A shadow of ignorance

Tales of Everyday Life

Columns | Vienna Review | April 2012

I went to the opera on a recent Saturday to see Richard Strauss’ Frau ohne Schatten, which I’ve seen it in New York, Dresden, Vienna and Florence. It is my favourite opera. After the second act, which was already greeted with enthusiastic applause, a young man from Milan (who, as it turns out, lives 15 minutes from the opera house La Scala) approached me and politely but sincerely asked if the opera was finished, or if there was still more to come. I couldn’t believe that an Italian (of all people) was so clueless about opera, but also the Frau doesn’t receive her Schatten until Act 3.

It reminded me of an American I overheard, who upon viewing statue Rape of Proserpina at the Villa Borghese in Rome, astutely observed that the subject was clearly "retaining water." Good Grief!

- Stanley Hale

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