I Throw Like a Girl

Un Ballo in Maschera or Carol Goes to the Opera

Posted by Carol on April 17, 2008

My grandparents came from Italy, so when my daughter had to sign up for her 9th grade classes, I was thrilled when I saw she chose Italian as her foreign language. I assumed that she wanted to study the language of her heritage and converse with her great-grandmother in her native tongue.  Later I found out it was simply because the French teacher is mean and she was sick of Spanish. I guess I’ll have to put my cannoli recipe away – it looks like we won’t be celebrating Italian heritage day after all.

This year, she is in Italian II. Her teacher, Mrs. B. is also from Italy. As a result, she not only can teach her class grammar and conjugation of verbs, but likes to expose them to Italian culture as much as possible. Each year, Mrs. B. takes her students to New York City to see the Metropolitan Opera perform at the Lincoln Center. They also do a little sight-seeing, stopping at Rockefeller Center to see the skaters and the tree all lit up, then off to an authentic Italian restaurant before getting all cultured at the opera.

My daughter went last year, and while they were at Rockefeller Center looking at the tree and skaters, she got a little pale and dizzy – almost passing out.  So when she signed up to go again this year, the teacher got nervous because she must have figured out that if one Italian opera makes you feel faint, the second one might be fatal. As a result, she invited me to come as one of the chaperones.  Not a problem – until I remembered that last summer Mrs. B. took a group of her Italian students on a two week trip to Italy.  Why couldn’t my daughter have gotten sick on that trip? Oh, I guess we would have had to pay the $5000.00 and actually have sent her to Italy for that to happen.  Oh well, the opera then it is.

We had a lovely Italian meal at Seraphina’s in New York City. We almost ended up at Tokyo Sushi because apparently it is a tradition to go out for Asian food before seeing an Italian opera that only the bus driver knew.  I can see how that could be.  An Italian class going to see an Italian opera with an Italian teacher might just decide to go out for Japanese food for a multicultural experience. 

Next, we were off to the opera!  Everything about the opera was larger than life.  The Lincoln Center was stunning, the set, the costumes, the singers all were grande.  Our seats were in the nose bleed section – apparently even the opera offers us common folk a chance at culture by selling the less expensive tickets in exchange for risking plunging off the 6th balcony to our death.  I suppose this happens every once in a while and the opera patrons just assume its part of the show adding to the drama.

And drama there was.  Un Ballo in Maschera is the story of the betrayal and murder of King Gustavo of Sweden by his best friend at a masked ball written by none other than Verdi.  Now, I do have a lot of sympathy for the King, I do.  But the whole darn thing was in Italian (duh!) and there were two intermissions and we had at least an hour bus ride home.  School starts very early, so we were looking at getting very little sleep.

Don’t mess with my sleep, Verdi. 

So by the time King Gustavo got stabbed, we mothers who knew the kind of morning we would be facing with our kids, were done.  Unfortunately, King Gus was not.  He just sang away, very loudly and strong from the stage floor, not at all acting like he was dying. He was declaring his eternal love for Amelia (um, she was his best friend’s wife, which may have had something to do with the stabbing and all – just a guess, since I don’t speak Italian). He also forgave all those who plotted his demise – very noble, but he should have thought of that before he started up with his BFF’s wife. 

The other moms and I felt like we were in that Seinfeld episode where Elaine has been coerced into seeing “The English Patient”.  She gets so fed up with his slow death that she can no longer stand it and yells, “Just die already! Just die!”  Oh that we had Elaine’s total lack of regard for those sitting around us who were actually enjoying poor Gus’s slow and painful death.

Maybe now I understand why my daughter almost passed out during last year’s opera trip.  If only I had figured it out sooner, I could have given Mrs. B a real scare by getting dizzy and plunging off the 6th balcony assuring that I would never be asked to chaperone again.

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2 Responses to “Un Ballo in Maschera or Carol Goes to the Opera”

  1. […] Trip – the Prequel Jump to Comments You have already heard about my very educational and culture filled trip to the opera.  What I did not tell you was that the morning of the opera, I had my annual appointment with my […]

  2. You are culturally cultured. I am not. I am yogurt cultured. I hope this does not destroy a beautiful friendship.

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