The Doom of Donnie G

Last night, in celebration of my anniversary of being princessly fabulous and oh-thank-god single, my girlfriends and I went to see the tragilariously appropriate dress rehearsal of the Nashville Opera’s Don Giovanni. (The Ingrams are very big patrons of the arts, and sometimes tickets to such events fall from the drop-ceiling-sky like pink autumn leaves from drought-stricken trees.)

Lillie and I dressed down from our normal exotic con-wear, meaning we were still far too cute, long-haired, and buxom for the very sketchy part of town we had to walk through to get to TPAC’s Jackson Hall. (I’m sure Squire Lillie’s SCA bruises also did not add to our credibility as women who made their money behind a desk instead of leaning through car windows…hey baby, wanna buy a book?)

I’ve never been to TPAC before, or an opera, or a dress rehearsal of a performance of such caliber, so things were new to me all around — an adventure! You know how much I love those. And we had a blast! True to form, I’d like to share with you some of the things I learned last night.

* Seats at a dress rehearsal are first-come, first-served. ROCK ON. People have to pay serious cashola to sit within spitball distance of the orchestra pit. Lillie and I, half an hour early, skipped straight up to the fifth row and plunked down slightly stage-left (there was a group who had commandeered the four seats directly center stage). It was the closest to the middle we could get, as a bunch of rows had been roped off for the sound and camera guys.

* Snobby rich white girls have no inside voice. Yes, I did hear the snark when you finally came back to the seat your lackey friend had saved for you. Open seating means open seating. If you’re that worried about your boyfriend rubbing elbows with two brunettes with cleavage, that’s your problem. Voicing it only makes us pity you. And giggle.

*Yes, Virginia, that is the national anthem. Stand up and sing. And feel free to sing with your company voice, since you’re at the opera. No matter how well you belt it out, everyone on stage can put you to shame with their pinky finger. That’s right, girlie, your boyfriend is rubbing elbows with a buxom brunette soprano. Suck it up; there will be more on stage later to remind you of your limpy, dishwater inadequacies.

* It’s all about subtitles. Shortly after we sat down, I voraciously read the Cliff Notes program synopsis of the opera so I wouldn’t be completely lost through the whole thing. I love other languages, and I think opera is gorgeous, but it does bother me when there’s a story being played out in front of me and I can’t quite grasp what’s going ont. Welcome to the 21st century! Operas now have subtitles projected on the curtain above the action. Brilliant! It wasn’t a true word-for-word translation (and was sometimes laugh-out-loud funny), but we got the general gist of what all the breast-beating and supplicating arms were all about.

*You can’t save the world from an evil man. He’ll reap what he sows, and the Devil will bring him back into the fold. His worst enemy is inevitably himself. In the main, the opera wasn’t as much about Don Giovanni as it was about all the people whose lives he affected. Donna Elvira isn’t on stage for two minutes before I was thinking, "Oh honey, he’s not worth it. Just move on and forget about him. Life’s too short. You’ll be so much better off, trust me. Now, that is a gorgeous pink dress. You’re about my size…could I try it on?"

Elizabeth Caballero sings Donna Elvira

* You can string a man along forever if you keep threatening to die. This lesson came courtesy of Donna Anna, so distraught over the death of her father that she "was going to die" over and over again until Ottavio swore he’d do whatever she wanted him to do. Good to know the old "victim strategy" is at least as old as 1787.

* As long as you constantly swear to get vengeance on someone, you don’t actually have to do anything about it. Don Ottavio remained steadfast, chivalrous, and gallant throughout the whole play without having to lift a finger. (And during his big tenor solo there was a strange moment when I swear he suddenly transformed into John Scalzi…but I digress.)

* Don’t invite masked strangers to a party. You know, I can’t imagine this being a good idea ever. I can see a buddy of Mozart’s reading over his shoulder, sucking air through his teeth, and saying, "Really, Wolfy? You don’t think that’s a wee bit of a stretch?"

Grand Master Wolfy M.

* You can take the man out of the mortal plane, but you can’t take the mortal plane out of the man. And apparently, they wear white leisure suits in Hell. But for an explanation of that one, you’re just going to have to see a performance for yourself.