May 16th, 2008

monkey pirate

Jazz hands! Jazz hands! ....Murder hands?

Last night I went to see "Il Trittico" by Puccini, an opera performed at La Scala Opera House in Italy and broadcast digitally to a theatre in Santa Monica. I went with some folks from my voice class, who gathered before hand for drinks and dinner at Ye Olde King's Head. It was odd to be at a table full of new friends, and realize I was the one who'd been in LA the longest, and hear all of them talk about the very things that tormented me the most at first. My advice? Learn to surf!

So after a few drinks we staggered over to the theatre (I left my opera cape at home, but tuxedo shirt, vest and black velvet blazer was formal enough, I think..) for the show. It was lovely opera, with the few singers who seemed unimpressive at first warming up to some spectacular runs. Having the slightest inkling of technique, and how hard it can be made the good view afforded by the camera very rewarding - but without losing any sound quality. It's really a fine way to see an opera, I recommend it. (Google "la scala opera" and you'll find it.)

Il Trittico is in three separate parts, Il Tabarro (the cloak), Suor Angelica (sister angelica) and Gianni Schicchi. Being a little drunk, we couldn't help but making snarky comments, and moved to an unpopulated part of the theatre so as not to annoy the grayhairs. Il Tabarro is the story of Michele, a barge-owner, and his unfaithful and younger wife. It's very dark, and ... I'm not really ruining anything by saying it ends with a death, as Michele strangles to death Luigi, the laborer that has seduced his wife.

You've all seen jazz hands, right? Well, it turns out there's an operatic anti-thesis to the jazz hands - the murder hands! Just before he strangles Luigi, Michele makes this palms-up, fingers spread gesture, about like what  you'd do if you were holding up a pair of coconuts. As soon as he did it, i said, "jazz hands, jazz hands.. murder hands!" And indeed, he then throttles Luigi, hiding him under his cloak until his wife comes a little closer to check out what he's hiding under there to surprise her. Imagine her disappointment.

So yeah. Murder hands!
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