The story of yesterday that stands today
by: Alia Muhammad Radzi
This was my second time watching an opera. The first time around was actually for Don Giovanni, which was also held at the Krannert Center of the Performing Arts. It is odd to put the two side by side, as they are so different in story and origin. However, the effect of weaving in opera into the story telling dramatizes the performance, and compels the audience to grieve and experience with the characters. For me, repetition is a powerful tool that conveys strength in delivery, which might not come out as organically if not sung. Nonetheless, there were some parts (like the piece on flowers, which I know was necessary to contrast the situation between what had happened and what is) which I thought were rather slow, and hoped to pass faster, though it would be impossible in a sense given the nature of opera.
That said, a lot can be observed from the opera that still remains relevant today. The opera and the play was penned slightly later, but the story of Lucretia had been around for quite some time as part of ancient Rome. The grief that was potrayed, after a traumatic event stemming from power play, is what many women go through today, making the story relevant in today’s world. Lucretia, who is “virtuous”, considers herself defiled or unworthy, despite her being the victim. I will do an injustice by writing such a short comment on this serious issue, but, in many instances, women today keep quiet on sexual assault, because the consequent of being the victim sometimes outweighs the justice of punishing a perpetrator, if that is even possible in the first place. I grew up in a country where being born male gives you a free pass to vices, and being a female means you are always on the defense. Thus, the outcome of the play was not surprising, because when someone is wronged and justice is ignored, your soul experiences the equivalent of a physical death, in my opinion.
The screen above the stage was a welcoming presence. Despite the opera being in English, the words sung are hard to fathom as they are drawn out in long notes. One thing that I had learnt from my first viewing, was that I would read the lyrics the first time around fast, and try to intently hear the singers word them out. This helped me a lot from being distracted by the screen.