>> Sunday, October 24, 2010
How many times have I heard someone say to me, “Oh you’re an opera singer? No offense, but I can’t stand opera.” My standard reply is always, “Oh really? Well have you ever been to an opera?” Invariably the reply will be “no” they haven’t ever actually seen one, but they just know from some of the clips and parodies that they’ve seen on television that they wouldn’t like it. Yes, the good old Loonie Toons Bugs Bunny-does-opera cartoon parodies, although hilariously pointed and funny (and some of my very favorites), didn’t do opera’s reputation any favors with the general public, and in the era where America’s Got Talent winners get all the breaks and pop music celebrities rule, respect and popularity for classical music and musicians is down to zilch. That was all too apparent when only a few weeks ago we lost one of opera and classical music’s greatest, the Australian soprano, Dame Joan Sutherland. When I posted news of the 94-year-old Sutherland’s death at her home in Switzerland on my Facebook profile, the response was limited to a few of my friends with whom I had gone to college or graduate school in music. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, Sutherland was practically a household name in the United States, and one of the Metropolitan Opera’s brightest stars, but very few today even know her name, much less who she was or that she was one of the finest Verdi sopranos opera has ever known.
Before you go, educate yourself about the opera. Learn about the plot, the characters, the composer, and the history behind the opera. The best and easiest place to do this is to look it up in Wikipedia. They have a page for the most popular to the most obscure operas that include history, characters, plots, and even a list of the most popular arias and pieces contained within each. After doing just a little homework, when you get there you won’t have to concentrate so hard on keeping up with the plot and the characters, and you can just sit back and enjoy the show.
So if you think you hate opera, but you’ve never actually seen an opera, I challenge you to go see one. If you’ll keep to the suggestions above, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and it won’t be too long before we’ll have you hooked!
Update: 11/19/10 This is now a featured article on Betterfly!