Monday, July 24, 2006

Intro to Opera

As much as I’ve been around music all my life, I had never been to the opera before last week at Chautauqua, always preferring orchestral music, chamber music, solo piano, or choruses. If I wanted drama, I turned to Shakespeare or to modern theater.

For various reasons, two of our housemates bought us tickets to the opera on Friday night. David graciously accepted even though he really wanted to see Lonestar, the country western act that was included in our week’s pass. I was curious after our discussions earlier in the week with someone who works on sets for the opera.

The two one-act operas were Sister Angelica and Gianni Schicci. Although they were sung in English, you were at a great disadvantage if you didn’t know the story line. However, as I looked over at Deborah during the performance, she was bawling like a baby and she said it was simply the music that has this effect on her and not the story at all.

We talked to Steve, the set guy, after the performance and learned that the old man in the second opera instead of shattering his cane as he had in rehearsal, had thrown it into the orchestra pit. It turned out that it hit the cellist in the face. I guess there are perils to any performance. As far as I could tell, no one ever missed a beat and the whole episode went unnoticed by the audience.

Is opera in our future? Not for David, who managed to sleep through most of both acts. I would be interested in trying again, but this time learning a little more up front and hopefully having English surtitles.

Opera – a weird sort of combination of Shakespeare and the symphony and choral music. Seems like the perfect thing for me since I like each of those individually.

How do you feel about opera?


Blogger Kate said...

I was raised with it. Every Saturday my father would turn on the radio at noon to listen to opera from the Met. He had many libretti which I read studiously so that I would understand the stories. When I was a young adult the Met had a travelling company. We lived in Madison, WI which was one of their tour stops. I took him to 3 performances...Carmen (where Carmen stomped out her cigarette with her bare foot to the gasping amazement of the audience), Tosca with all its melodrama, and finally Don Giovanni (my Dad's personal favorite). As a child at first I tolerated the Saturday requirement to sit by the radio and listen to the opera and "Enjoy it!" But over the years I came to love the music as much as my Father did and with Deborah I have wept over it many times.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Kate speaks for me! I too loved Carmen. My sister Hannah and I can still sing the final dying love scene from La Boehme. La Traviata is marvellous! Danny and I used to go see the opera in San Francisco but I haven't been since I've been here (except once to the Met but that's in NYC). Let's go sometime this winter. You can dress to the nines to go, too, which is always fun for me.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I've remained at the fringes of opera. I used to work at the Kennedy Center, which definitely broadened my experience, but I focused more on the concert hall than opera house. Too many senses required for opera. I like to close my eyes and just listen.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Love it! Was brought up on it!

1:52 PM  

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