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Updated on the 15th of every month

Reverend Cibby goes to the Opera

by Reverend Cibby

Under mounting pressure from the editorial staff at the corporation, I've decided to discontinue my typical style of writing - that is, long, rambling narratives with little to no historical fact. This month, I'm going to focus on something a little less abstract...a little less surreal...

This month, I write about the Opera.

In particular, I happened to catch Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, by Claudio Monteverdi, one of the most important figures in opera history. It is claimed, arguably, that he penned the first true opera, and has contributed greatly to the two defining periods, Renaissance and Baroque. It's hard to summarize the achievements of Monteverdi in an editorial, but I think Midnight Oil said it best in their timeless song:

'How can we dance when our earth is turning
how do we sleep while our beds are burning'

Midnight Oil is, of course, Australia's best known racist rock band, whose underlying tones of white supremacy are only offset by the incredible alien-style ugliness of their lead singer. No, you moron, the Abbos were there before you, you fucking loser.

Aboriginal - 1: being the first or earliest known of its kind present in a region.

While Australian aboriginals were worshipping the rocks and ritually cremating the dead, Monteverdi was hard at work, scratching out lyrics to Il ritorno d'Ulisse, stroking his long moustache and taking a bath once a year. A musical interpretation of the ending of Homer's Odyssey, Il ritorno hits us with its best shot, with Ulysses dressing in disguise to fool his tall and elegant wife.

In Ancient Greece, there was a lot more trickery going on. You couldn't just ask a girl out, or expect your wife to give you a big hug after 20 years at sea. No, you had to be a little clever and try to fool your women. Changing form into a swan or a bull in order to seduce a lady - that's like reading the newspaper back in Ancient Greece - it happened everyday.

Yep, romance has gotten incredibly boring compared to those days. Modern women have to settle for regular men, with no special abilities, with no hidden strength, no Twelve Tasks, no escaping from remote Siberian prisons, no passive resistance.

No. Women, these days, have to settle for men wearing glasses who moan when they nick themselves with a razor, and consider themselves to be 'essentially a feminist.'

But Penelope? The wife of Ulysses is justified in waiting. Her husband has just tricked the Cyclops, resisted the Sirens and is the only one strong enough to string his bow, making him the essence of masculinity, more so than Alexander the Great, more than Napoleon, and even more than Steve McQueen.

Last weekend, I saw a version of Il ritorno in the Pollock theatre that featured a Ulysses that was several inches shorter than his Penelope. I crossed my eyes in confusion, but I let myself be lifted past disbelief by his solid tenor voice. Not so with the elderly gentleman sitting next to me, who was so upset that he snorted in agitation during the first act and left after the intermission.

Not really, since I saw him sitting a few rows back, nudging his wife and pointing at me. Clearly, he was offended by my overwhelming stench of youth, and could not enjoy the opera with a rebellious juvenile next to him. As the opera came to a close and the singers gave their fastidious little bows, I thought of him as I clapped with enthusiasm. I pictured him furrowing his hairy, white eyebrows and exhaling through his nose like an overripe bull.

'William, wasn't the opera simply lovely?' his wife, Margaret, would ask him as they removed their coats in the lobby of their modestly-decorated NDG home.

Instead of answering, William would pour himself a large Scotch and sit stonily as his wife called their children, both of which are running massive tuition bills at respectable universities.

At the same time, I was being crosschecked to the ground by some angry punk in an intramural ball hockey game - division 'B'. I leapt to my feet and stared him in the face, ready to erupt in a blitz of Kung-Fu and drunken boxing, but something held me back. Inside, I was empty of anger...the memory of Ulysses and his son, Telemachus, singing in rapturous harmony, calmed the vicious storm and unclenched my rocky fists.

Updated on the 15th of every month

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