Don't drink rootbeer at the Dallas Opera's production of "Lohengrin" this week. You know how weird it feels when you laugh so hard the rootbeer shoots out your nostrils.
Gotta say I was leary about attending my first Wagner opera, and not just because it is four and a half hours long. I had the feeling that as a tone deaf latecomer to opera, I would never be worthy of The Master. Plus, I've been laughed out of a room of musicians for pronouncing the Wag like a bag. Ooops! That's the equivalent of ripping open a package of potato chips and having them fly out all over the table at a four-star restaurant.
Who's laughing now?
In the Sixties there was a fad in little girl fashions of petticoats with pink inflatable inner-tubes at the hems. I think it was a few years before the "pettipants" fad. Imagine the female members of the opera chorus in grey cheesecloth gowns with wired hems circling out about eight inches above their ankles. Hours of construction went into the costume for each chorus member, but the visual effect was of the failed projects of a seventh grade sewing class.
The male chorus members are dressed as ... as... as WHAT? They wear wide full-length Samurai culottes and vaguely military jackets. Some scenes they accessorize with Incredible Hulk rubber armor breastplates that tend to ride up on the guys, necessitating frequent adjustments. Other scenes they wear white paper collars that make them look like Puritans at the dentist's office. And why are the Samurai Puritans playing volleyball in that decaying vacant warehouse with the tree growing through the window???
In Act II Ortrud and Telramund's faces are rarely lit, so opera glasses are of little use. When the sorceress, Ortrud, writhes on the floor invoking Wotan and other pagan gods, she appears to rip the head off a little yellow ducky puppet like my baby sons had. We will never know why she was wearing a ski headband of the type my brother used to call an "ear bra" with her wig.
The set, costumes, and lighting design are from Teatro Muncipal di Santiago (Chile). The nonsensical stage direction is by Alfred Kirchner.
The music is glorious. Don't stay home. I haven't given all the laughs away by far. And laughter is something we all need.