A Nerd’s Guide to Going to the Opera

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I have been to the opera on two occasions this spring. Once to Prokofiev’s War and Peace and once to Wagner’s Die Walkure. This brings to two the total number of times, lifetime, that I have ever been to the opera. Though I have occasionally dabbled in classical music, the opera house is not my natural habitat. But it is possible for a nerd to find sustenance there.

Here are some notes from one who survived:

– On arrival at the Wagner performance you immediately notice a dude walking around wearing a Viking helmet. Apparently LARPing is allowed at the opera. You immediately feel more at home.

– Every seat comes with a little low-res amber-display monitor that shows the lyrics that are being sung, in real time, for those who don’t speak German or Russian or Operanian. You feel a sudden desperate urge to know the technical details of this system. Is it wireless? Is it hackable?

– As soon as the curtain goes up you realize that all of 20th century fantasy must basically be descended from Wagner. I mean, look at this set. It looks like the cover of Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.

– You double-check the program and then suppress an urge to flee as you realize that Siegmund and Sieglinde are going to have sex. They are brother and sister. Twin brother and twin sister. Germans are weird.

– Intermission. You note that along with LARPing, drinking is not only acceptable but apparently expected. This could work.

– Back to the opera. Damn, Wotan just slew a dude by waving his hand. What was that, Slay Living?

War and Peace ran over four hours. Die Walkure cracks the three-hour mark. But amazingly, it appears to be socially acceptable to leave before the thing is over. As Act III of Walkure gets under way, you discreetly make for the exit.

– The orchestra is playing that music from Apocalypse Now. Germans are weird.

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