Thursday, June 30, 2011: Scissors?

You never know what kind of props will be vital for an opera ...

A Good Bad Day at the Opera

When Scissors Did What Farm Machinery Could Not – At the Opera!

It was a warm, summery night although it was not quite summer. It was an almost perfect night to have tickets to the National Theatre’s production of The Elixir of Love, the comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti. Where else to take visitors from the U.S., including no less than a perceptive costume designer for the Shakespeare Festival in Santa Cruz?

When the curtain lifted, we were treated to a pastoral scene complete with a conveyor belt plopping bales of straw onto the floor. “Don’t they know farm equipment is dangerous?” was the first thing that came to my mind. This feeling of foreboding persisted as various members of the cast proceeded to dance and sing atop the moving belt. It sagged ominously beneath the weight of the heavier men.

Who is Adina? The female lead took a little while to identify, even for our costume-designer guest, what with Adina’s petite figure shrewdly disguised in an unremarkable flower print dress, while Giannetta pranced around in a blood red to shame the devil incarnate.

And wouldn’t you know it, but as Giannetta was lying smugly on the moving conveyor belt, she dropped off the end and…couldn’t move. The crimson toreador’s provocation she was wearing got caught in the farm equipment! While Adina’s operatic voice filled the foreground, the cast professionally enveloped the trapped Giannetta. When no amount of tugging would cause the conveyor to relinquish its prize, someone produced a pair of scissors, enabling Giannetta to do a brisk exit, stage left.

A sigh of relief and snickers were exchanged – we won’t see that flaming dress again! -We thought. She will have to return to the stage wearing something more befitting a supporting role and in keeping with the other costumes. Alas, our hopes were dashed when Giannetta flounced back on stage in an identical dress a shade all ripe tomatoes would envy.

And then the performance continued in its utterly amusing and thoroughly enjoyable meander, with and without the splendid imperfections. Ahh, that’s why we love opera! — oo

– Hana Škrdlová

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