I went to the theater, oh sorry, I mean the theaaahhtehr the other day with the gf. It was some Faust-themed Opera in the old Marinskiy theater. Tickets were pricey and sold out quick. We felt pretty good about snagging some, and about the whole cultural evening we had planned.
Naturally, I fell asleep for about a solid hour of the 3.5-hour performance. When I came to, they were still singing and cavorting around the stage, and I felt like I didn’t miss much. I had lost track of the performance about halfway through because they were singing in French the whole time and the translation was too small to make out without the binoculars. Like a trooper, I spent the first half-hour flicking between the yellow text through the glasses and then back to the stage. I didn’t last long though. She was a bit cross with me at first, but let it slide when I caught her taking a little snooze (when she thought I wasn’t looking) after the first break.
Everything is so deadly serious nowadays. Worse, the form is still there, but there is no discernable function to all this cultural stuff anymore. And I’m talking about the realfunction of all these social мероприятия. That’s all gone now.
See, I get the feeling that no one ever really gave a damn about the opera except a few gifted connoisseurs, the people who wrote the plays, and presumably the actors themselves. Theater simply fulfilled a societal function and the actors on the stage were peripheries to the main show.
Remember the opera scene in War and Peace where the Rostov family visits the opera, and Natasha gets aggressively courted by Kuragin, the dashing, but sadistic young officer? Of course you do, what young man hasn’t read the 1000+ page Tolstoy novel in his spare time? You clearly get the reference, but I’ll explain it just in case to the few uncultured drifters that may have stumbled onto AltRight.com by accident.
See, they’re at the opera and there’s a show going on somewhere in the background presumably, but the scene is all about Natasha and Kuragin’s flirting match. And when you read about how theater used to be done back in the good old days, it seems that people would spend the time drinking, flirting, and occasionally heckling the actors – which means a good time was had by all.
But not anymore.
Now, it’s art don’cha know. And it has to be taken with deadly seriousness. You have to pretend to be really into it, really appreciative of the actor’s voices, and really into the over-acted love drama between the fat woman and the male lead.
Back when we were blessed with a bit more vitality, virility and life-affirming flippantness towards these sorts of things, these little shows served a far more important function. It was a chance to have an intense sexually-charged staring match with the beautiful young governer’s daughter out in her brand new evening gown. Seriously, it was a chance for the young girls to put on nice dresses, the young men to put on their uniforms and for the ancient courtship dance to flourish under socially acceptable circumstances.
Nowadays, having a bunch of balding geezers sitting with their old frumpy wives, wearing a simple button-down shirt or just a sweater and a blazer, with her at least in something resembling a dress doesn’t quite cut it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The Russians are better about putting more effort into dressing up than all the foreigners. It could just be the fact that tourists don’t bring a lot of luggage, or the fact that its a much more expensive and therefore important evening for Russians when they go out to the theater. But it still falls a bit flat.
Not only that, but none of us really get whats happening on stage. And I say this as a guy with solidly middle-brow tastes.
I’ve read up on my art history. I know about the revolutionary innovations that Mozart brought to the opera. I’ve done critical analyses of The Magic Flute and its Enlightenment themes for class before. I’ve watched Amadeus while I was traveling in Salzburg, eating “Mozart” chocolates and drinking Punsch I bought at the Christmas market