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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

BadFellas

Or: Five Lousy Dates for Valentine's Day
In honor of this most romantic of holidays, here's a list of five guys who you wouldn't want to be dating on February 14, or any day of the year. This was originally going to be "Five dumbest opera heroes" but I couldn't decide between Siegfried and Parsifal.

Baron Ochs von Lerchnau (Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss)
Ol' Ochs has more experience of the ladies than anyone on this list, but there's a reason this lecherous Austrian nobleman has stayed single. He's a relentless skirt-chaser, outdoing Don Giovanni himself in pursuit of a shapely female. But he's a boor, a coward, and a sufferer of romantic ADD! Witness: Act One of Rosenkavalier. Ochs gropes a crossdressing chambermaid while trying to negotiate his marriage contract (and add on a large emoulument for himself).


Lohengrin (um...Lohengrin by Richard Wagner)
At first glance, the courtly knight in shining armor looks like perfect hubby material. He's even a fan of love at first sight, defending women in single combat, and settling down and getting married. But there's a catch: he'll marry you but you're not allowed to ask him about his name, his lineage, or where he came from. Needless to say, he catches the next swan-drawn boat out of town.




Mustafa, the Bey of Algiers (L'Italiana in Algeri by Gioacchino Rossini)
The Bey has his heart in the right place. Unfortunately it's the harem. This rascally ruler spends most of L'Italiana in Algeri trying to seduce the lovely Isabella. She spends the opera trying to escape. Finally she convinces her would-be Lothario that the only way she'll ever have the Bey is if he joins the sacred order of the Pappitaci, those very Italian men who do nothing all day but eat, sleep, and ignore their women. Who said romance isn't dead?

The Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi)
This guy is almost as bad a skirt chaser as Baron Ochs--but with even less morality. At the start of Rigoletto the Duke sends the Count of Monterone to the gallows/. Why? Monterone complained when the Duke deflowered his daughter. Our randy ruler then turns his attentions to Gilda, (the daughter of the titular court jester), claiming to be a poor student named "Gualtier Malde." When the Duke tosses Gilda aside for the slutty sister of a professional hitman, Rigoletto vows revenge. Since this is Verdi, a bloody ending isn't far away.

Wozzeck (Wozzeck by Alban Berg)
This Army private isn't a bad guy. He has a nice kid and a girlfriend named Marie. Wozzeck suffers from instestinal humiliation at the hands of his doctor (who makes him eat nothing but beans) and general abuse from his superior officers. Marie cuckolds him with the sexy Drum Major, who then beats up Wozzeck. He snaps, murders Marie, throws the knife into a lake, and then drowns looking for it. Not the sort you settle down with. (Ironically, about nine years ago, the Met scheduled a V-day performance of Wozzeck.)
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.