Tuesday, April 12, 2011

opera drama

I would not consider myself to be a huge opera fan, or even all that knowledgeable about opera though, apparently, I am much more familiar than two of my companions with whom I spend several Saturday afternoons at the cinema for the Live at the Met series. Like most people, I am well versed with the story and music of Madame Butterfly and could sing my way through much of Carmen and enjoyed Nessum Dorma until it was grossly overplayed. I used to listen to Saturday Afternoon at the Opera as background music when it was a staple on CBC, but I didn't really appreciate a lot of it, or even understand what was happening, as I waded in and out of attention while doing other things (laundry, reading, napping). Seeing it on the movie screen has brought a whole new dimension to my appreciation of this art form. I now LOVE opera.

At first, I only went to see the ones that I thought were most familiar, or were by Verdi or Rossini (my faves). Then, I (well, we actually, as in three of us regulars) started choosing operas that featured our favourite singers. Eventually we became more daring and choose the whole season (except for Wagner's The Ring Cycle - that might be a bit too much for me) and sat through productions we knew absolutely nothing about. We started to excitedly await the new season to see what was on offer and with the option of repeats there was no reason to miss any one. I remember the first year when it was just like going to see any movie, you bought your tickets then took whatever seats were available. You had to get there a good 30-40 minutes early if you didn't want to end up in the front row dealing with the distorted, oversized, HD faces looming at you. Now you book your seats when you buy your tickets just as at the theatre. For the last, most recent opera, we went to one of the new theatres, paid a little extra and had those special seats and enjoyed wine while watching my newest favourite tenor, Juan Diego Florez in Le Comte Ory.

Opera has everything you could want in a production. Yes, it can be long. And yes, it is almost always in another language. And yes, there is a lot of repetition. But there is singing, acting and dance involved. There is the drama, movement, fashion, intrigue, romance, murder and mayhem, and sometimes animals. And in the case of Juan Diego, a baby born to his wife half an hour before his performance! Talk about excitement!


  1. I have a friend who see a lot of opera on the movie screen too, and she also loves it. Her usual companions are her parents, who have actually been to live performances at the Met in New York City. They claim that the movie versions of opera are a WAAAAY better experience, that you can get much more out of it and that you still feel like you are there.

  2. I'm afraid I'm not an opera fan. Except for the choruses I get awfully bored with them. I don't like musicals either. It all takes too long and is too dramatic or frivolous, in the case of musicals. I do like a good play, but will leave at intermission if I don't like it.

  3. What a wonderful time you are having. I shall have to get up and do likewise.I love Juan Diego Florez, what a great Rossini tenor he is.

  4. Pinklea: I agree! You have the bird's eye view and the closeups, the love fest interviews with Renee Fleming, the backstage stuff. I quite enjoy watching the set changes during the intermission. And sometimes, I have to hold myself back from applauding - though I wonder why no-one in the cinema does, I think we did during the first one way back in the beginning.

    Nora: Strangely, I agree with you on musicals. I get bored with opera listening to it on the radio, but somehow seeing the performance can keep my attention.

    Persiflage: Oh my, he is adorable. And when paired with Natalie Dessay, I am completely enthralled.

  5. I too enjoy going to the Opera!! As you say, "seeing it in person" makes all the difference. Love it!!

  6. SueAnn: and let's face it, opera has improved over the years, too. The singers are more enjoyable to watch and the majority of them are acting instead of just singing.

  7. Good, there aren't enough fans of opera.
    To me it is simply the greatest performing arts form, it has everything, great music, orchestral playing and wonderful singing, theatre and drama,
    scenery and costumes, colour, noise, emotion, everything more than life-sized. There's nothing mean or half-hearted about opera.

    And lots of them have great tunes for singing along. Not at the time of course, but afterwards.

  8. I haven't been to the opera in forever. I should check if we have that option here in Montreal.

    - Jazz

  9. Friko: judging by the attendance at the cinema - and the two repeat showings for each one - I'd say the fan base is growing.

    Jazz: check out cineplex.com or metopera. it should be available.

  10. I'm a big Gilbert and Sullivan fan..:-))


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