Dr. Darling and I joined a work colleague of mine for a performance of Bizet‘s “Carmen” at an outdoor amphitheater in one of Malmo’s large city parks on Sunday night. This was an unusual thing for us to do since neither one of us is an especially big opera fan. (We share the opinion that it’s great music to have in the CD player when you need to be concentrating on something else.)
But I LOVE live theater and this particular production was a very contemporary interpretation by a professional opera company (the dialogue was spoken rather than sung), and besides that…it was free, so it really wasn’t too tough to talk Dr. Darling into going along.
And I’m SO glad we did, because it was a lovely evening to sit outdoors (we took a picnic supper) and the production was of a very high quality. But for some reason I was not expecting an opera written by a French composer about a bewitching Spanish gypsy to be performed in Swedish.
Well, mostly Swedish. One of the male leads (Escamillo, the Toreador) was played by a striking African American man who had possibly the finest voice in the company. He seemed to have learned *some* of his lines in Swedish (phonetically would be my guess) but performed all of his solo numbers in English. And while this took nothing away from the quality of the music, I found the the whole language issue oddly unsettling and couldn’t figure out why.
After we got home, I confessed to Dr. Darling that I was a little embarrassed for not realizing the performance would be in Swedish, and she agreed that the experience was rather strange.
Shazz: I live in Sweden for crying outloud…of course it’s going to be performed in Swedish.
Dr. D. : Don’t beat yourself up…it WAS weird. We’re just not used to hearing opera in a language that we understand.
Shazz: You’re right. And I’ve always thought that was an important part of the whole opera experience. I mean, the words make no sense so yoú’re completely focused on the music and the emotion it evokes.
Dr. D: Plus you have no idea how cheesy the story actually is.