06 November 2008
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.