“So…” my friend asked, “..how did they like the opera?”
I understand the hint of skepticism – really I do! And given a choice, they would undoubtedly go for watching a basketball game or playing Minecraft before they’d choose The Barber of Seville, but given the fact that they didn’t have a choice…yes, they enjoyed it. One (the more musical one) more than the other (using the Fidget Gauge), but no, it wasn’t torture for anyone!
It was a quick trip over to Atlanta. I had wanted to hit two places in the afternoon: the MLKJr site and then Fernbank. They had never been to the former (I had), and we had been to the latter – a science museum – a few months ago. I wanted to return because of an apparently good exhibit on whales, and since we’d used our science museum membership to get in free in the past, it seemed to make sense…
It’s a little over two hours from here to Atlanta. As we drove by Talladega late Friday morning, I saw the flag flying and the RV’s gathered, and I thought, “Uh-oh…..” I’d forgotten it was race weekend, so I made special note to time our return so as not to run into post-race traffic on Saturday.
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is very well done – a peaceful place. The new buildings which host the exhibits are right across from the Ebenezer Baptist Church and down the street from the birthplace. We didn’t have tickets to the birthplace, so could only see it from the outside, but that was fine. We toured the exhibits in the visitor’s center and the church, saw the Kings’ graves and the experience, as is always the case with these Civil Rights Movement spots, makes me both hopeful and sad. Hopeful for what it all shows about what human beings can accomplish, but weary to consider unintended consequences, blind spots, entrenched ideologies and unfulfilled dreams.
Then to fight the already building Friday afternoon traffic to Fernbank. It was 4, the place closes at 5, but since we wouldn’t have to pay, I thought it was still worth it to go – seeing the whales wouldn’t take more than an hour.
But! Rude awakening – the membership card pushed back at me: “We’re not longer part of ASTC…” Grrr…should have called to make sure. Lesson learned. Nope, this wouldn’t be worth it, so we headed up to the hotel instead.
The drive up 75 wasn’t pretty at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon but it did keep moving. I got a good rate at the Embassy Suites right next to the Cobb Energy Center, also chosen for the indoor pool. After some pool time, we walked to dinner at Cinco’s, which was decent mid-level chain Mexican. Then to the opera!
As I mentioned, I didn’t choose this for their first opera randomly. It’s a great, lively score and an easy-to follow story with plenty of opportunities for hijinks. Preparation involved:
- Reading through this, from the Manitoba Opera (there are many teacher guides online for this opera, but I thought this was the best)
- Watching this
- And this.
So, yeah, they were ready. Our seats were pretty high up, and I forgot to bring binoculars, but we coped. The fact that operas now seem to universally utilize surtitles makes the whole experience so much more accessible. As this review indicates, the staging had a couple of unique elements – the first, during the overture, was an interesting interpretation that added to the production, but the second – in which the company passes down props to each other while singing Fredde ed immobile – didn’t. I suppose the intention was to express the confusion of the moment, but it came across more as just random. Irene Roberts as Rosina was the strongest voice of the company. I don’t know if all mezzo sopranos would be able to project so much more strongly than every other male voice, but she did, and it was almost startling when she began singing- in a refreshing way. The males were good, of course, but they did seem to fight against the orchestra quite a bit, usually losing. She didn’t.
(I didn’t have the only children there, either…there were several others that I spied…)
We got a late start the next day – I had been thinking about attempting some sort of boating thing (raft or canoe) down the Chatahoochee, but it was a little coolish out, so I decided we’d attempt that on a summertime trip. We began home, and after an Ikea stop, we ended up at a place I’d seen signs for a zillion times on our travels back and forth on I-20 -the Gold Museum in Villa Rica, Georgia!
It turned out to be one of those fun little detours that is definitely worth the ninety minutes and twelve bucks you spend on it. If you’re traveling on I-20 and decide to stop, know that you actually don’t have to spend a dime to see much of the site, since the ruins of the mining operation are part of a public park. But I went ahead and forked out the admission to the museum, which features a 20-minute film and two largish rooms of artifacts and memorabilia. We’d been to Dahlonega, so this was a good chance to round out that understanding of the Georgia Gold Rush, which predates the California rush by twenty years. In fact, the claim is made that the core of the 49ers were people who’d been a part of the earlier, Georgia efforts.
I like these random moments of learning – just constantly reinforcing – hopefully in relaxing and even fun ways – how interesting the world is, how complex it is, and that there’s always something more to learn.
And back home by 4, ready for adventures in their own back yard: