S&M at the Opera (yes, really): Teatro Colón

The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires is hailed as one of the best opera houses in the world.

It's a jewelry box of a venue, with opulent carved walls and sparkling chandeliers. I'm glad I donned red lipstick, because the aesthetics of Teatro Colón made me feel very old world glamour.

Even in my bomber jacket. Hey - it's currently the nicest article of clothing I own.

We arrived an hour in advance of our show. Part of me wished we had cabbed over sooner, because I wanted to perch on one of the gorgeous velvet settees and drink it all in.

I couldn't stop taking pictures. 

I mean, look at this place.

Help me with Lightroom for this picture, friends, I need haaaaalp, plz Martin?

Help me with Lightroom for this picture, friends, I need haaaaalp, plz Martin?

It was so beautiful and I wanted to capture all of it. I found myself frazzled by our hurried schedule and room after room of awe-inspiring sights.

We have 15 minutes until the show?!? Wait now we're going over here? Is Katherine in the next room? THIS IS TOO MUCH TO PROCESS!

Dramatic, yeah yeah, whatever. 

A benefit of traveling with a herd: you can spring for an entire box at the opera instead of sitting in the normal seats like plebeians. Sitting in one of the little nooks of the jewelry box felt appropriately fancy.

And Katherine picked an excellent spot:

Box seats at one of the best opera houses in the world! Dressing fancy for the first time in months! We were feeling decidedly glam.

Here's the thing with the opera. One goes into the experience with a very specific idea of what will happen. I anticipated tragedy, deaths, lovers' laments. I expected to understand very little and only kind of follow the plot. I expected taffeta and poise and overall poshness.

But Argentina, you're full of surprises, aren't you?

We saw Beatrix Cenci, a relatively modern show based on much older stories. It's dark. We knew there would be assassination, incest, rape.

I didn't expect subtitles to appear above the stage, in Spanish and in English, so that would could follow every nuance.

I really didn't expect naked men in leather masks, party scenes with S&M, elaborate and symbolic doppelgängers, blood splashed on the walls and just so much male nudity.

It's the kind of direction that could have been a train wreck. It could have felt gratuitous or too bizarre or nonsensical if everything hadn't been perfect.

But everything WAS perfect.

The doppelgängers and the symbolism made sense. I understood that the naked man in the white cage, mouth bound, was Beatrix, pure and tortured and trapped. I knew that the austere figure with the giant feather was the double to the evil count.

I saw the guard dogs morph from real dogs to naked men in leather masks, monstrous creatures, and knew they was representative of the count's moral degradation.

The voices were so beautiful, the costumes brilliant, the set absolutely perfect.

The disparity between the classical glamour of the venue and the modern absurdity of the show's direction was nothing short of art. It's the sort of show that challenges the viewer, that reshapes our understanding of an artistic medium and gives a new perspective.

Like Fuerza Bruta did, but in a whole new way. I knew that Fuerza Bruta was something new. Teatro Colón's interpretation of Beatrix Cenci was an unexpected new in a classical context. Pure brilliance.

Katherine picked the show at random, because it's the evening that worked for us. We saw the last showing of Beatrix Cenci at Teatro Colón.

I'm really grateful for that bit of random.

Our group, in the box. Before all of the penises happened.

Our group, in the box. Before all of the penises happened.


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email, or else read more from the blog.