Klingon Opera (II)

Well, opera with Klingons, anyway. Not just any opera, but Mozart with Klingons. How the hell did I miss this the first time?

Yes, that’s the whole production — a little over two hours of kick-ass singers performing Mozart’s music with English dialogue, Trek-inflected, adapted from the original libretto.

“You find where in the opera you can make ‘live long and prosper’ fit and then you find a place for ‘boldly go where no man has gone before,’” says [Pacific Opera Project artistic director] Shaw, “and you just fill in the in-between with a bunch of rhyming words.”

I’m still trying to make out some of the rhyming words, but you almost don’t have to, when your tenor has finessed the hammy body language of William Shatner and the heroine’s servant is an actual green Orion slave girl. “Captain” Belmonte’s sidekick Pedrillo has pointed ears, a nice touch especially in the drinking scene (we’ll get to that).

Abduction is not as often performed as Don Giovanni, Cosi fan Tutte or Magic Flute, but festooned with the elements Mozart loved to play with: an exotic culture, twinned pairs of lovers, moral ambivalence. Reportedly he had a hand in the libretto, which whiffs of a Masonic  ecumenism: the young women are captured by a lustful Turk, the go-to villain of the period, along with Belmonte’s servant, and somehow they all have to conspire at escape. Slapstick and suspense ensues, and at the end — just as failure and death seem inescapable (think: “Scotty! I need engines now!” “I canna gae any faster, Captain!”) — all is forgiven, all is reprieved – in this case because the big bad Klingon Turk has decided that a show of mercy becomes him more than the exercise of vengeance, turning the tropes of the times on their head. The Masonry of the period was earnest in its assertion that all men are brothers, human, Vulcan and Klingon alike. I mean…

If you aren’t up for two hours of Singspiel right at the moment — I admit I am still skipping around in it — may I recommend 40:00 – 44:00, the drinking bout at 1:14:00 – 1:20:00, or if you have a little more time, 1:45:00 till it’s over or you need to pee or something.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Klingon Opera (II)

    • And here I thought I was being original to imagine a “Ring” like cycle called Terok Nor based on the Deep Space Nine series. My head is full of melodies I want to use in the scene between Elim Garak and his dying father the Cardassian spymaster. Tenor and a light baritone respectively.

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