U And Me

Not you. “U,” the Klingon opera I just found out about. I need three lifetimes; otherwise my head is going to explode.

Ever since the Engineer moved in — well, practically — we have been binge-watching the modern Star Trek series in slow motion. By which I mean I can only stand to spend a certain amount of time sitting in a day, so to the extent I am chilling in front of the laptop and the Netflix stream at all, it’s been the Patrick Stewart Next Generation series, then Deep Space Nine alternating with Voyager (because the Engineer is a stickler for protocol and wants to run the shows in roughly the sequence they aired, overlapping seasons). NO SPOILERS IN COMMENTS, PLEASE: We’re only half way through these last two.

But far enough for me to grapple with the concept of Klingon opera.

How can I not love Klingons? They bash each other for fun, have romantic encounters that require subsequent visits to the chiropractor, drink like German naval officers on shore leave, and sing heroic sagas of battle, death and glory. In fact they stage them.

Well. Hm. Probably someone could do better than that.

Someone had a go at it.

The libretto there was produced by Mark Okrand, the linguist who created the Klingon language that has now become a worldwide Esperanto for geeks. That’s one lifetime I’ll need; Klingon, a guttural, aspirate speech with emphases so pronounced that, as one manual says, “If the person you’re talking to doesn’t get spit on you’re doing it wrong,” feels like just the language I want to speak when I’ve just hucked up a brutal power set or have just about had it with the idiots of the world.

(Mark Okrand talks about it here, if you have twenty minutes or so worth of interest in the matter.)

The music is shouty, but it’s not a bad effort — it beats hell out of the shit I hear coming from the car speakers of dimbulb drivers next to me at lights. Whom I will now imagine myself pulling through their driver’s windows and hurling over the roofs of their own cars, declaiming in Klingon.

“Actually,” I said to the Engineer, “this whole Deep Space Nine story arc is the stuff of opera.” If it wouldn’t have to be a collection that would dwarf the Ring Cycle. We’ve got a man who’s been adopted by a whole culture as a demigod, resulting in power conspiracies between the culture’s religious, good for some plotters’ duets of the first water; we’ve got a grudge match between that culture and another one represented by a Magnificent Bastard who could give Scarpia and Iago a run for it (that’s Gul Dukat if you know the show), who’s repudiated his own half-breed daughter (“Stay and be damned!” he cries to her as he turns on his heel, after she chooses to remain with a lover who is his arch-enemy)… my god, could Verdi ask a librettist for more? We’ve got a bunch of sawed-off Ferengi running around to give the trouser mezzos and boy sopranos a workout, the unrequited love of a bowl of Jello for a beautiful princess Amazonian resistance fighter… okay, Jello is not operatic, but the plot thread is. I can already half-hear a lullaby to be sung in a light tenor to Major Kira’s sleeping ears. But I don’t know who’s equal to the dark duet that could be made of this clip — sentiment by the bucketful, a bass and a light baritone I think, sort of the vocal color of the duet in the first act of Dutchman, but a more natural, dialogue-driven setting — think Puccini.

Is my imagination running away with me? What the fuck. I’m going to let it. The Terok Nor cycle, premiering in the opera house on Q’onos, special opening night festival for all allies. No synthohol.


2 thoughts on “U And Me

  1. Space opera is aptly named This isn’t a criticism.

    Klingons seem to be a combination of our fascinations with Vikings and Maori warriors. The writer had a brilliant insight to realize opera would be their medium.

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