Monday, 10 October 2011

Guest post: Opera. It's Goth.

Opera. It's so stereotypically movie goth. It's so...old ladies who smell like musk sticks. It's's so....

What young whipper-snappers (and yes, I insist on calling you this) misunderstand about opera, is what opera is. They think, "yep, fat ladies bursting your eardrum, chubby blokes making the floorboards rattle, that's opera." But it's not. Let's break it down.

Not unlike this. (source)

  Opera does not refer to a style of singing. Opera refers to a performance, either stage or screen, where there are little or no spoken lines in the play, mainly singing. There are many different operas and musicals - "you've got your full opera, which is 'ohh, i'm dying, you've murdered me, i'm dying, i'm dying', and you've got your light opera, which is basically 'beer! beer! beer!'" is the best way I've had it put (thankyou, Terry Pratchett's Maskerade).

The example I think I will use today is Repo! The Genetic Opera. "But wait a bit", you oysters cry. "That's not an opera, it's a musical!" (or, at least, I presume so. Let's go along with that) But it's not. Go back and count every spoken line, and every sung line.
Yeah. Basically the only person who speaks is Shilo.
There is something inherently oh-so-goffik about the opera. From the suicide in Madame Butterfly, to Sarah Brightman pulling her eyes out in Repo!, and that one scene in Beetlejuice when Lydia is listening to opera whilst writing her suicide note...

 ...there is something so inescapably beautiful and gothic about the world of opera.

Then, of course, we have the musicals.

Anyone who dare look in my musical collection can collect two things: "pirates a lot of stuff" and "bitch loves her some Barbra Streisand".

I'm not denying anything.
(source: screenshotted myself ages ago)

But a quick pop over to my Recently Played list would show you I've been listening to Sweeney Todd and Les Mis over. And over. And over.

Let's take a quick overview of the plot of Sweeney Todd

-Johnny Depp exhiled to Australia
-Johnny Depp comes back to London
-Helena Bonham Carter scares the crap out of him by singing at him
-blah blah filler something about stealing Johanna and being in the dark with her
-they kill a bunch of people
-it all goes wrong
-everybody dies.

Not a good place to stand in the circumstances. (source)

And Les Mis:

-People think revolution is a good idea
-filler filler filler
-People die

Goths have a thing for melodrama. I'm not sure if it's just me - again, Barbra Streisand fan - but the melodrama is so cliched now some goths seem a bit scared of it. Not I. Nay, I say, not I. An ex of mine refused musicals on the basis they were "not goth, Kitty". My response was "but Anthony Head pulls out a dudes spine! WHAT PART OF THIS IS NOT GOTH"

Originally, I was going to make a point
about how he was on Doctor Who. This
is much better. (source: some tumblr)

Some people shy away from opera and musicals, saying that they're weird and unrealistic. How people start magically singing the same tune, and matchgirls and chimneysweeps suddenly break into incredibly complexe, synchronised choreography.
And for Carrot, they would.
This is literally the best picture I could find.
To them I say, of course it's absurd. It's only opera - the absurdities that reflect the truest parts of humans. That is, we like to stab each other and get drunk.

Musicals and operas, whether specifically goth-aimed or the old-ladies-that-smell-like-dust-and-cats kind, are as gothic as gothic can be. All things dark, and perhaps a little bit too much, but with humour about itself - if that isn't goth, I don't know what is.

Traditionally, I end these kinds of things with a picture of my cats to end light-heartedly. I couldn't think of how to tie it together, so here's Ridcully, in his wizard hat.

With this cat, I declare myself free of future mocking
for disliking most goth music.
For more Pratchettry, commentary, cats and geekidom, come to my blag. It's better than Kenya.

Amy's note: I have been trying to write some kind of witty intro to this post, but Kitty... is Kitty, and needs no introducing. Therefore I will stick this heartfelt "THANK YOU KITTY for an awesome guest post" on the bottom. 'Nuff said.


linnea-maria said...

Kitty is so gorgeous and awesome!! I like her a lot! This post was fun! I saw The Phantom of the Opera at the end of the 80's and it was epic(swedish version though).

VictorianAndroid said...

Repo! = <3

Mira said...

Love opera, love musicals- I'd recommend The Threepenny Opera to gothy types who like things like Sweeney Todd.

Minakitty (Mary) said...

The penultimate scene of Mozart's Don Giovanni ('Don Giovanni a cenar teco m'invitasti'). The music alone is intense (one of the most amazing things ever written, IMO), but depending on the production design, it doesn't get much darker than this!

And with any blog post, when in doubt, post a photo of a cat! :)

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

O u guise.

And minakitty, yeah, that's pretty much how it goes. It's like a squid squirting ink. "did you do this?" "AMG I HAVE BEEN FOUND OUT. DEPLOY ADORABLE KITTY PICTURE."

SaryWalrus said...

It was barely a line before I was: "Wait... This sounds like-!"

There is no mistaking Kitty. Especially on the topic of Opera.

Boots said...

I agree with Sary. I knew it:)

And Kitty, this was a brilliant post. Take a bow:)

Aisha Hellbeast (The Nosey Kittycat) said...

Oh Kitty your writing is always hilarious. XD

Serenity said...

I agree- opera is gothic. I am goth, and I sing opera. I have performed many roles semi-professionally, and have currently dedicated my efforts to bringing opera and music to elementary schools. Every Friday morning, my troupe and I load up and drive to elementary schools, bringing them music and hoping to turn them away from a life of violence. I dress in the usual outfit (black dress with black tights and black shoes... with my coffin purse offstage), but both music and the gothic lifestyle go hand in hand in my heart. And yes, Lydia Deeta listening to "Regnava" is awesome. :D <3!

Mjolnir said...

Definitely listen to the broadway cast recordings of Sweeney Todd instead of just the movie soundtrack -- the singing is so much better and the movie cut out some extra songs and lyrics.

InfiltratorN7 said...

I love operas and musicals. I recommend people go check out their local theatre and see if there's any operas or musicals on (or even you know any plays that sound interesting). You never know you might enjoy it. ^_^ Still, I would love to see something down at London's West End one day.

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