What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than with some opera? I know, I know, you can probably think of many different ways to spend quality-time with your significant other on February 14th. You can make reservations at that fancy restaurant he's been hinting at for the past month, or you could cook her a fabulous dinner set on a Pinterest-worthy decorated table. Sounds familiar to what you did last year?
So how about something you've never tried, something you've always postponed to later, or maybe something you never thought as a viable option? Or maybe it's the perfect opportunity because you've always wanted to do it! Every year, I get calls and messages asking me what operas I would suggest to bring a date to, whether they are trying to initiate their SO to join them once again or they've begun dating someone and want to impress.
Your mother approves, you need something to Step it up
Rigoletto didn't approve of his daughter Gilda's choice of suitor. And with reason. But I cannot think of a better way to really stand out from the exes than by offering to take your special someone to an opera. If you've never been to an opera, it's probably very ballsy to get a pair of tickets and invite a date for Valentine's. Gifting a pair of tickets in a dark sealed red envelope will either be fancy, daring or thoughtful. Any way it goes, it is sure to make an impression!
You may think that opera is not an option for your SO but as my mother always said: ''You can't say you don't like something if you've never tried it!'' At the time, she was talking about Brussel sprouts, but this saying most definitely applies to opera.
a choice between Verdi and Mozart
This month, the Canadian Opera Company presents The Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart and Verdi's Rigoletto. And if you're like me and my boyfriend, you'll attend both! But maybe that would be coming on a little too strong, especially if you and/or your SO are new to opera.
Don't break the bank
Many think that opera is in no way tailored for young people. Think again! If you're under 30 years old, you can get tickets for just 22$ in designated areas. Trust me, I saw Salome back in 2013 from the fifth ring and I did not miss one bit of the drama and emotion that was spiralling on stage. The Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts is well-designed and the experience you get from any seat in the hall is beautiful.
Feeling for an upgrade? Pay 35$ per ticket, and the COC will upgrade your seat on the day of the performance (depending on availability of course).
You're date is over 30? No biggie. you can get a discounted ticket for them too. Trust me on this, buy the tickets now, and take advantage of this program asap.
Night outs in Montreal with a group of friends are what I look forward to during the work week. And come Friday, I was pumped for dinner at a hip downtown restaurant followed by Opera McGill's Lucia di Lammermoor at the historic Monument National. The talent and level of performance of McGill students never cease to amaze me, and I am always looking forward to the next opera. Plus, this Donizetti's opera is one of my all-time favourites, so I was curious to see how Opera McGill would decide to stage it.
Before attending the performance, I strongly suggest watching the mini Youtube series that Opera McGill does for their productions. Filmmaker Anne Kostalas takes us inside the opera with sneak-peaks of the rehearsals and the costume atelier. The students also give their point of views on their characters which is great insight on what to expect from their stage performance.
Three Lucias, one mad scene
''We have three viable Lucias. Gina Hanzlik, Carolyn Beaudoin and Brittany Rae all see her as very different and are bringing great interpretations to the role with subtle changes to fit who their Lucia is.'' said stage manager Russell Wustenberg. Gina Hanzlik was the first to perform the role and gave an incredible performance on Friday night. It is clear that she has put extensive thought into her character; from setting the opera innocently in love to complete powerlessness as she is forced into an arranged marriage, and finally, driven to utter madness. During the famous mad scene, you could have heard a needle drop. The audience was completely transported and gasped for air, awaiting the final moment.
A drink with your opera?
And an evening at the opera would not be complete without a drink! Since Lucia di Lammermoor is set in Scotland - more precisely in the Lowlands - and the opera premiered in Naples, Italy, we suggest pairing your opera evening with either red Italian wine or Scotch (of course). Lacryma Christi de Vesuvio is a Neapolitan type of wine from Campania and it is dry, medium-bodied with firm tannins. Great with tomato sauce, it will pair up nicely with a thin crust Italian pizza. Plus, to add even more drama, the appellation of this wine translates to ''tears of God''.
If you're feeling for something stronger, try Glenkinchie 12 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Founded in 1825, this distellery is located in the Lowlands, outside of Edinburgh, which incidentally turns out to be not far from the Lammermuir Hills. The nose is light and the palate fruity with no peatiness.