TulsaKids Goes to the Opera

Last night my husband and I went to see a dress rehearsal of “Don Giovanni.” In the interest of full disclosure, I went with the understanding that I would blog about it. While I have been to the opera, I am certainly not qualified to critique an opera. I can, however, tell you about my experience and, since I know parents read TulsaKids, I’ll tell you what I think of “Don Giovanni” as a family experience.

First, let’s just say, the orchestra, the singing, the acting was, to my layman’s eyes and ears, terrific. I would like to see more opulent sets in opera, but that may be a cost issue.

I love the spectacle and drama of the opera. If you haven’t been to an opera, you should go. It’s a sumptuous and romantic art form. Go with your significant other, and just take in the experience. If you want to get your teenagers to go, tell them the opera was sort of the MTV of its time. And “Don Giovanni” (composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) doesn’t disappoint in the decadence department.

You’ll find sex, love, deceit, grief, seduction, revenge, mistaken identity and jealously – a virtual cacophony of human emotion – played out before you. And don’t worry if you don’t speak Italian. The PAC has sub-titles running above the stage, so even if you don’t know the libretto, you can follow along.

In this particular opera, Don Giovanni, the cad, is out seducing women throughout Europe, accompanied by his faithful servant Leporello. Leporello offers some terrific humor. I especially liked his recitation of Don Giovanni’s long list of conquests to poor, lovesick Elvira.

Oh, did I mention there’s a murder? Yes. Don Giovanni is so despicable that he murders the father of a woman that he is attempting to seduce, the deed that gets the action going. So, of course, her father, the Commendatore, returns as a ghost to avenge his death and release his daughter from her grief.

Now I’ll put on my parenting publication editor hat and make a couple of suggestions. First, most opera is not for young children, unless they’re pretty exceptional. I have taken my children to the opera after they were in middle school and high school, and they enjoyed it.

So, treat yourself and go. I would also suggest that you take your teens (include a friend or two) and expose them to this unique art form. You may or may not want to tell them the story in advance (easily available on the web). The fun thing that could arise from “Don Giovanni” in particular is a discussion about relationships. After the show, go out for dessert and throw out some questions: Do they know guys (or girls) who act like Don Giovanni? What do they think of his actions toward women? At the end of the opera, he has to pay for his sins with death. What do you think of that moral? What do you think of the character of Don Ottavio? What’s the difference between love and lust? Is it always right to seek revenge? You get the idea.

Often, it’s easier for teens to talk when the topic is something external to themselves. Use the opera to explore thoughts, feelings and values. That’s what art can do for all of us.

Categories: Editor’s Blog