Antonio Celaya e-mailed, quite wonderfully, from Oakland, California, about his experience with a wide-awake opera audience. With his permission, I’ll share what he wrote. Thanks, Antonio!
Taruskin’s description of baroque opera in Italy had much in common with a performance I attended recently. In fact, after the performance I wrote to friends and compared my experience to what opera must have been like in Venice during carnavale.I attended the opening night of SF Opera’s production of Ligeti’s “Le Grand Macabre.” It was the night before Halloween. Half the audience was in costume. There was a cross dressing couple costumed as Pinkerton and Butterfly. Death sat behind my wife and me. One fellow in combat fatigues had a plastic automatic weapon with an enormous penis sticking out of the barrel.The audience roared with every car horn tocatta. The audience cheered references to the “Patriot Act.” I waited more than 25 years to hear that opera live, and it was worth the wait to get that bang of an introduction.