Friday, January 25, 2013

Night at the Opera: Doubt

Before the opera began, we had an opportunity to meet with the director and writer of the show.

The writer, when asked if he worried that people would see the movie "Doubt" and bring certain preconceived notions and opinions to the opera experience, he said the following (paraphrased as closely as possible):

"Let them bring their preconceptions. I want them to, and I want to see those preconceptions thrown on the ground and shattered into a million pieces. If Doubt doesn't do that, then we haven't done our jobs."

I applauded at that, because hot damn, I could tell we were in for a good show!

I wasn't wrong. Doubt is from all fronts a fantastic production. The sets and scene transitions were well handled, using interesting cinematic "fades" instead of simply darkening the stage so the crew could hustle to make changes. The sets themselves, while deceptively simple, were evocative of the mood and era this story portrayed. It goes without saying that the cast was phenomenal, but I've learned to expect no less from the Minnesota Opera. The orchestra was completely on target, to the point where I forgot there were people with instruments in the pit, and felt as though the music were simply springing from the atmosphere.

The story itself was intriguing, and to be sure, I brought my own prejudices to my seat with me. Having grown up as a Catholic, and even attending Catholic school for a few years, there was much of this setting that resonated with me. The suspicions cast on Father Flynn regarding his relationship with a boy student were uncomfortably similar to a (thankfully indirect) experience I had in my confirmation class. Yet, I couldn't help but give Father Flynn the benefit of the doubt, especially as Sister Aloysius' methods to expose his guilt grew increasingly shady. I felt that the story definitely served its purpose and lived up to its name; by the end, I still hadn't decided who (if anyone) was right, and who (if anyone) was guilty of wrong. I had so many doubts.

I started sketching on my digital tablet, but unfortunately the battery gave out far sooner than I'd hoped, so I switched to "analogue" drawing just before intermission. Here are the results of my doodling. Pardon the quality on the paper drawings, as my scanner is still a bit fussy, so I had to use a digital camera to capture the images.

Slight spoilers ahead!

My digital sketches:

And my marker-and-paper sketches:

Aloysius and Flynn face off.

Because nuns falling are always funny.

Discussing the Christmas Pageant. Aloysius is not impressed.

Aloysius speaking with Donald's mother.

Sister James thinks Sister Aloysius is being totally unfair.

Sisters James and Aloysius share a moment.

So, hey, if you have a chance to go to the Opera, DO! If you have your "doubts" about Doubt, let me assure you that you won't be disappointed. The music is amazing and very innovative for the medium (more a capella singing than I was expecting!), the performances are masterful, and the story is sure to get your gears turning. And for those of you worried that this is going to be another of those stuffy, old-fashioned stories that you just can't get into, Doubt has its share of shocking moments and (sometimes slightly raunchy and juvenile) humor. This is a thoroughly enjoyable show. 



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