Last night, I went to the newly opened Long Center with my wife, son, and mother-in-law to see Bizet's "Carmen". I remember distinctly that when I was a kid, I never enjoyed the opera quite as much because I had no idea what they were actually saying during the songs, even if I knew the general storyline. This is no longer an issue, since they provide projected subtitles for all of the dialogue and lyrics. Even my nine-year old son was able to follow along easily.
"Carmen" is a relatively long opera, clocking in at just over three hours, which includes two pretty long intermissions of about 20 minutes each between acts. Time seemed to go quickly, thanks to a very talented cast, many of whom are international performers. This was the third musical/opera that my son had attended, and we were all impressed with the production.
Unfortunately, they had sent us tickets for the incorrect date, and since we didn't double-check them before arriving, the four of us could not sit together, but they did make an effort and they found seats for us (two seats each in two nearby locations), despite the fact that this performance was opening night and had been sold out for some time. Needless to say, I was thankful.
Either I never realized it, or I had forgotten how many famous songs come from this single Bizet opera. My son knew at least four of the tunes, including Les Voici, Voici la Quadille", which is perhaps best-known from its appearance in the "Bad News Bears". Another tune that was immediately recognizable was "Habanera". I have heard this countless times, but I never knew how interesting the English lyrics really were. Here's a sample:
Love is a gypsy's child,
it has never, ever, known a law;
love me not, then I love you;
if I love you, you better beware.
The bird you thought you had caught
beat its wings and flew away …
love stays away, you wait and wait;
when least expected, there it is!
All around you, swift, so swift,
it comes, it goes, and then returns …
you think you hold it fast, it flees
you think you're free, it holds you fast.
The opera center itself is a gorgeous piece of architecture, with sweeping views of downtown Austin. In fact, it boasts one of the finest skyline views that I have seen in recent memory.
Overall, it was a terrific experience, and I would highly recommend attending an event there if you have an opportunity. We will certainly return at some point soon. From my perusal of the program, it looks like they have some great shows planned in the upcoming months.