Maybe it's my status as a card-carrying member of the MTV generation, but 10 minutes into Opera Pacific's Don Giovanni, I was out cold. The fact that bass Andrew Gangestad (as Leporello) was so clearly stealing the show only made things worse: I felt like a lesser person every time my eyelids closed. Peeking at the older British gentleman next to me (awake) and my date (awake), I was ashamed. Then I dozed off again.
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This whole how-do-I-fake-it-so-I-look-awake dance only lasted for about five minutes, but it was truly unfortunate because they were crucial minutes—upon pulling out of my Mozart coma, I was clueless. But while this means I can't really tell you the ins and outs of the Giovanni story (fun fact: it's got something to do with the legend of Don Juan) I can offer this revelation: there is an art to staying awake during operas.
Just like adjusting toe-by-toe to a pool of cold water, you have to ease into the rhythm of the opera. This can be a bit tricky, since you're able to read the English subtitles projected above the stage faster than the people on stage can sing in Italian, but once your mind adjusts to quickly reading the translation and then immediately focusing on the stage, you're set. Read, look; read, look; read, look. Ultimately, you'll find yourself switching back and forth every five or six seconds, which, in addition to really speeding the whole thing up, calls to mind another favorite pastime: watching music videos.
Sad? Yes, but not nearly so sad as the fact that there were empty seats in an audience already maxed out on geriatrics. Grab a friend and hit the cheap seats—when your kids ask what going to the opera was like in the olden days, at least you'll have an answer.
Opera Pacific presents Don Giovanni at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (800) 34-OPERA; www.operapacific.org. Thurs., Jan. 25 & Sat., 7:30 p.m. $27-$200.