Opera? Let it rip!

Opera is simply one of my greatest passions. I can’t think of a better way to present a story. The wonderful presentation of music on stage and in the orchestra pit, the drama of the story sung out by marvellous voices, the amazing costumes and unbelievable sets, all combine to give audiences a most satisfying experience.
Very true, many of the plots are a bit thin, leading lady gets killed before the marriage or shortly afterwards, as one of the leading sopranos of our day has been heard to say; but who hasn’t read stories of a similar tackiness in our daily news papers or reported on TV?
True also, much of what is performed has its roots one hundred, two hundred years ago, but that is not a weak point, for the quality was there from the beginning and hasn’t degraded one note since.
Opera has often taken a heavy rap from the public for its lack of spontaneity and sluggishness; a condition of history, I think, when the older directors didn’t have the technical means to close the gap between the singing element and the acting out of the story, or the willingness of the singers to disport themselves on stage. But when one is listening to a singer like Pavarotti or Domingo in their younger years, or Caballé or Sutherland, it’s OK to let the action grind to a halt while those great stars sing an aria; opera audiences know how to hold the plot in their heads and pick it up again went everything moves on.
Gradually that stultification has left the opera stage; these days the performers are actor singers, they work out, are as fit as fiddles, can keep moving and sing the most complex music all at the same time. I have watched Netrebko hang over the front of the platform on her back and sing her heart out (try it sometime), and Terfel declaim with powerful voice his stubborn resistance at the end of Don Giovanni, while the whole set was collapsing under him and taking him down to Hell.
Opera is theatre par excellence; modern sets are transitory works of art, beautifully made and complex, controlled by computers and seasoned stage hands in a way never contemplated even twenty years ago, and sadly always dismantled the minute the performances end. Thank Heavens for DVDs to keep those heroic efforts current and fresh.
To be continued in our next…

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Comments

  1. I must admit I’ve never been to an Opera or even heard an Opera singer. So many people made it seem like the most boring thing in the world that I never tried it for myself. However, the way you have drawn the picture for me is much more exciting. I will have to give it a try and see for myself.

  2. Good for you! Try to find out if a cinema in your town, or close by, is streaming the Live from the Met Opera series. You can go on-line and see what’s coming up next. I think it is Anna Netrebko singing in Manon, which should be very good. I go on-line to read about the stories in the operas, the singers etc. it helps me get a good idea of what to expect. Enjoy yourself, Kristin

  3. Thank you for the ideas I will definetly check into that. 🙂

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