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 therapyjust 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.

At the beginning of Act I, Falstaff (portrayed by a highly padded Andrew Shore in Lyric's 2007/08 production of the Verdi comedy) shares his fear of losing weight with Bardolfo and Pistola, saying, "Mi struggete le carni! Se Falstaff s'assotiglia, no è più lui, nessuno più ama" ("You guys are taking the food out of my mouth! If Falstaff gets skinny, he's not himself, no one will love him anymore").

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.

At a party, Onegin (Mariusz Kwiecień), flirts and dances with Olga (Alisa Kolosova), angering her jealous fiancé Lensky (Charles Castronovo), who challenges his friend to a duel in our 2016/17 production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.

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.

Musetta (Danielle de Niese) makes Marcello (Zachary Nelson, ctr) jealous as she flaunts her wealthy suitor at Café Momus in our 2018/19 production of Puccini's La bohème.

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.

In our 2017/18 production of Mozart's Così fan tutte, Guglielmo and Ferrando (Joshua Hopkins and Andrew Stenson, l-r) tell their girlfriends (Marianne Crebassa and Ana María Martínez, l-r) that they have been called off to war, when in reality they don fake facial hair and switch places to cruelly test the faithfulness of their partners.

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.

Count Almaviva (Luca Pisaroni) attempts to seduce his maid, Susanna (Christiane Karg) before her marriage in our 2015/16 production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

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.

Test your opera knowledge with this fun match game, and see if you can pair all of the characters with their real or imagined resolution!

Header image: Dmitry Korchak as Orphée in Lyric's 2017/18 production of Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice (photo: Todd Rosenberg).

All other photos: Robert Kusel, Dan Rest, Todd Rosenberg, Cory Weaver