“Enchanted.” Chick flicks. A girlfriend wanted to know if I shared her love of modern day fairy tale aka girlie movies about kissing princes. Well no...but I had been to the Met Simulcasts this opera season and a majority ...six in all...centered on a woman with a love interest. Does this count?
Unlike heroines in chick flicks, the majority of opera heroines seem to be of royal blood to start with. Turnadot and Aida are both princesses, Armida is the Queen of Damascus and Tosca is not only an opera diva to which all Rome flocks to hear sing, but she also has the ear of the queen.
Perhaps the one displaying the most teenage girl angst is Ophelia. Unlike the cheerful Centerentola who moves up when she marries the prince, Ophelia starts out by being in love with a the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet.
Then there is Carmen who conquers everyone in her path.
All these soprano star roles seem to possess some kind of personal power--most often political--either by birth or by talent. Except for Ophelia who dies early, the others l clearly are into running the show.
No Mimis or Margurites this season! No happy endings ever after either!
Turnadot might at first seem the exception in that she lives to see another day when she finally meets her match. Of course, the countless suitors who make of the mountain of dead before we get to the grand climax...but with grand operatic moments like these, who is counting the dead bodies it takes for the princess to find true happiness.
Speaking of princesses, there is Aida. She is the Ethiopian royal princess, who just happens to be in the wrong kingdom where she is a slave girl to the Egyptian princess. First , she defeats the princess in love by taking away the leading man, Radames. She then convinces him to help her defeat the Egyptians. The political skills Aida displays of course are often overlooked by her dramatic arias, and her eventual heart wrenching death by entombment. Together forever, but not happy for sure.
Speaking of power, there is Carmen, who is a revolutionary leader. Opera’s bad girl is in reality a powerful symbol of women struggling against oppressive government as she leads a band of arms smugglers in the Pyrenees.
Speaking of overturning governments, what exactly is Tosca doing, she sings for the Roman royals, while at the same time she is involved with a revolutionary artist. Her greatest scene might be when love turns to vengeance, in the scene where she kills nemesis, the chief of police Baron Scarpia.
Speaking of vengeance who could leave out Armida. She has it all. She's a queen who has seduced a Crusader to desert his country to be at her side. What Aida does so nobly, Turnadot with such doggedness, Carmen with passion and Tosca with exquisite art... Armida--and Renee Fleming in the role-- does it with sorcery.
Sorcery definition enchantment--maybe this is really what all these characters and the stars who sing them are really using on us.