Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Lunch, or Traviata II: Breath Deeper

September 13, 2006

At lunch today my good friends Kate and Deborah came up with an excellent idea for a competition this opera season.

(While we were waiting for our food to arrive our waitress removed a small container of jelly and butter from our table and then gave it to other diners without any comment to us.
D: How does she know that I don’t want to use any of that jelly?
K: I don’t think you’re ready for that Jelly.
Hilarity ensues.)

Several years ago, we attended a great production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. During a very tense and angry exchange between Walter Younger and his mother, an elderly patron behind us turned to her companion and delivered this keen commentary: “You know what his problems is. He just can’t adjust.” Best of all, we didn’t have to wait for the next day’s paper or even intermission for this analysis - it was provided free of charge during the performance.

Luckily for us all this was not a one-time event. Everywhere we go there seem to be audience members full of witty bon mots and piercing insight that must be shared while the artists are performing on stage. Many of these individuals are aware that this might bother their fellow audience members and therefore make concerted efforts to save their commentary for particularly slow or uninteresting parts in the productions like, say, the arias and duets in an opera for instance. After my relating an experience from over the week-end, Kate and Deborah suggested that we should have a competition for the most outlandish thing overheard from a fellow audience member over the course of the next season. This was quickly agreed to, and I was thrilled to have the first entry for our annual “He just can’t adjust” award for concurrent theater criticism.

I had related to my friends that on Saturday’s performance of La Traviata at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, I had the distinct privilege of overhearing some sage commentary from my neighbors in the theater that was both keen and inspiring. The woman next to me, lets call her Mrs. Chatterson, seemed to have some sort of bad asthmatic condition that caused her to gasp for air every time the curtain rose on one of the incredibly banal Marta Domingo sets. By Act III, she decided talking to her husband might alleviate this condition and asked him to speculate on whether or not Alfredo being so close to Violetta might result in him developing a positive PPD in the future. While other clearly unsympathetic and uninspired audience members around us quickly shushed them, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. This is Hollywood and I believe Mrs. Chatterson had just handed me pure sequel gold. La Traviata is so popular, that I’m sure Traviata II: Breath Deeper is money in the bank. Alfredo, enraged by his lovers death and now infected with TB returns home on a stealth revenge campaign to infect his sister and all of her ungrateful offspring in revenge for the sorrows that have befallen him. Mmm, delicious.

If you have a story you’d like to share, feel free. There’s no real prize other than undying admiration but that hasn’t ever stopped you before.

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