It was a dark and stormy night...eh, not exactly...more like dark and drizzly - and COLD. The valet parking nazi wouldn't let us cut in front of the line of cars waiting to be parked (go figure!), so while the clock ticked ominously toward curtain opening and drizzle continued to muck up the windshield as we waited to be parked, we entertained ourselves by making odd, irritating - but completely hilarious - noises. Don't ask, you had to be there - the only reason I mention it is because it made an episode later in the evening that much more comical.
So we finally get inside the theater and find our seats just as the lights dim (perfect timing really). Okay, so I think I've established before that I like opera. Nerdy, I know - but I make no apologies. Opera is a very formal type of entertainment in that it is highly stylized, over-dramatized, story telling. One does not go to the opera to enjoy subtle acting nuances or brilliant bits of insightful scriptwriting. With opera, the story and dialogue are both secondary to the vocal and symphonic performances. The story is merely a vehicle for displaying the vocal and musical talents and as such, often comes across as melodramatic, corny, eye-rolling, triteness. Which is why sometimes it's almost better to ignore the translation screen.
The first act passed without incident - it was lovely and I was transported. F., on the other hand, was having a hard time staying awake. We hadn't gotten to any of the well-known arias yet, which was apparently the only thing that would keep him conscious.
So, F. was seated on my left. To my right (I was pleasantly surprised to notice) perched a wizened gnome. No kidding. A little old man - I'm guessing about a hundred and ten. The top of his white head didn't even clear my shoulder. Completely adorable. I don't know whether or not he was having difficulty staying awake too, but during the first part of the second act (and during the most famous aria of the entire opera), this tiny gnome accepted a piece of candy from his female companion and (I can't help laughing even as I type this) proceeded to rustle the wrapper in an effort (I can only assume) to open the treat (I'll be damned if it wasn't one of those butterscotch candies that elderly folk are so very fond of!).
For the first thirty seconds or so of rustling, the movement and the sound barely caught my attention. But then...it just went on and on...and on. It was that familiar and annoying scratchy, crinkly cellophane noise that typically lasts for a tolerable few seconds as the perpetrator unwraps the candy as quickly and quietly as possible. But, for some reason, the mechanics of the wrapper were simply eluding my little gnome and the rustling was ceaseless. And then after a couple of minutes, I looked over at F. and I just completely lost it! A fit of giggles overtook me and the more the gnome crinkled and fidgeted with his candy, the more I shook with laughter - I think I even snorted (loudly) at one point.
You know how one little thing can tickle you at an inopportune moment and then it just snowballs. And the more you try to contain your mirth, the harder it is to stop. So there we were...F. and I, shaking with laughter over the incessant crinkly noises issuing forth from my gnome who, I really think was so concentrated on getting that damn butterscotch unwrapped, was completely oblivous to our plight. At one point, the rustling abruptly stopped and we managed to calm ourselves down. But then it started again! - the same piece of candy - the gnome was merely resting his weary fingers (I think that was the point where I snorted).
Aaaaaanyway, after my gnome finally conquered the wrapping and settled down to sucking on his butterscotch, and F. settled down to a nap, I returned my attention to the tragic Madame Butterfly and the beautiful sounds of the opera. It was a great night.