Downtown St. Paul restaurants fill up on Saturday night; my first three or four choices couldn't reserve us a 6:00 table (and we verified they were all packed full when we drove by this evening), so we ended up going to Sakura. Which is always a good choice anyway. I tried the Dr. Nick roll, which should have been perfect--- masago, tuna, and sprouts. The taste was great but the texture was all wrong for me. The #55 roll (tempura shrimp, asparagus, tempura flakes, masago, and eel sauce) was excellent as usual.
The opera was moved forward in time to 1920 and set aboard the Orient Express (in the pasha's private cars, naturally.) This really didn't seem to add a whole lot. The stage shifted back and forth a few feet when the action shifted between the two cars visible on the set. The set was also very short, and thus the captions were set way above where everything else was happening. (Not that this would be much different for a more traditional set, but it was a little absurd. We were seated toward the front so it wasn't easy to watch both.) The staging meant that the chorus ended up singing through the windows of the train car, so they were a bit muted both times. Inter-aria dialogue was in English.
The singing was excellent and even the acting was not too bad--- the singers really hammed it up in the humorous scenes. (And the audience laughed! I was sort of worried the crowd might try to treat this as Serious Opera.) We had fun, but unfortunately it ran a bit late for Marissa.
We found it interesting that in 1781, the notion that "an Englishwoman was nobody's slave" had enough currency to make it into a comic opera libretto. Marissa also bemoaned the fact that the protagonist is disguised as an architect but there's no punchline from doing so. (We thought this was part of the 20th-century setting but it appears to be in the original.) We were also a bit surprised that the Pasha doesn't have any singing---- I thought maybe I was mistaken, but Wikipedia and other sources confirm it--- but was played by an tenor opera singer anyway.
Further gripes: the person in front of us with overpowering perfume, and the lack of skyway connection to the Ordway. Also, I learned that opera-goers scorn such obstacles as crosswalk signs. This seems like a pro-skyway argument to me, as the Opera can't afford to lose all that many patrons to accidents...