A Pleasant Outing at the Opéra-Comique
Samedi 12 Novembre 1904
I am utterly exhausted, so I will have to keep today’s entry short. I have just spent the most wonderful evening at the Opéra-Comique. I rarely make it out to this little house, and admittedly I often forget it even exists, for I rarely have reason to stray from the Garnier. And the audience is never any good. But Don Juan is a favorite I haven’t seen in ages, so of course I had to make the trip. Maurice Renaud was even singing, so I wouldn’t have missed it. And I just bought a stunning green taffeta gown (which I think would look quite well with the emerald brooch Jean gave me during our engagement) that I’ve been dying to wear. I wasn’t about to go by myself, so I brought along Lucille and Pierre. Caroline is still far too ill to leave her bed. I shall go to see her tomorrow. Anyways, shockingly enough, Lucille and Pierre have never even seen Don Juan! The young have a dire lack of appreciation for art.
The house was nicer than I remembered, not so very different from the Garnier, albeit much smaller. Our little box was quite comfortable, and the service was excellent; we had hardly finished one bottle of champagne when another arrived! And the ladies were dressed far better than I had remembered, even with the ridiculous hat ban. How is a woman supposed to look civilized without a hat? Perhaps they occasionally made it hard to see the stage, but is it not far worse to inflict upon people the sight of ladies without hats? I’m quite fortunate to be in a box, as you certainly won’t see me at the opera without a hat! But I digress. I probably looked a little silly with my glasses on before the show had even begun, but taking in the dresses is one of my favorite parts of the opera, and my eyesight is too far gone to see from my box unassisted. I quite like the look of these new straight-line corsets, they give a really lovely silhouette, although I don’t know if I’ll try them out myself. Perhaps I’ll buy one for Lucille.
As for the opera itself, I enjoyed it immensely. I wish Jean could have seen it; he so loved Mozart and this was such a fine production. M. Renaud was every bit the consummate Don Juan I remembered him to be, with his velvety baritone and charm in spades! He was well matched by Jeanne Marcy’s exceedingly fine Donna Anna. And the little American soprano, Betty something-or-other (?), was just adorable as the peasant girl Zerlina, as much as I prefer to hear French singers (I don’t think that’s too much to ask for in a French house!). Lucille and Pierre seemed to enjoy as well, just as I knew they would. And who did I happen to see in the very box next to ours during intermission but the Alexandres? And here I thought you couldn’t find any good people at the Comique! We had a nice little catch-up that continued into the final act, as much as I usually try to pay attention to the music. I’ve seen this opera several times so I didn’t feel too badly. But I turned my attention back to the stage for the final scene, as I have always found it to be so captivating. Heroes rising from the grave, scoundrels dragged to hell in a fiery blaze! If this is not the very spirit of opera, then I surely don’t know what is! I’m sure the stage effects have been more impressive every time I’ve seen them, and this time was certainly no exception. How they maneuver all of that machinery alongside actual flames I shall never know.
As much as I love this opera, I always forget how terribly long it is. Over 3 hours, and not even starting until half past 8. I like to say that I feel as well as I did when I was 25, but nights like these, I really feel my age! I can hardly keep my eyes open. What a wonderful evening! I shall surely return to the Comique soon.
- Marguerite Chevalier