Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Day at the Opera

I attended the movie theater presentation of the Metropolitan Opera production of Puccini's La Rondine (The Swallow). La Rondine tells the lighthearted (and lightweight) story of Magda, courtesan who falls for a young man from the country. Magda leaves the rich old banker that is keeping her and runs off with her young beau for a merry fling until the money runs out. Then Magda assesses her future and decides that she is too impure to marry the young man. Much weeping ensues and Magda returns, swallowlike, to the rich banker.

I was quite put off by the opera's unfair treatment of the rich banker. He seemed like a decent old fellow, deserving of more respect. He patiently put up with Magda's featherheaded impulses. He was a solid businessman: after all, it's no easy matter to gather sufficient wealth to keep a Parisian mistress. And he had a good, strong bass voice. From my perspective, the rich banker was a much better catch than some callow and insolvent bumpkin from the country.

My perspective finds support from business writer and humorist Stanley Bing, who wrote:

"Retirement is a prime opportunity to bang the gong and get it on. Have an affair with your yoga instructor! Strike up an acquaintance with that dental hygienist you've had an eye on since the time you had teeth! Younger people are often attracted to affluent older individuals who look even marginally acceptable. I put that in boldface because it's a key insight. You may now be able to nab someone you had no right to when you were 30."