The curtains open and we find ourselves in the middle of a porn scene. Platinum blondes, dressed in colourful plastic-clothes, are doing some sexy pole dancing. Pimp-like men walk around with a rolling gait. The setting is industrial and cold, illuminated by very bright neon lights. When a woman offers to give a blow-job to a costumer, two grey haired people in front of me huddle together whispering. They remind me that we are in the Icelandic Opera.
The trashy stage design made quite a contrast with the classy ambiance of the opera. Behind the inconspicuous looking facade we found a posh foyer with chandeliers and old wooden bars where you can buy a glass of wine and snacks, which seems a little unusual for the opera though. Painted in pastel green, rose and gold with rose coloured upholstered seats, the two-story auditorium made us feel like we were living in the Roaring Twenties.
A lot of =mostly grey haired = visitors got dressed up and came to see Verdi’s Rigoletto that night, blessing the Icelandic Opera with a full house. Rigoletto, a hunchbacked court jester, has a tense relationship with the Duke, who seduces Rigoletto’s daughter. After two hours of duplicity and a lot of singing, the daughter dies, and it’s kind of Rigoletto’s fault. This is how I understood the Italian arias with Icelandic subtitles. But understanding the story is maybe not what the opera is about. It is about the music, the emotion, the expression, right?
Everything was a little too much: too much emotion, too much tulle on the princess-like dress of the daughter, too much trying to be critical of the over-sexed society = or was this just another contribution to it? However there were brilliant moments, like when Ólafur Kjartan Sigurðarson, AKA Rigoletto, filled the whole room with his strong voice, or when the men’s choir came on – those were my favourite parts of the opera.
After a very long applause and uncountable bows, we leave the opera and find ourselves in downtown Reykjavík once again. It is Friday night and when we watch the skinkas and hnakkis drinking beer and flirting. We think: this might have been the inspiration for the porn-like stage design.
Rigoletto is showing at the Icelandic Opera at Ingólfsstræti, 101 Reykjavík. The next scheduled performances are Saturday November 6, Sunday November 7, Saturday November 13 and Sunday November 14.
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