Jun. 11th, 2009

starlady: (utena myth)
I point everyone who feels so inclined/capable to [livejournal.com profile] adoptingcat. Personally, I await with great interest [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna's new YA book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Craft of Her Own Making, which debuts on Monday, and for which I do plan to contribute some $$, since I am (for the time being, DV) employed.

I went with my friend [livejournal.com profile] kwviola to see The Rape of Lucretia last night. The production was excellent, the cast likewise, and Benjamin Britten's music is beautiful. The libretto, though, makes a few false steps (particularly night's "oatmeal slippers." No, I'm not making that up. Oatmeal slippers. WTF), and, aside from its relentless heteronormativity (which I suppose is not really a fair complaint to make about opera. But, come on, I'm sorry, someone somewhere has got to be writing a great melodramatic gay opera. Wouldn't that be interesting, too, Y/Y?), I found the whole "frame-chorus" device to be really odd--the Chorus are a Christian man and woman who are literally between the audience and the actors, both in time and spatially. This production actually had a weird psychosexual dynamic going on between Tarquinius and the male Chorus, though I think that's at least partly in the libretto, since the Chorus eggs Tarquinius on, or is the Chorus merely voicing Tarquinius' thoughts? It's impossible to say for sure; both options remain valid. But after Lucretia is raped the Chorus sings about Christ's pain, and I sat there thinking, "Um, it's Lucretia's pain that really bothers me! Jesus can take care of himself!" And then of course she kills herself.

Yeah, it's a disturbing opera to say the least, and not even because the librettist clearly had no qualms about mixing up historical facts to fit whatever sounded good. Junius, Tarquinius and Collatinus set up Lucretia as a paragon of Roman womanhood in the first scene, and then Tarquinius, the Etruscan Prince of Rome, desires to assert his own power over the Romans by seducing Lucretia, and then after Tarquinius rapes her, Junius uses her rape as a springboard to anti-Etrsucan revolution and his own political gain. Politics is performed on women's bodies regardless of their consent, and even Collatinus tells Lucretia that what she "has given can be forgiven" when she didn't give anything. Ugh.

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