Sep 8, 2009


The Midge recently opened up the comments on her blog, asking for advice for the opera newcomer. How do you successfully introduce someone to opera?

A thoroughly interesting subject to ponder. Indeed, the comments were just as interesting...and entertaining:

"Going to the opera is a sacred ritual, it is not like taking out the garbage, or doing aerobics, or going to a therapy group. It has to do with the salvation of your soul."(gauthier310)

"The ready availability of opera on DVD makes it possible to screen bleeding chunks of a bunch of works to see what appeals. It might be Handel, it might be Verdi, it might be Berg." (LisaHirsch1)

"DVDs and books and learning about opera are fine tools...but they can make you think you've been to an opera when in fact you haven't...The whole thing is canned and you can fast forward to the end. At a live performance, you will have the magical experience of hearing a human voice directly, unmediated by electronic amplification...Going to an opera is like falling in love: you don't feel the earth move by reading about it."(gauthier310)

"Opera is not everyone's cup of tea, but I think that it is important that newcomers understand that it is a hugely varied art form that can be approached from several possible vantage points, including one's headphones."(newbie2 )

The Midge feels that going to a live opera performance makes a difference, and I have to agree. She backs up her opinion citing a paper by a sociologist that studied how people become opera fans. It established that people who love opera had an "aha" moment--a love at first sight (or, listen, as the case may be.)

I can definitely believe this, but I also believe people can become opera fans in many ways--just as people can fall in love immediately or slowly. Sometimes repetition and education can cultivate the appreciation and love of opera.

And, as commenters noted, there may not be one perfect "orientation" opera. The logical choices might be The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, or Carmen. But there are those who first fall for opera after seeing Das Rheingold or Peter Grimes.

I think the challenge, more so, is getting many people to be open-minded enough to try opera. And, by try, I mean if they have one negative experience, try another before writing off the genre.

Give opera a chance!

1 comment:

Katherine said...

What a fantastic post. I have no experience of opera, and have wondered how you get from being a total neophyte to an opera-lover.