumes for no apparent reason. Maybe in case Donna Elvira throws a flowerpot at him while they flirt at her from under her balcony? The Don’s still the one doing the talking/singing.
8:54 – A particularly silly costume change given the sizes of our principals. DG’s tailcoat looks like a sports jacket on our Leporello. Lanky fellow.
8:56 – Oh, now it all makes sense. He sent Leporello, disguised as him, off to get all cuddly with the clingy Donna while he works on the other one. So not totally pointless. Multitasking!
9:00 – DG beats up Masetto; Zerlina promptly goes all sexy nurse on him. Damn girl.
9:05 – I don’t think the script calls for that pimp hat, but Leporello’s rocking it.
9:06 – Drippy drip is still a drip.
9:10 – Leporello gives the game away after less than 15 minutes. He’s really not good at anything, is he?
9:11 – Zerlina starts whipping Leporello with her shawl. JUST CUZ.
9:17 Drippy drip sings for a while. I guess Mozart felt sorry for the part and threw the tenor a bone.
9:19 – It’s apparently now a requirement that sopranos sing their most plaintive arias somewhere between prone and kneeling, just to prove that they’re not “plant and sing” sopranos. In fairness, our Donna Elviria really can act, and she’s killing her numbers, but it’s definitely a thing these days.
9.25 – A ghostly voice from offstage kills the orchestra. Whoops. They’re sorting it out. Also, enter the giant mounted statue of the Commendatore (d’you remember the Commentadore?).
9:28 – Mozart’s lesson here seems to be that you can rape and murder all you like, but don’t make your servant taunt statues. That’s going too far.
9:32 – Apparently Donna Anna won’t let the drippy tenor have a sniff ’til he punishes DG for her. Frankly, she’d do better getting Zerlina in on the action.
9:42 – Mozart samples his own tunes. In-jokey. Nice.
9:45 – Donna Elviria reappears. At this point she seems to be suffering from full-blown Stockholm syndrome.
9:47 – The statue comes to dinner. In fairness, it was invited.
9:48 – Lots of dry ice fog and a very visible fan/nozzle. Whoops. Apparently the Commendatore’s tomb was underwritten by Maytag.
9:50 – But yeah, don’t invite people to supper if you really don’t want them to come. Or accept their invitations if you don’t want to go. Especially if they live in Hell.
9:51 – There was really no reason for the Don to tear his shirt off there, but we’re not complaining.
9:53 – You know, given how much bunk he’s fed them on his master’s behalf so far, everyone is surprisingly willing to buy Leporello’s “I saw a dead man drag him away to Hell” line. The Don shoulda used that one sooner.
9:59 – And that’s curtain. 3 hours even, and I hope you enjoyed it! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I saw a cute girl down in the mezzanine seats, and I’d like to see if I can catch her in the lobby…