It’s funny how often the world of opera crops up around me.

I’d bought my youngest a large Kinder Egg Surprise that promised to have a female super hero inside. She was disappointed to find Harley Quinn as she was hoping for Super Girl.

I ended up explaining that the name is a play on Harlequin and then we discussed the Commedia dell’arte with Harlequin and Pierrot and why we decorate with Pierrot dolls in France. And also telling them how Harley gets her particular diamond-decorated jester outfit.

The kids know clowns mostly as figures from scary movies and circuses and I’m over here teaching them about family opera history and badly singing Pagliacci to them. Because in an opera house, the jester is also a symbol of pathos. So I guess Harley Quinn is fitting after all.

Pierrot le pauvre, forever a part of our history, the tale of star-crossed lovers.


They’ll hear another lecture when Bohemian Rhapsody comes on the radio. And to answer your question, yes, my children are already sick of me.

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