At first, going to the opera in 2016 felt like going to a Nickelback concert, well, any time after 2005. Presented with the opportunity to get two free tickets to Die Tote Stadt, a German opera currently playing at the Jubilee, my initial pique in interest can be mostly attributed to the sheer randomness of the idea, as well as their use of the word “free.” Still, it was enough to prompt me to “just do it”, “seize the day”, or some equivalent German proverb, and this is how I found myself posting the following status on my Facebook page:
If I am being honest (an honesty that, of course, excludes my link to a disappointingly non-existent webpage), I did have a specific person in mind when I was writing this post. Some part of me held out hope that said person would notice me soliciting companionship to a show in which all of the dialogue is sung in German and think, “That is exactly where I want to be on Saturday night.” Where did I get these unrealistic expectations of reality? I blame Disney.
And while these hopes were never validated, I did get several responses to my Facebook advertisement; I had managed to find an opera buddy without the help of operabuddies.com! (Which, again, is not a real site. Sorry to get your hopes up like that.) When the two of us arrived at the Jubilee the next day, sporting heels and formal wear, I couldn’t decide whether we were overdressed, underdressed, or simply not sporting enough feathered hats and theatre binoculars to fit in with the aging opera-going population. But as we found our way to our seats, I spotted several audience members who appeared to be under the age of 30, some who were even younger than my friend and I. There were even a handful of women wearing… pants! Yes, pants! To the opera!
Just before the show began, it was announced that the granddaughter of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, creator of Die Tote Stadt, was watching in the audience that evening. Many patrons chose to find and chat with her at intermission or after the show, but I vowed to find her later on Tinder. At the opening of the first act, my friend and I were surprised to discover English subtitles, which were projected above the stage. Having mentally prepared myself for three hours of having no idea what was happening, this was a total game-changer.
When the lights came up for intermission, neither of us quite knew what to say; there was no mistaking the immense talent and resources that had gone into the production, and the storyline itself was quite engaging, its music captivating. But how do two teenagers with no background knowledge on the subject speak about an opera without sounding totally ignorant? So, we avoided mis-using any fancy terms and lingo, trying not to sound as malapropic in that theatre as we did in our English exam, and instead made predictions about which characters we thought would die in the last half of the show.
In what seemed to be the middle of the second act of the show, the lights went up, and all of the women in the audience dashed off toward the only set of washrooms. It was at this moment that my friend and I discovered that intermissions are not always isolated incidents, and that what I had assumed was a two-act opera was in fact three full acts long.
When the opera finished at 11:00 pm, we still had an hour’s drive back to Okotoks, so we did what any two sane people would do; we hit Peter’s Drive-In. And I know that the whole point of this post was to talk about how cool the opera is (and, seriously, you should really go see one), but I feel like it’s important that I take a second to talk about what kind of milkshakes we got. You’ll never see me post any sort of “look book” on here, so this is basically as good as it gets. Call it my “milkshake of the day” or something. After three hours of German opera music, I was feeling pretty adventurous, so I opted for the flavour combination orange-vanilla-marshmallow. This was a high-risk choice, even by $5 milkshake standards, but it ended up paying off. My friend ordered a mint-oreo milkshake, which I am told is a classic, but I simply must condemn it on account of my being opposed to mint-chocolate combinations on moral grounds.
^This is what happens when I try to write a blog post when I’m tired: I complain about how Disney wrecked me for real life, and end with an entire paragraph on milkshake flavours. If you got anything out of it, though, hopefully it’s the importance of incorporating milkshakes into a balanced diet and not that the opera is an under-appreciated art form, although the latter is equally valid.
So thanks for reading.