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An evening out with Sauce and an opera

On Saturday C and I had our first evening out in months. We dined at Sauce. It's a new restaurant and it was fairly quiet. The staff was pretty efficient and very pleasant. Unfortunately the food had problems. Maybe we just picked the wrong dishes, or maybe it just needs to work things out. The ingredients were all fresh and things were cooked properly, but the different tastes and texture didn't meld well together.

The concept of the restaurant is comfort food meets Californian Asian-Fusion cuisine. The theme ingredient a la Iron Chef was bacon. Now I love bacon, but bacon has a very strong flavor and can overwhelm any dish. My entree was tender warm salmon over a bed of spinach. The bacon in the spinach drowned out the delicate flavour of the salmon, so I ate the salmon separately. Unfortunately the bacon combined with horseradish dressing overwhelmed me. C's meatloaf was also wrapped in bacon, but it fared better. My starter, chicken soup, was delicious and subtle, but at first I thought it was bland. I was eating it with the bits of roast chicken that came with the soup. Unfortunately the roast chicken was very dry and sucked the taste out of my mouth. Once I set it aside, I enjoyed my soup a lot more.

Then we went to our first opera of the summer season, The Pearl Fishers It's one of Bizet's early works and it's no Carmen. The first half of the opera I kept getting distracted by the clunky plot and the clearly Christian metaphors and concepts with Hindu gods occasionally thrown in. I read part of a review in the program that said the relationship between Zurga and Nadir was all about Leila. Then the second half, the opera finally made sense and I was sucked into the opera.

The story was really about Zurga's love of Nadir. He has the "love that dare not speak its name." in the time the opera was written. In the first act, the gay couple are reunited and sing a tender duet about never parting. The words are a classic lovers reunited duet. When Nadir falls in love with Leila, Zurga's horribly jealous and makes Nadir swear not to see her again. He says he loves Leila too. Yeah, right. But Nadir breaks his oath and makes Leila break her oath to remain veiled at all times. And so Nadir condemns them both to death.

In the second act after the het couple has been sentenced, Zurga sings "One thought torments me: Nadir." He sings his anguish about Nadir; not one mention of Leila at all. He wonders how he can free Nadir. Then Leila appears to beg for Nadir's life and proclaims her love for Nadir. Zurga fumes with jealousy and rage. He says he wants Leila, but his assault is more violent and angry than loverlike. He's jealous, because he realises he's lost Nadir.

Then at the end, Zurga sets fire to the village, so Nadir and Leila can escape. He's killed for his crimes. As with many operatic heroines, he sacrifices himself for the man he loves.

I usually make it a rule not to read opera reviews beforehand. I find they color my views unfairly. I think a lot of opera critics miss gay and feminist themes in operas. I don't think it would have taken me so long to recognise Zurga's love if I hadn't read that review.

In my youth, especially in high school, I was a bit of a fag hag. Opera satisfies that desire. A lot of operas have gay lovers that often pass under the radar of the het audience and critics. I enjoy that. I also enjoy the juxaposition of older het couples and younger gay couples. I enjoy opera's drama and absurdity that allows a composer to explore the fundamental questions of the human existence.