Opera (Not the Browser)

I worked all morning on until mid afternoon, but I felt a bit silly sitting in front of a computer all day while Sydney was just a short train ride away. I’d flown all this way, and it seemed a shame to waste the chance to do some Australizing. The same urge made me take a dip in the ocean at lunch on Thursday. The water was nice and warm, and the waves at Manly Beach made for a pretty vigorous splashing around. But today I felt a little less ambitious, so I went down to Circular Quay, walked around the harbor, and saw the exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art (which M and I had enjoyed last year). Then I walked around the Opera House into the park area. After a while, I began to recognize some landmarks from last year. Once again, I was stunned by the giant bats that hung like strange fruit from the trees. After walking around for an hour or so, I stumbled onto a grassy area we hadn’t seen… there was a large pond with little islands, and birds all around. I relaxed and read for a while. Towards dusk, the cockatoos got really active, and were screaming and swooping low over the heads of people lounging on the green, and I took a bunch of pictures of them. It’s so odd to see them common in the wild, a sort of context shift from them being relatively rare pets.

When the park was closing down, I strolled back past the Opera House, and the courtyard was fenced off, with a huge crowd on the stairs. I went by the ticket booth to see what was going on, with the idle thought that I might get a ticket (though I was sure the prices would be too rich for my blood). I was a little relieved when the cashier told me it was sold out. But as I passed by the front gate, I heard a loudspeaker announce that they would be letting people into the courtyard to watch that night’s opera, La Traviata, on the giant plasma screen… which is what all the people outside had gathered to see… and, I gathered, paid to do so. So I figured, what the heck, and loitered a few minutes. Sure enough, they opened the gates to rabble of my ilk, and I lay down 20 feet from the screen to watch the concurrent performance.

I have to admit that I’m not an opera fan, but it was worth it for the novelty of seeing an opera at the Sydney Opera House (even if I wasn’t inside). I wasn’t really taken with it… some of the music was nice, but that style of overblown range-roving singing gets on my nerves. Of course, the plot was inane and nonsensical, and (spoiler) the heroine died “tragically” at the end. I think I’ll stick with musicals for my infrequent music-story-mashup fix.

I kept missing M throughout the day… she would have enjoyed it, but with me in a conference the whole week, it didn’t make any sense to bring her along this time.