Saturday was opening night for “Tosca” at the Detroit Opera House, and it’s a tossup what was more entertaining — the Puccini or the people-watching. Fortunately, there were two intermissions.
Women in floor-length dresses, weird party frocks with bubble hems and mink off-the-shoulder necklines, anything black, Lucite necklaces, pearls, bling. (And Botox. Shiny face was everywhere.) Men in black tie, regular tie, T-shirts, shaved heads and mohawks. One hot tranny-ish mess, well over six feet, in towering silver stripper heels and strapless satin dress, hair the color of cherry Kool-Aid.
Opera fans. Who knew?
“Tosca” was very enjoyable. I can’t speak with much authority, as it’s only the second opera I’ve seen performed. The first was at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Bizet’s “Carmen.” As I recall, the singing was fine, but the company was so impoverished the staging was minimal, not much more than a bare stage. Add to that the book (French) and the supertitles (Spanish), and it was, literally, pretty much all blah-blah to me.
Supertitles gave opera a second wind when they were introduced in the 1980s. I’m sure there’s some purist out there who disapproves, but I’m not one of them. I don’t speak Italian, German or French, and my music education was spotty enough that I need and appreciate a little help.
“Tosca” is pretty accessible, though; it’s Italian, the music is glorious, the plot a simple matter of jealousy, political oppression, betrayal, rape (attempted), murder, tragedy and suicide. What’s not to like? And when Tosca pours out her heart —
Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore,
non feci mai male ad anima viva!
(I lived for art, I lived for love,
Never did I harm a living soul!)
— who can’t sympathize?
That was Saturday. Sunday brought the redemption our recession-battered state needs. Break out the hummus and kebabs, Miss Michigan was named Miss USA.
Hummus? Yes. Miss Michigan is Arab-American, a nice Lebanese girl from Dearborn, Rima Fakih. Reportedly she’s Shi’ite Muslim. The photos of her in her un-burka alone will likely keep her father up at night, for fear of both a fatwa and Donald Trump, come a-courting with his tongue hanging out. She is, how you young men say? Smokin’.
Seriously, however, this backgrounder on Fakih from the Freep is a pretty good picture of this community, its contradictions and, for want of a better word, diversity. She grew up in Queens and moved to Michigan seven years ago. The story mentions her being in high school when 9/11 happened — a Catholic school. In other words, Miss USA is a pretty American girl.
However! Already the far-right carping has begun. Roy has the roundup. Ahem:
Tonight, they celebrated and laughed at us from within at Dearbornistan’s Hezbollah restaurant, La Pita, where workers openly sing Hezbollah war songs and anti-Semitic “ditties” in the kitchen. It was the site of Fakih’s victory party, where falafel, and hummus, and hate were all on the menu, as they usually are there and throughout Fakih’s community.
Falafel, hummus and hate were on the menu. I’m going to write that one down.
I suspect, at the end of all this, Fakih will take her big pile of dough, spend it on law school tuition, and maybe, insh’allah, meet the author of the above passage in court someday. Now that’s something I’d like to see on prime-time television.
Not to crash the mood too much, but a little bikini news was welcome after the far more tragic incident earlier in the weekend, in which police executing a no-knock warrant in Detroit accidentally shot and killed a 7-year-old girl. More will be revealed on this one, no doubt; the current official version is that the first person police encountered tussled with them in some way, causing the gun to go off. I’m withholding judgment, but Jesus Christ, no-knock warrants? Flash-bang grenades? Note this detail:
Outside the home, the department’s special response team was prepared to go in. Film crews with A&E’s “The First 48” reality show, which follows police departments nationwide during the crucial 48 hours after a homicide is committed, were taping the team for a documentary. Police spokesman John Roach said the tapes will be reviewed as part of the investigation.
I’m sure that had nothing to do with the decision to go in like gangbusters, right?
We’ll see. In the meantime, I have Monday to get into gear, and an aria to sing in the shower.