A couple of weeks ago I tried to go to the Met’s live broadcast of Le Comte Ory. Alas, I got to the theater only to discover that the blue-hairs had beat me to it: the place was sold out. (Rueful fist shake!) Not to be done out of a chance to hear Juan Diego Florez sing, I skipped out of work early today (at 6pm, instead of 11pm) and went to the opera.
And it was totally worth it! It’s a Rossini opera, based on a medieval French tale — so, as the adage goes, think of a French pastry cooked by an Italian chef. The short version: All the men of the village are off to the Crusades, leaving their lovely women-folk (including a voluptuous countess) forlorn and inconsolable (well, almost inconsolable, it turns out) in the castle. Count Ory, a dashing local womanizer who happened to avoid the wars, hears of this and sets off to woo said countess and her attendants. His first tactic was to pose as a wise hermit and provide one-on-one “counseling” sessions to cheer up the ladies. (It works!) Ory’s page, who happens also to be in love with the countess, shows up and unmasks Ory. (Indignation!) That night, Ory disguises himself and his knights as nuns on a pilgrimage and come to the castle seeking refuge from the storm and claiming to have been pursued by Count Ory. (Les pauvres!) The countess and her ladies take pity on the nuns and let them in. Hilarity ensues. Also one of the best bedroom scenes ever. (It’s French; use your imagination.) Then comes an announcement that the Crusading husbands are on their way home and would arrive in an hour. (Being French, they understood that prudent husbands warn their wives before showing up unannounced so as to ensure a happy homecoming…) Of course, that gave the rascals enough time to skedaddle and give room for a happy reunion. Fin.
The three leads (Ory, countess, page) are three of the best bel canto singers around — I’ve been following the tenor, Juan Diego Florez, in particular for some time. He’s amazing. Clips from the opera are available here. And another from a totally different opera:
I’m still convinced that I made a huge mistake in taking mon père to Handel’s Julius Caesar for his first opera. Adding Ory to the list of operas I’d take him to if I had it to do over…