I once penned a review of the film, "Tomb Raider." It appeared in the column that I write for the Columbia River Reader in August of 2001. Many people might have a problem thinking of Tomb Raider as "high culture" and as shallow as I really am, I would still like to have people think that I have some depth. I am far from a cultured person, therefore I thought it only right for me to share my "uncultured" impressions of a high cultural event.
My trip to the Opera
For me, going to the opera, was a wonderful opportunity. I had never been to one before and I just knew that this would become a "pivotal event" in my life. A friend warned me that this opera might not be the best one to sacrifice my cultural virginity to, but I was determined to go. The Opera was Verdi's Aïda, and it was three and a half hours long. I had been suffering from shingles, and even the touch of cloth on my skin could be exquisitely painful. I was pretty sure that I would be in pain throughout most of the performance.
My daughter bought us the tickets, and they cost her about $108. My wife was concerned about my health and asked me if we should give the tickets away. I told her that I would not consider this option at all. I told her that we would go to the opera and "enjoy it, even if it killed us in the process."
Our seats were superb. They were right up front, and we were able
to get a good view of everything. The Orchestra was excellent, the staging
was lavish beyond description, and the singing was sort of, well O. K.
The lead soprano's voice cracked while she was trying to reach some of the
high notes, the lead tenor was adequate, but the baritone (Aïda's father) was fantastic,
as was the bass who was also the high priest. The dancers had a few problems with
one tripping over the other during the Processional, but they covered nicely. This was the second to the last performance, and I suspect everyone was tired.
It was interesting to see all those people wearing Egyptian suits singing Italian.
There was Aïda, the Ethiopian slave girl, her mistress Amneris, Princess of Egypt
and Radames, Captain of the guards, a man determined to kick Ethiopian butt.
Radames had a thing for Aïda, and Amneris, had a thing for Radames.
The story involves the Egyptians going to war with Ethiopia. It is sort of like our incursion into Iraq, the Egyptians, because of their superior military, were able to kick the bejesus out of the less prepared Ethiopians. Our returning Egyptian hero's brought in a bunch of prisoners. They marched the prisoners in as part of a triumphal procession. The procession was really something for the audience to see; they had a real Elephant, lots of dancers (nice sexy women with bright jangles and eye popping bangles) and lots of fan fair.
To Continue with the story: everyone in the group wanted to kill the prisoners. They tried to make it obvious to Pharaoh that the prisoners were nothing but Ethiopian scum and really didn't deserve to live.
During the procession, Aïda recognized her dad as one of the prisoners. Now her dad just so happened to be the King of Ethiopia... no one knew this bit of information (except Aïda of course). Her dad pulled her aside and asked her not to tell anyone about his secret Identity. Aïda wanted to be a good daughter, although she let everyone know that one of the prisoners was her dad, she was very careful not to let anyone know that her dad was in the king business.
The King of Egypt told Radames, that as a reward, he would give him any favor that he might want.
Radames responded by asking the king to show "Mercy to the Prisoners..."
The king agreed to let the prisoners live.