January 26, 2021
Operatic resolutions for a drama-free year
So, how are your New Year's resolutions going so far? The world of opera is full of opportunities for lofty resolutions and good intentions—a few admirably kept, most not so much. Here are some actual (and imagined) that come to mind.
Resolution #1: Get healthy (for real this time)
If you're anything like Gen. Leslie Groves from Doctor Atomic, you've likely promised yourself (more than once) that this is the year you're finally going to start getting healthier and exercising more. His stress eating and yo-yo dieting may have made his uniform a touch snug, but cake is cheaper than therapy—just ask Falstaff. Verdi's aging knight is sharp-tongued and clever, but often drunk and prone to laziness. Here's hoping this will be the year he finally cuts back on the mulled wine.
Resolution #2: Don't let jealousy get the best of you
Many of opera's most dramatic deaths can be attributed to the green-eyed monster. Whether you're envious of someone else's success or sweetheart, we hope this will be the year that you give yourself time to calm down and talk through things rationally before jumping to conclusions. If Lensky had taken that advice, Eugene Onegin could have been an opera about two happily married couples living in the Russian countryside.
Resolution #3: Find someone who makes you feel like a million bucks
We get it. Times are tough, and maybe you're hoping to find someone who can take care of you this year. It's a popular trope in opera. Musetta, Mimì (both La bohème), Magda (La rondine), and Tatiana (Eugene Onegin) all take up with wealthy gents when love leaves them out in the cold. However, if rich dreamboats are in short supply this year, we hope you find someone who—without spending a single cent—can make you feel like a million bucks.
Resolution #4: Be true to yourself
It was famed author Oscar Wilde who aptly stated: "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken." This year, let down the facade and be proud of who you truly are. Maybe if Rodolfo (Luisa Miller), the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto), and Count Almaviva (The Barber of Seville) hadn't masqueraded as poor students, or if Guglielmo and Ferrando didn't attempt to trick their girlfriends by donning fake facial hair in Così fan tutte, we could have avoided a lot of heartbreak and tear-filled curtain calls.
Resolution #5: Be faithful
Many operatic heroes and heroines have come up against Lotharios and fickle lovers. Therefore, it's easy to believe that their less-than-perfect counterparts have promised that this will be the year they remain faithful and settle down. Manon, Carmen, Count Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro), and Don Giovanni all come to mind and, frankly, inspire little faith in their reform. Hopefully, this year, you will have better luck securing the affections of your preferred partner—or the sense to run in the opposite direction.
As we look forward to the rest of 2021, it's important to follow Violetta's lead in La traviata and live every day like it's your last. You definitely don't want to look back like Orpheus (Orphée et Eurydice/Orpheus in the Underworld), because the best is yet to come.