30th of October 2017
2nd Period / Act II
Prior to both a hockey game and an opera commencing, the anticipation in the air is palpable. Whether it be the tuxedo-clad conductor, snaking their way through the cramped rows of instrumental desks, or the masked goaltender, menacingly appearing onto the rink through a haze of lights and Dry Ice; we shower them with welcoming applause. We wait. We anticipate.
The ensuing action on an ice rink perhaps could not be likened to the haunting opening oboe figure of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, but instead is more comparable to the opening three note figure of Strauss’ Elektra. It is percussive, energetic, enthralling and powerful. I experience a similar feeling of exhilaration as both events commence. The journey has begun, the rules of engagement are set, and the game is off.
For me, the best that opera and sport has to offer is a delightful mix of emotion, enthralling story telling and provocation. The dramatic themes of rivalry, vengeance, pursuit, enterprise, camaraderie, self-sacrifice, crimes of passion, remorse and ambition are all dealt with by opera and hockey. Both audiences are subjected to emotional journeys, that are changed at will by the protagonists on their respective stages. We feel an emotional bond to these central characters. We long for Luke Adam to score an 80ft goal as much as we wish for Wagner’s Walther von Stolzing to get the girl. We long for certain outcomes: be this a 3-2 score line or a resolved love story.
Currywurst vs Brezel, Prosecco vs Pilsner, the customary evening wear vs the replica team jersey. We may make different choices, but the desired experience, the established etiquettes and the sheer drama experienced at both are undoubtably similar. If we look past terminology, see a fan as an audience member, and an audience as a crowd, strip the events down to their core values, I believe one can easily find the similarities between peoples experiences.
Whether we watch the drama unfold in front of us in a sporting arena or a theatre, it strikes me that such experiences, such stories, are nourishing. I wholeheartedly recommend the Adlers of Mannheim to try an evening at the opera, and visa versa. Let the drama at both events take hold of you. Enjoy their similarities, and embrace their differences.
Daniel J. Farrimond