Happy Sunday, beloveds!
Yesterday your esteemed Professor went to the opera. The professor adores the opera, beloveds. There’s singing and murder and revenge and intrigue and loud, high notes that make your professor turn into one big puddle of goosebumps. It’s delightfully camp and melodramatic and usually it’s in Italian, a language that sends your professor into a tizzy.
However, sometimes your radical femme feminist professor has a love-hate relationship with her beloved screamin’ mimi music. First of all, women really get the short end of the stick in the opera. They do get to sing the pretty high notes and often get to wear some top-notch pretty dresses and exciting wigs. In addition to the pretty high note and dress niceness, though. . .women end up dead a lot. Or crazy. The estimable Professor Catherine Clement wrote a really interesting book about the subject, called Opera, or the Undoing of Women.
She talks about it way more than your Professor ever could.
But, at yesterday’s opera (The COC’s totally worth it Il Travatore, for the record) what was deserving of a smackupsidethehead was the fact that the opera was full of people that Verdi and subsequently the programme note writer referred to as “gypsies”. Beloveds, that word is not what nice is. The Roma people are a historically persecuted people, and I have heard that word described as a completely hateful racial slur along the lines of all the other hateful racial slurs that make your Professor want to smacksomebodysoundlyupsidethehead*. Now Verdi (and Bizet, and Strauss, and plenty of other old-timey dead white guy composers) loved to put the Roma people in their operas and ignorantly call them a terrible name. However, modern programme writers should snap out of it and be a bit wiser, perhaps taking a moment to address this persecution somewhere in their notes, or use a different term, or read a fucking book. Also, it was very puzzling to your professor that the word “gioia” which is Italian for “joy” or “joyful” was translated on the supertitles as “gypsy”. Ugh, supertitle writer, ugh. A lot of operas have sort of troubling plot lines that are racist and sexist and classist. Your professor will love the opera until the day she cops the eternal dirt nap, beloveds. . .but thinks that teachable moments should be utilized, even in the super spoilery program notes for the opera. “Surprise!” say the program notes “everybody totally dies!”
*Beloveds, don’t you ever dare use the phrase “I got gypped” again. Ever. That is some fucking racist shit right there.
Until next time,
In niceness and goosebumply high notes,
Bonus clicky of the day: just listen to this goosebumply shit. Just listen to it. Verdi, beloveds, Verdi.
special bonus clicky of the day. Pavarotti, beloveds, motherfucking Pavarotti. I’m still waiting for another tenor like him.