A first timer’s experience at the opera

Reese Bentzinger

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I was at the opera on a Friday night.

That changed when I went on Nov. 1 to see two, one-act plays. I’ll confess that the only reason I went was because I didn’t have the opportunity to cover any other stories. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty reluctant when I arrived at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. After all, opera is for stuffy, old people, right?


Much to my surprise, I was thoroughly entertained while watching these two pieces.

The night started with Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” a retelling of Virgil’s “Aeneid.” The play surrounds two lovers, Queen Dido of Carthage and Trojan hero, Aeneas. It’s a classic tale of tragedy, ending in Dido’s death when Aeneas is tricked into abandoning her.

The set piece was gorgeous, with a fantastic, painted garden background complete with faux flowers.

The second part, “La cambiale di matrimonio,” really shocked me. 

Here’s something else I truly never thought I’d say: the opera made me laugh. I giggled as the kooky character, Tobias Mill, created a scheme to marry off his daughter, which caused various mishaps, misunderstandings and antics. The actors expertly pulled off goofy faces and wild movements.

I wasn’t alone in my enjoyment. Audience members, including people my age, roared with laughter. By the end of the night, I realized I was wrong to assume that the opera would be a boring slog. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

I might even go to the opera again, though this time with a more open mind.

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