Tuesday, 12 April 2011

OPERA ~ "TOSCA" ~ By: Giacomo Puccini ~ Our Impressions and Perspectives

We've been to the opera!  Last Thursday, Isobel attended school for the morning session and then we picked her up, packed a few things in the van, and set off for Edmonton.  Unfortunately our map was out-of-date and so we had a little problem finding the correct turn-off.  I was thankful for a cell phone and for a brother, who lives in the area.  We called him and he gave us very specific directions to get to the venue.  Thanks, Vance!

While driving through traffic, down Fox Drive, enroute to the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Isobel looked out the window, peering at the trees lining the roadway.  "This is all new for me!" she exclaimed.

Alisdair and Isobel standing in front of the
 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium,
 Edmonton, Alberta
We were a couple hours early but didn't want to go elsewhere, so John sat relaxing in the lobby of the "Jube" and I took the children for a lengthy walk around the University of Alberta campus.  We got back just in time to pick up our tickets from the "Guest and Media Table."  The envelope said "Porter Homeschool."  The emcee would later announce that there were eleven homeschools represented, in the audience, as well as students from places like Ponoka and King's University College ~ even an Italian language class! To round out the audience, there were some seniors (mostly ladies), too!  One elderly lady had brought her two granddaughters with her.  How sweet!

Since it was the dress rehearsal, the concessions weren't open, so we were told to take our own snacks for the two intermissions.  So our "Dora the Explorer" backpack contained some juice boxes, Cheetos, and some chocolate chip cookies and blueberry granola bars.  Unfortunately, the "powers that be" had also decided they would not be distributing the official programs, so we were unable to get a keepsake to put in Alisdair's binder.  The tickets, themselves, will have to suffice.

Alisdair ~ at the opera

Isobel says, "Tickets, please ..."
(John is growing a beard!)
It took a little while to "get the hang of" being able to take in everything happening on stage and to read the English supertitles (which were on a screen on the curtains above the stage), at the same time.  However, they were very helpful and increased our comprehension, greatly.

During the final act, John tried to warn Isobel that the soldiers were going to shoot off their guns, so she wouldn't be so surprised at the loud noise.  Afterwards, she said, "The noise made my little bum jump right out of my seat!"

At the conclusion of the opera, Tosca is devastated by the death of her beloved and, in anguish, jumps over the castle wall to her death.  Later, the actors and actresses came back on stage for a curtain call.  Isobel said (loudly) "Aren't you glad that lady didn't break her leg??"  Outside, as we walked across the parking lot, she repeated this to another group of theatre goers.  They were highly amused!

Someone in our party (I'll not mention WHO!) said, "Next time I go to the opera, I'm going to take some earplugs!"

When I asked Alisdair what he saw at the opera he replied.  "Violence!"  It was true, there was a stabbing, a shooting (by firing squad), a two suicides (the aforementioned lady jumping off the wall and another character, an escaped prisoner, who supposedly killed himself off stage when the police discovered him in his hideout).   There was also a scene where Alisdair thought there should be a "viewer discretion advised" warning as Scarpia tries to force himself upon Tosca.

Later, when the main cast members came back on stage for their curtain call, Alisdair exclaimed, "Amazing!  Not a single scrape" ~ a line right out of his "Sir Smashem Uppe" poem from the Battlefords Kiwanis Music Festival.

As we headed out-of-town, after the opera, we spotted a "Boston Pizza" on Whyte Avenue, so we stopped and Alisdair and I went in and ordered take out.  As we stood on the street corner, waiting at the crosswalk, we could see steam coming out of the edges of the cardboard box!  Soon we were back in the waiting minivan, heading east while munching on pizza.  Isobel was soon fast asleep, on the middle seat, the crust of her pizza still clutched in her little hand.

"Sweet dreams of the opera ... dancing in their heads!"
Later, when we stopped for gas in Viking, we found Alisdair all curled up in the other seat, with his special Paddington Bear blanket and his favourite Braw Wee Bear.  At some point, I too, succumbed to sleep, as it seemed like no time at all until John was nudging me and saying "Wake up, we're five miles from home!"  I apologized for falling asleep ~ and not keeping him company on the trek home ~ but he said it was all right, that he couldn't count the number of times he'd been on that very road, late at night, coming home from Hardisty in the semi.  It was about 1:45 AM when we pulled up to the house and got the sleepers resituated in their own beds.

Morning came very early for the littlest "opera lover" as she had to attend Kindergarten on Friday.  But, with a little urging, she made it to class on time.

"TOSCA" is the last production of this season, but I'd highly recommend a field trip to the opera to other homeschoolers.  Check out the Education Program.  Then make plans to attend one of the operas staged during the 2011/2012 season.  I'd definitely go back for another performance!

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