April 17, 2019
National Respect for Parents Day
August 1st is National Respect for Parents Day! In the real world, it’s best to heed your parents’ advice, but in opera, they don’t always know best...
Rigoletto’s titular character takes protective parenting to the extreme. He forbids his daughter Gilda to leave the house; only allowing her to attend Church on Sundays. After basically living under a rock for her entire life, it’s no wonder that she naively falls victim to the charming Duke. She falls madly in love with him after just one meeting, during which he tells her that he is a student named “Gaultier Maldé.” After overhearing her father’s plot to have the Duke assassinated, she resigns herself to die in his place, leaving Rigoletto to mourn her while the Duke parties the night away to the tune of “La Donna è Mobile.”
Wotan, of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, isn’t exactly father of the year material either. Sure, Brünnhilde might have disobeyed him when she agreed to grant Siegmund victory over Hunding, but leaving her in a magic sleep on a mountaintop encircled by flame seems a little excessive. He could have just grounded her.
In Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Pamina’s mother — the imposing Queen of the Night — orders her to kill the wise and kindly sorcerer, Sarastro, threatening to disown her if she should fail. And what’s more, she allies herself with Monostatos, one of opera’s creepiest characters, and has promised him Pamina’s hand in marriage in exchange for his help in defeating Sarastro. So next time your mom asks you to take out the trash, just be glad she’s not using you as a pawn in her revenge plot!
Sure, sometimes we may not feel like listening to our parents, but opera reminds us that they could be a whole lot worse. Show your parents you appreciate them by sending a little extra courtesy their way today!