Sunday, September 24, 2006
I can’t,” I’d say in a whisper, “I’m going to the (barely audible) opera.”
You’d think I was seeing a sex show.
Opera, where I come from, just ain’t right. It sits on a high shelf in the foreign food aisle of my Midwestern imaginary, alongside all the other expensive and weird things that you buy only for company.
So I was nervous when friends, over drinks, invited us to go. But then (sip) we’re in Paris. And we (sip) only live once. We’ll drink first, and it’s (sip), it’s a story.
This kind of cabernet logic is exactly how I ended up at my first Paris sex show. But that’s a different story.
…or is it?
Not so different, in fact, if the opera in question is Salomé. These friends had the foresight to select, for our first time, an opera that doubles as a strip show.
Show of hands: who knew there was nudity in opera?
Opera, in my mind, has always been associated with elites. Boston types, puritans, not the sex-having kind. So I was surprised, I’ll admit, when Salomé began to slowly take off her clothes.
It was innocent during the first of seven veils. Flutes whistled anemically while Salomé pranced around for her step-father. The fluttering ribbons recalled a gymnastic floor routine more than any peep show.
But then, about halfway through the dance, a shift occurred in Salomé. She became fuller, more frantic, more Beyoncé. She was rolling, and then writhing, on the floor. She was spreading her legs and ripping veil after veil, with the orchestra growing louder by the minute. She flew raggedly around the stage – a blur of red hair and white skin. The sixth veil came off, and then the seventh. And these were followed in short order by the shirt, the bra, and the skirt.
The climax (mine, anyway) came when Salomé, fully naked, began to grind against the bars of a cage.
Welcome, people, to the opera!
The closing scene, in which Salomé tongues a decapitated John the Baptist, was a “safe choice” according to Bernhard. Apparently there are productions in which she has sex with the head.
So, to recap: the opera, which costs 20 euros, is actually cheaper – and sexier – than a Paris sex show. And you can, if you want, bring your own binoculars.
Season tickets available here.