06 November 2008

Art/Life/Life/Art

I went to the opera the other day.  I suppose that liking opera is yet another bit that does not fit with my mostly liberal persona, but like it I do, quite a lot.  

Once upon a time, I had aspirations of a career on the operatic stage.  I studied with a retired soprano from The Met.  I remember thinking after my first lesson with her (at the ripe age of 12) that our little town in Oh-hia-ia was an awfully strange place for a former opera singer to reside.  After I'd studied with her for a while, I asked what had brought her here; love, she said.  I know that I probably rolled my eyes, but also joked that I was glad she was here so that I could study with her.

I don't sing in public any more, and haven't for a very long time.  Perhaps because I have not, I was surprised all over again at how much physicality operatic singing requires.  The male performers especially impressed me.  I was very moved by the performances, had to search for my tissues in the car on the way home.  

It was in a small hall, and was a dress rehearsal.  I can't go to the performance due to a schedule conflict, so I whined to the company director until he agreed that it would be OK for me to sit in on the dress rehearsal.  Like I said, this is a small place; not only do I know who he is, but I work with him in his other day job.  Two degrees of separation, remember that part?  No one wore microphones, and I sat more than 1/2 way back from the stage, far enough back that I couldn't tell if one of the tenors was a college friend of mine or not.  I could hear, though.  With no problem.  They're LOUD.

As I sat in the darkened hall, I thought about the old saying that 'art imitates life' (or is it 'life imitates art'?) and I wondered; when was the last time YOU sang an entire conversation?  Opera is a very odd art form in that respect.  I can see why it is an acquired taste.  My parents were not classical music fans, in fact the closest thing I think they ever had to classical music in their 8-track collection was this thing that I can't remember the name of right now, it was something like Bach on Rock, and it was symphonic music digitized in the only way possible in the 70s; by organ, I think.  I developed the taste for it myself, over time.

I never turn down the opportunity to attend the opera, despite the oddness of the art form.  In some ways, it is a true immitation of life; comedy and tragedy, drama and love.  


5 comments:

John said...

Why, oh why, don't you sing in public? Please tell me that you, at the very least, sing for DH sometimes. My Beloved has a beautiful voice and the only time I get to hear her is when our Minister of Music gets her to sing in church. I often bemoan and bewail this shameful waste of talent with little resultant singing. Any suggestions?

BTW - I am interested at the notion that opera does not fit your liberal persona. Why not? I've always associated such high-brow pursuits with a more liberal view of the world. Am I missing something here?

Lucy Arin said...

I don't sing in public any more because 1. I wasn't that good to begin with and 2. I am badly out of practice now. When I considered myself a singer, I practiced daily, even if it was just scales for 15 minutes. Like any other endeavor, it is a use-it-or-lose-it thing. I doubt I could have the breath support for an aria these days.

I sing along with the radio, my iPod and TV commercials all the time, so yes, DH has heard me sing, although not on a public stage like your beloved. I envy her the chance to...I don't have an outlet for that here.

Opera has always struck me as elitist, partly because the tickets are very very expensive, and partly because I've never met an opera fan that didn't look down on non-fans as being uncultured. Perhaps unfairly, I tend to think of the wealthy as conservative politically, so although art for art's sake is a liberal thing, opera productions are....not? Yes, that made much more sense in my head than it does on the page. >_<

John said...

I'm sure your local congregation of believers would welcome the addition of your voice. ;-)

As always, blessings to you!

John

MotherMe, The Radical Liberal Conservative said...

Oh, that John... always so subtle with his spiritual suggestions. ;) (just teasing, John!)

Luce, I also wondered why you - ahem - unfairly lumped opera in with being conservative. And then, why do you lump being conservative in with being wealthy?! Tsk, tsk tsk. You liberals, always being so judgmental. ;)

Remember: it's not usually the calculations that are wrong. It's the initial assumptions. Or, er, um, somesuchthing. Nevermind. Cheers!

Lucy Arin said...

John-
I'm guessing that a conversation with a church choir director might go something like this:

Me: I'd like to sing in the choir.

Church: Great, are you a member of our congregation?

Me: No.

Church: OK, then just join the church and we'd be glad to have you.

Me: Um...there's just one minor hitch; I'm an atheist.

Church: Right. Well. Belief in God is just a minor part of church membership. But don't worry. We're pretty sure the Unitarians might take you...