Wood Working: Were we, opera lovers, divinely drenched while U-2 fans took sprinkles?“God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform,” or something like that.
By: Dave Wood, columnist, River Falls Journal
“God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform,” or something like that.
God nailed me last month when Beautiful Wife and I made our way to the Twin Cities.
It was dark and rumbling and the Twin Cities was hosting: 1) The Aquatennial Parade; 2) Sommerfest at Orchestra Hall; 3) A Twins game; and 4) U-2 was performing at the University of Minnesota’s outdoor stadium, hosting 58,000 fans.
Of course, I felt morally and culturally superior to most of the rest of the celebrators because Ruth and I were going to attend an opera at Sommerfest. It was “Der Rosencavalier,” by Richard Strauss.
No Twins for us. No tuba players passing out in the heat of the Aquatennial Parade. And no U-2, Bono or those 58,000 drug-crazed rockers at the stadium.
I mentioned to Ruth that I hoped rain would pour on U-2 and Bono and those 58,000 “music” lovers. My wife, who tends to be very inclusive when it comes to culture, scolded me, and said, “God will get you for that.”
“Der Rosencavalier” was our choice. Of course, we’d never heard it, but were certain we had taken the high ground.
So we dined at the Mexican restaurant Masa with our friends Ralph and Grace, then made our way to Orchestra Hall, where folks were pretending to have fun along the bratwurst stands and ice cream stands at Peavey Plaza next to the hall. We took our seats.
Please realize that operas performed at Sommerfest are not staged. The orchestra plays and plays and plays, while guest singers, fat guys in tuxedos and skinny women in ball gowns, stand out front and sing in languages that no one in the audience understands.
I knew we were in trouble when I read in the program notes that “Der Rosencavalier” is different than most operas because it features no arias. That’s sort of too bad because arias are why I attend operas.
My favorite phonograph record when I was an undergrad was a little item called “Classical Music for People Who Don’t Like It.” In the section on opera, all we heard was a string of unrelated arias: Beautiful.
The first act lasted 95 minutes and there were two acts to go.
At intermission, Ralph, a knowledgeable opera buff, recalled that when Allied troops captured Garmisch-Partenkirchen, they broke into Richard Strauss’ home. Strauss had a big fan in Adolph Hitler and had reason to be just a tad nervous.
So, Ralph recalled, “He said to the grimy dogfaces from Brooklyn and Beldenville who stood in his elegant studio, ‘Don’t hurt me. I wrote “Der Rosencavalier.”’” I’ll bet that went over big.
Ralph’s anecdote was the high entertainment point of the evening.
So we returned to our seats for act two, which lasted only an hour. At that moment, Beautiful Wife said — I swear this is true — “Let’s get out of here and beat the traffic out of the U-2 concert.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, dumbfounded.
“I couldn’t be surer,” said Beautiful Wife.
So we slunk out of Orchestra Hall — into a blinding rainstorm, as arks bobbed up and down, floating along Marquette Avenue.
We finally got to the car, I wrung out my raincoat and said, “Let’s look at the bright side. At least those barbarians at the stadium are getting drenched.” a victory for high culture.
Alas, it was not to be.
On the following morning, we read in the Tribune, that the U-2 concert went very well and miraculously suffered only “a few sprinkles” from on high.
“God works in miraculous ways his wonders to perform.”
Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.