Thursday, 21 May 2009

Nainen vailla varjoa

Last night we went to the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki to see the above titled opera. It is more commonly known by it's German name of "Die Frau ohne Schatten" or in English as "The woman without a shadow." We had decided to go firstly because we wanted to see the inside of the opera house (noble I know), then we chose to go last night because today is a Holiday in Finland and therefore nobody would have to get out of bed early. None of us had any knowledge of the opera itself or opera in general.
I am not really sure what to write from here? How do I make any kind of reasonable summary of a 4 hour opera that veered between sublime and ridiculous, homaged Star Wars & Snow White & the 7 dwarfs, had a plot that made Pokeman look understandable, astounded me that opera could be this good and was not at all a difficult art form, let me read Finnish & English surtitles and yet still, finally, make the point that a woman's role in society is to bear children for her husband? Having done a little reading on the Internet it appears that the opera is a nightmare/challenge to stage and to sing and despite the fact the whole production had more than a small dose of weirdness about it I came away quite exhilarated and determined to go to the opera again in the autumn.

This pleases me because when I mentioned to a work colleague who is heavily involved in classical music here in Finland that I was going to see this opera I received a sceptical eyebrow and a forlorn good luck. Yet the experience was anything but one to mourn over. It was an affirmation (as if it were needed) that an open mind will lead to enriching discoveries, that a willingness to explore your home town will throw up unusual experiences and that a Grandmother who plays her uncomprehending grandson opera at an early age will have the last laugh when he goes to the opera house and experiences something of a revelation.

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