Certainly more than “absolutely nothing, y’all”.
I went, last night, to see Rusalka at the Denver opera house. Allie’s been working on it, and she got me a ticket. It was really good, but it intersected interestingly with my continuing reading of Peter Brook. Opera is almost intrinsically in the category of Deadly Theatre, if theatre it is. And that’s the question. Sure, it has all the inflexibility and Grand Tradition that Brook talks about, but ultimately? I don’t think it’s theater as such.
I don’t mean, by this, to denigrate opera at all. It’s just a different beast. I sat and watched this tragedy (and let me tell you, if opera plots are incoherent, opera-based-on-myth plots are even more incoherent) and felt nothing like catharsis. There was no characterization, in the sense of convincing the audience that the characters were real beings with real minds.
Instead, there was spectacle. There was amazing set and costume design, that interacted perfectly, and played with the lighting design. There was music, there was dance, there was fantastic singing.
So, there, I realized opera is not theatre. But it is great fun, if you stop looking for the fun of a story. (I think I compulsively look for stories. I’m working on non-story fun, ok?)