With the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions. Most of us will set different goals as this year begins, and whether they are realistically accessible or not is not the question. You might sign up at the gym, which in a few months will turn into a monthly donation to the gym. Or you might want to find a new job because you truly believe that Mondays shouldn't be dreaded this much. Or maybe you'd simply like to give flossing a fighting chance.
Drawing inspiration from the most popular resolutions for 2018, we wondered which goal would our favorite opera characters set for themselves. Do you share new goals with Salomé or with Schaunard?
1. MAKE NEW FRIENDS
Who needs fake people in their life? Canio, the main character in Pagliacci by Leoncavallo, should definitely get new friends. Hours before a performance, Canio finds out that his wife Nedda has an insistent admirer and a lover among their troupe. Jealous and suspicious, he is incapable of remaining in character during the performance - which is literally the same storyline as the current events in his life - and he Nedda and Silvio, her lover, to death. Sometimes, the saying ''The show must go on'' is just not fitting anymore. Cut the act, it's time to get those toxic people out of your life and make room for new ones. Hot tip: opt for not answering their texts instead of Canio's more drastic solution.
2. TAKE UP A NEW HOBBY
Logging off Facebook and Netflix is challenging (for me anyway), but how about spending those endless lost hours on a new hobby? Taking yoga classes, going outside to photograph urban life, I even hear knitting is making a comeback. Salomé, in the opera of the same name by Strauss, should find an activity to get her mind off John the Baptist, currently imprisoned by her step-father Herodes. She goes to great lengths to just kiss John.... well, to kiss his severed head. Had she taken up a new hobby to occupy her time, the story would have been veeeerrry different (and not dramatic enough for an opera, so we'll give her a pass?). All I'm saying is, perhaps try something new in 2018, and you might realize that what you desperately wanted before isn't all that anymore.
3. FIND A NEW JOB
In 2018, make it a goal to wake up happy every morning. Happy to go to work. Sounds impossible? Then perhaps you are like Leporello in Don Giovanni by Mozart, and it's time to look for a new job. Maybe you don't adhere to the work culture, maybe your coworkers are free-riders, or maybe, like Leporello, your boss is upright unpleasant. Don Giovanni makes his servant recite his - many - conquests, distract the men while he seduces their fiancées, and pose as him to serenade... his wife! Talk about breaking about every professional employer-employee rule! Hot tip: Find a work environment where you will be rewarded (properly!) for your work and where your boss isn't carried into fires of hell by a chorus of demons.
Finley as Giovanni and Ketelsen as Leporello, Metropolitan Opera, 2012
4. QUIT DRINKING (OR THE MODERATE APPROACH: DRINK LESS)
The holiday season can be gruesome on your waistline and especially your liver. The new year is then the perfect time to quit drinking, not only to detox and reboot your body, but ultimitely to avoid any awkward situations. Falke, in Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, learned his lesson the hard way. See, he was left by a friend in the centre of town, dressed as a bat and intoxicated. (Fledermaus is German for ''bat''.) To have his revenge, he plans an evening filled with flowing champagne and intrigue. Actually, this could be a resolution for pretty much every character in this opera. The evening is all fun and games until they all wake up in jail! Blaming it on the alcohol (as Jamie Foxx put it) worked this time around, but won't always!
5. SAVE MONEY
YOLO is out, 2018 will be all about planning ahead! That trip you wanted to go on? Those front row seats at a performance of your favourite opera? Or simply making ends meet? It's time to save up for the things your desperately need or want instead of giving into immediate pleasures. Opera character most suited for this resolution? Schaunard from Puccini's La Bohème, hands down! Soon after the opera begins, Schaunard walks into the crummy apartment he shares with his friends announcing that he has made money (playing violin to a rich man's dying parrot) and that they should all go out to celebrate his good fortune! A kind-hearted character without a doubt, but saving up money for a rainy day can't hurt.
Marco Vinco as Colline, Gabriele Viviani as Marcello, Alessio Arduini as Schaunard and Teodor Ilincai as Rodolfo in John Copley's Royal Opera production of La bohème, 2013.
6. FOCUS ON SELF-CARE
New year, new me. Sometimes, you feel as though you haven't done what you wanted, or you're not who you thought you'd become. The greatest project you'll ever work on is yourself, so why not take 2018 to focus on self-care, on being happy. It's what we wish for Eugene Onegin, in the opera of the same name by Tchaikovsky. This character is similar to Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, but the opera does not have the same happy ending. Onegin refuses the advances of Tatyana only to realize years later, once she's married, that he does love her. Oh, and he kills his friend in a duel. We wish Onegin happiness and good luck to find his true purpose in life.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Eugene Onegin, Metropolitan Opera, 2007
7. BE MORE INFORMED
Fake news everywhere lately, it's hard to know who and what we should believe. Trust seemed to be a rare commodity last year, especially in the media. Otello, of the opera by Verdi based on the play Shakespeare's play, learned the dangers of trusting only one source. Turns out Iago wasn't very loyal to the governor and poisoned his mind, while pretending to be his friend. Otello, convinced by Iago's schemes that his wife Desdomena has been unfaithful, kills her in the final act of the opera only to realize moments later the terrible mistake he has made. Lesson learned the hard way for Otello, commit to double-checking the facts in 2018.
Jonas Kaufmann and Marco Vratogna in Verdi's Otello at the Royal Opera House
8. LEARN A NEW SKILL
Kinda like taking up a new hobby, but with some purpose in mind. For us, it could be something like mastering PowerPoint to make badass presentations. In opera, it would be more like sword fighting - because they are ALL obviously already masters of disguise (check Cosi fan tutte if in doubt). Learning a new skill is not necessarily because you are not good at something, but rather because you want to be better. Just like Figaro, in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, because you never know when your master, the Count Almaviva, might try to snuggle with your new wife, and you'll have to find a new scheme to prevent it!
Yngve André Søberg (Figaro) and Ingeborg Gillebo (Cherubino), Oslo Operaen, 2016
9. SPEND MORE TIME WITH FAMILY
It shouldn't take getting lost in the woods and abducted by a children-eating witch to realize you love your family, despite their (sometimes obvious) flaws. Hansel and Gretel sure learned that there's no point in crying over spilt milk, and now so do their parents. Based on the Grimm brothers' fairy tale, Humperdinck's opera has one important lesson for your new year's resolution: cherish the times you have with your loved-ones over your passing troubles. Especially if there is a gingerbread house near.
Alice Coote, Philip Langridge and Christine Schäfer, Metropolitan Opera, 2007
10. HAVE NO NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS
And lastly, for those who are not committing to any new year's resolutions in 2018, you are like Carmen, in the opera by Bizet, whether because you know you never follow through with your good intentions come February or because you simply don't see the New Year as a beginning for something. Carmen only commits to who she is - an ''oiseau rebelle'' that cannot be tamed - and to the plot, for better or for worse. She knows who she is, and she wouldn't change it for anything in the world.
One word for the New Year to all of you reading: integrity. Become who you want, do what you want, achieve the impossible, but never lose sight of your true self in 2018.
Elina Garanca, Carmen, Metropolitan Opera, 2010
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