Now if you were going to choose a bucket list goal, then surely it would look something like that? Close your eyes and picture it. Holding hands with someone you love whilst listening to awe and beauty in the most romantic city in the world: the epitome of a bucket list goal.
But this series of scrawls is meant to delve deep into the mind of the bucket list. Challenge the very facet of its nature. It picks up operas in Venice, shakes them and waits to see what falls out of the bottom. Is watching an opera in Venice really as superlative as it sounds? I guess that depends. It depends on a great many things actually. One of which is a love of opera!
In 1990, the English national football team broke my young and cherubic heart. We had reached the semi-finals of the world cup and were set to face the might of the Germans. The game reached a penalty shoot-out before Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle blazed my brains all over the crossbar. The programme ended with me in tears, my friend’s mother telling me not to worry because they could always try again next year (it is a tournament held every four-years) and my first introduction to the operatic sound. As I bawled and bawled Luciano Pavarotti launched Nessum Dorma into my ears and I fell in love. It’s a song that still holds pride of place on my iTunes favourite list.
When I first created my bucket list I was searching for enjoyable activities to fill the void left by alcohol. It was more difficult than I could imagine. I went back to my youth to remember what used to pull the heartstrings, and fondly remembered my love of music. I had also started writing and experimenting in listening to music while I typed. I downloaded an opera at the bequest of an Italian friend and Nessum Dorma was on the track list. This is where my decision came to choose this goal as a bucket list item. It wasn’t a life long dream. It wasn’t a love of mine. It was just a choice. Looking back now, it was really just filler.
I am told that the most magnificent opera house in Venice is the Gran Teatro La Fenice. A pity then, that as I was working in Venice the venue was not hosting an opera. Now herein lies one of the issues of bucket list goals involving worldwide travel. It costs a lot of money to fly around the world – or even gondola it. So when your flight tickets and hotel costs are taken care of you really need to pounce. I was determined to achieve this goal and so I settled for the Teatro Malibran instead. When you are living the dream through bucket list experiences you should never settle for second best.
I bought two tickets as a surprise for my girlfriend. The day started dreadfully as I became embroiled in an argument with a young lady in the ticket office of the Piazzale Roma over a pair of mis-sold tickets. 30-minutes of angst later and we found ourselves running through the narrows streets of Venice desperate to arrive on time – not a great start.
When we arrived my first impression was disappointment. The Teatro was sandwiched in between bakeries and handbag shops – not very inspiring at all. The inside was no different either. It was very dark, grey and very unassuming. I felt like I had turned up to watch an afternoon matinee with a busload of geriatrics.
When the sound started my disappointment continued. It was heavily weighted to the male vocal and not one note touched my heart. I also failed to realise how annoying it would be to not understand what the hell was going on (the Teatro organisers choosing to show the subtitles in Italian for obvious reasons). I don’t think we stayed unto the end. The fact that I can’t remember if we did stay until the end says it all really.
So should this have been a bucket list goal?
Never in a million years. I had no love for opera and still don’t. I would like to see one again, but couldn’t care less if I never did. This attitude does not lead to the creation of an idea fit for a bucket list. When creating a bucket list goal never settle for second best. If you want to watch an opera in Venice then make sure you not only love opera, but a specific one – or a specific singer -and a specific Teatro. Make sure it means something. Make sure that there is residue in your memory for years to come. I just remember my girlfriend making the most exquisite bean-pasta. Not really the same vibe is it?