How beautiful is the Neuchâtel castle? It looms over the city, and you can see it with perfect clarity as your train pulls in or out of the train station. It's one of my favorite views, and I've been waiting to catch it in the snow. It does not disappoint...
I've been in Neuchâtel since getting back from Paris, here to see Orphée aux Enfers at the opera with A's mom (a truly beautiful performance) and to spend some time with his family and friends. It's been a lovely experience. I'm growing to like the city more and more, and this snowy visit may have finally, truly won me over.
Before A and I started dating last year, he wrote a blog post imagining what an opera about different post-structuralist philosophers would be like, referring to Derrida and Butler and punny arias like "Perform thy gender, love." I found this post in the days after we first met, and it confirmed what I suspected after that first meeting – that I'd finally met someone who loved opera, had a sense of humor about it, and was consequently oddly and remarkably well-suited to my person. In other words, it confirmed that I'd met the perfect man (calm rationality and my exasperation with men be damned!)! Naturally, thanks to the extreme joy caused by the revelation that he liked opera so much he could intelligently joke about it, I went on to refer to him almost exclusively as "Post-structuralist Opera Boy" when talking about him to my friends for weeks afterwards.
Then, on our first two dates, A went on and on about how much he likes opera and classical music, rambling to the point where he felt the need to apologize. He was a bit embarrassed, but I was so pleased by his enthusiasm that it was eventually what drove me over the edge and caused me to confess my feelings for him.
So, naturally, opera has played an important role in our dating life ever since we got together. I took A to an opera themed restaurant for his birthday, and he me to one on mine. We went to the opera together for the first time in October, while he was away in York and I was still stuck in Geneva, simultaneously attending the Met's live screening of Il Trovatore and communicating over whatsapp. We then went to an operetta for New Year's and several other – both traditional and satirical – productions by his favorite, local opera company, L'avant-scène opéra.
Then, last night, we went to see the Geneva production of Falstaff. We'd bought the tickets a couple of months before, taking advantage of their student offers, and it was our first "big" opera outing together. It was also our first time at the Opéra des Nations, the new, wooden theater where the Grand Théâtre de Genève is housing its productions while they renovate their Place de Neuve theater in the center of the city.
The new structure is located right in front of the U.N. and is extremely charming. We picnicked on the steps of an old building located in the same park before going in to our seats, and it made it seem like an even more summery experience. The wooden theater alone makes it feel seasonal – even though the theater will stand year round – and I was reminded of both childhood visits to the Ravinia Festival and to outings listening to operatic concerts on the shores of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (where hilariously, my family summered before my mom moved to the real Geneva).
Falstaff itself was wonderful, oddly yet appropriately aesthetically marrying what A identified as German Expressionism to Shakespeare's stories. I'd neither heard nor seen Falstaff performed and have only studied and seen Henry IV, Parts I & II (in Stratford in 2014) and not The Merry Wives of Windsor, so it was nice to see and hear an opera I wasn't very familiar with. A likes to read plays before seeing them and listen to operas to be prepared, but if it isn't for the sake of study, I sometimes like to go in without knowing what to expect. We spend so much time reading and rereading texts, watching and rewatching films and shows, and analyzing them all to death for study that the element of surprise is so welcome when possible. It helps me draw the fine line between work and play, and it's why I let myself be carried away by the storytelling when I read or watch things for fun. I was able to do just that with Falstaff. It was entertaining, and as a bonus, the opera also emphasized the folly of men and played up the power of women, so I was extremely happy with the whole.
Hello & Welcome!
I'm Olivia, a twenty-six year old grad student studying in Switzerland. This is where I share my thoughts on the academic journey, culture, travels, baking, and my daily life abroad. Read More.