Act 2, Scene 16
A Night at the Opera

Ancient Rome, The Italian Renaissance, And Postmodern Love

by Frederick Noble

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Did you ever have one of those days that seems like everything's going to be ultimately perfect, then something comes along to fuck it all up, but then, by some miracle, it turns around again and things are going well, only to have your hopes dashed again, sometimes again and again so that in the end you're exhausted and irritable all the way through the next day? I hope so. I'd hate to think I was being singled out for this privilege.
As mentioned, an opera had been serenading us nightly through their open window during rehearsals as we sat on the wall on the edge of the town, watching the sunset and eating gelato. The company was leaving to travel Italy, but before they left they were doing a kickoff performance in Cortona.
I asked Heather to go to the opera with me. No, it’s not my style of music and I was burnt out on theater at a young age after being raised backstage by a set designer and director father. But the idea of being in a dark theater box, sipping from a smuggled bottle of wine, possibly disappearing behind the banister onto the floor with Heather, sounded perfect. I didn’t tell her my fantasy, hoping to surprise her.
She accepted the invite, with the same reservations about opera as my own. But she’d try anything once.
I picked up a bottle of our favorite vino and found out what time that night’s show was, then tried to finish my painting for the student show. I was not in the mood to paint and quickly got impatient, finally giving up.
Then it looked like Heather wouldn’t have time to make it since she needed to finish her work for the student show as well. So I helped and together we worked our asses off, finally resorting to massive power tools to carve her wooden puppet project instead of the slow and steady method. We argued a bit about how to get it done. I was out of patience. I just wanted her to give it up for the night and get ready for the show, but she couldn’t let it go so we stayed until it was finished.

We hurried to the dorm to get ready. I was hyper with hormones and beaming with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. Or some kind of visions dancing in my head. I got a shower, dressed in my one set of semi-nice clothes and headed to Heather’s room to pick her up.
Only to find she’d invited her roommates, and our friend Beth, and Beth’s roommate. They were all joining us in our box.
I sulked, but I didn’t want to give away my plan, hoping we could go the next night without the whole entourage, though I was already in the mood for the plan to work that night. But Beth was feeling down so Heather insisted we try to cheer her up. I opened the wine and we drank it on the way to the theater.

It turned out the theater was the building at which we’d received the town’s marching band welcome, the one that sounded like a melting phonograph. I hoped this evening’s musical entertainment was a vast improvement.
I snuck the bottle in with us and we headed up the stairs to a balcony box. Inside the place was beautiful, in a tired, slightly run-down fashion. It was exactly like the theater from The Muppet Show, small with a couple rows of balconies lining the walls, dark with peeling paint and red velvet seats. Classic opera house.
There were a couple seats in the front of our box and a couple in back. We gave the other ladies the seats up front and I passed the bottle around.
There was a very minimalist stage setting, a pedestal with a vase, a chair and not much else. We spotted a couple of other friends in the crowd and they came up to join us. We ran out of seats so Heather sat in my lap and we were one big happy family as the show began. The actors wore modern suits and sang well, though it was all in Italiano and got dull quickly. I looked around the theater and watched some of the other students enjoying the show, some gradually falling asleep. We neared the end of the wine and things were slightly blurring. Bored and bold, I slipped my hand up Heather’s skirt when nobody was looking. I couldn’t get far in the booth crowded with our friends but I did my best to make sure Heather knew what I’d had in mind for the evening. By the end of the show we were both flushed, and not from the wine.
On the way home she leaned over and apologized for inviting everyone else along, “I didn’t know it would be like that.” she said.
“Yeah, well, how about we try again tomorrow night?” I said, only mildly irritated.
“OK!” she said. I knew her well enough to know what was going through her head, since it had been going through my head all day.
The next day I found out the performance was one night only and all those wonderful mental pictures would remain only that - mental pictures.

Fuck.

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