Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Night With Carman

A Night With Carman
Weather Temp--minus 24C Wind--3-5mph from the west

Every quarter each Zone (city) attends some kind of cultural event that is typical of the local people and instructive about their ways and attitudes. We have been to a dozen ballets, a hockey game, and a folk dance and music show. 

This time we were influenced by Alexander, an investigator who is a member of the local opera company and suggested that we attend this production because it is a family friendly show and appropriate for the missionaries. He has been associated with several sets of the elders and has attended church with us so we had confidence in his suggestion.

Alexander invited some of us to come back stage before the performance. Sister Cindy, Elder McConnaghey, and I met him and were escorted around back stage to see how things look from that perspective.

Having been to many performances in this theater, it was interesting to see it from the stage. Here we see the workers cleaning and preparing the stage for the performance as we took the tour. Here is the front view for comparison.

Here Sister Cindy and Elder McConnaghey talk with Alexander about the theater as I take pictures around the back stage area. I noticed that scenery items for other shows were covered and stored beyond the audience's view and I am sure we would see them in other performances.

Walking through the dressing room and other backstage areas, it shows the age of the theater, having been built during the Stalin era and being used four or five performances a week since that time. I cannot even imagine the number of performances that have been staged since that time and the ghosts of all that time are surely haunting that place.

As we met some of the performers and then saw them on stage it was an interesting transformation in my head, seeing the before and after. The costumes and makeup really transform them into the characters.

Alexander played several parts, one being a soldier. Here he is with Elder McConnaghey and the female love interest of the main character before he gets mixed up with Carmen.

Although Alexander said it was missionary appropriate, this production definitely was not. As one of the sisters said at the first intermission, "Well, that had everything (the first act) that I am suppose to avoid on a mission". We all were a little shocked, especially me because I knew the story line and had seen one performance many years ago that was pure white-bread compared to this one. This production had been Russianized and was full of inappropriate touching, revealing clothes, suggestive posturing, drunkenness, and a half-dozen other White Book violations. We all hoped that it would get better in the subsequent acts, but it was still pretty raunchy. That surely ruined our opera experience and poisoned the well for any future performances. It is so frustrating to go to a performance expecting something acceptable but getting embarrassed and surprised. We will stick to folk dancing and symphonies from now on.

All twenty of us were seated in the 5th and 6th row and had a good view of the performance. Here we are with the Trejos during the first of four intermissions.  Sister Trejo's expression tells it all.

The curtain call was most welcome and we all left knowing that we should have left in the first intermission. It was another lesson in acting on the spirit's promptings.

A mission includes many successes and a few uncomfortable lessons. This was certainly that for all of us senior missionaries who should have led our lambs out of the theater right away. It serves to strengthen all of our resolve to act when prompted and be the leaders we came here to be.

Every culture has its threshold of tolerance for conduct and ours in the world-wide Church certainly has one a notch above what we have experienced here. The email to the senior couples from President Trejo the next morning reminded us all that it is up to us to show the way and we were all called to repentance and strengthened in our resolve to do a better job of protecting our missionaries. What a lesson.

What a country


1 comment:

Trisha said...

What a lesson to remember.