The Tragic Story of Lucretia

Written by Lesly Marroquin

A Roman legend that discusses the tragedy that started a rebellion to end the Roman Monarchy and birth a Republic.

I was really excited to see an opera for the first time at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, even more so to see an opera in which I have background knowledge. In high school, I took Latin for four years and so I studied Roman history, mythologies, and legends extensively. All which include rich stories that dive into human emotions, morality, and debate human nature.

One of the most significant events is thought to be this incident with Lucretia, because it caused the rebellion that sought to end the days of Rome being a monarchy. From such a tragic and horrific event, the Roman Empire was created.

I was surprised that the play did not focus on this at all but more on the incident itself, which surprised me. This is because I felt that the events building to the assault of Lucretia were pretty long and boorish, while the event itself was not something I looked forward to witnessing. Everything after was also pretty sad, especially the ending of this opera. I was sad that the vengeance of Lucretia was not explained as much through the play as it was through the legends of Roman story telling. I personally appreciated that many looked to bringing justice to Tarquinius for violating someone so horribly.

For a first time experience, it was not something bad but very much a new experience. I was deeply impressed by the vocal range of the performers, the costumes, background, and entire set up. While this opera might not be something I would enthusiastically watch again, I am compelled to go see other operas. Perhaps I will enjoy a different story or genre since this was a tragedy. I was also impressed by the way they portrayed such strong human emotions through song. The scene of Lucretia’s assault was not graphic but the song really made me feel horrified with the incident. Especially in contrast to how she sang when she was happy, it was a great emotional presentation by part of the performer of Lucretia.

Also to note, I did not feel like I was watching something from Rome but a whole different location and universe. The setting and costumes made me think of a story from a magical world being told, especially with the narrators being dressed relatively modern (In comparison to the B.C. era). The subtitles also being used enhanced this, since the opera was not in another language. I felt like I was turning the pages of a book and reading the story myself. It was unique, since this is the first I have ever interpreted a show like this. At the same time, it did distract me a couple times from paying attention to the stage.

Lastly, I came early to the performance to see if there was going to be an activity in the lobby and was I pleasantly surprised. There was a jazz trio playing enthusiaticly and it really had me feeling great before the show. This and the opera deeply contrasted each other’s vibes as one was funky and fun while the other was tragic and emotional. I was glad that the KPAC gave me a range of emotions to end my day with. I felt calm and chill, tense and nervous, and then sad for Lucretia. It was a great experience.

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