This entry is dedicated to all those who find it difficult to sit through an opera. I joined the club last night. My first experience in a European opera house was memorable on many levels.
Level #1: As most of you know by now, Nice is a coastal town and temperatures here are currently averaging about 85 degrees. Nice, right? Not bad IF you have air-conditioning. I have thus far managed without air-conditioning, always sleeping with the doors to my balcony wide open and such. But an opera house without air-conditioning? Maybe it would have been okay if I hadn't been in the 4th balcony student section, but honestly it was STIFLING! Not to mention that the mixture of body odors from all the people around me blended into a deliciously nauseating aroma. I had to leave for a bit during the 3rd act because I was going to be sick. Really.
Level #2: Wasn't really into the acoustics. The sound seemed to be stuck in the bottom of the house and I was not there. It did seem to get better throughout the evening, though, so maybe it was just the poor singing. I honestly couldn't hear the lead soprano, Abigail, for the first 2 acts.
Level #3: Here's where it gets AMAZING!!! The audience was fantastic. Nabucco has a famous chorus section in the 3rd act that really is breathtakingly beautiful. And people in the audience actually knew it well enough that a few were humming along. When the choruse finished, they broke out into wild applause and kept shouting "Plus!" again and again. "More!" After about 3 minutes of continual applause and shouting, the conductor acquiesced and they repeated the whole chorus! After the 2nd time through, everyone began clapping in unison and getting louder and louder. Finally the conductor had to turn around, thank the audience, and cut them off so that the opera could continue. I've never seen anything like it at an opera in the U.S.
Level #4: Nabucco really has some breathtakingly beautiful music. There is an unimaginably beautiful cello solo before an aria in Act 3 that was my favorite part of the opera.
Level #5: While none of the singers were overwhelmingly captivating, I don't think I've ever heard a more sincere, musical performance. It seemed like a raw performance. Real music that meant something. Cool.
And that was my experience at the opera. Despite the miserable conditions which make an opera difficult to endure, it was a positive experience. And definitely one that I won't forget.