Last weekend my husband and I went to McCaw Hall in Seattle to see a rarely performed Rossini’s opera The Wicked Adventures of Count Ory. As the title and the iconic image for publicity (two men in nun’s habit laughing) suggested, it was a farcical comedy that satirized the misbehaviors of the ruling class of the long lost past (exactly from the time of crusade). Although the gray-toned publicity photo was not particularly inviting, I was enticed by its flyer description (“inspired by Monty Python”) as well as by the fact that I had never seen the opera.
The opera was essentially a irreverent and irrelevant bawdy farce without any ulterior motive, such as critiquing the current political or social situations, except for, perhaps, pointing to the sexual innuendos as easy source of laughter that seems to have existed in popular culture since the time of Aristophanes. The staging of the opera was colorful and humorous. However, I was struck by the incongruity of the 16th-century male costumes with exaggerated codpieces worn by male characters. (Didn’t the story transpire during the time of crusade? Were the men dressed like that?) However, since every story arch was underscored by its absurdity the anachronism finally did not matter. The audience loved it. The coarseness and bawdiness of the narrative was toned down considerably by the beautiful singings and music (after all, it’s an opera…though I have to confess that no melody stayed with me long). Well, I look forward to seeing the Seattle Opera Production of La Traviata later this year.