the more you know the less you need

the more you know the less you need

The New Face Of Opera

The New Face Of Opera

Opera has an image problem. Even lovers of music avoid it. Why? Because it is nothing short of  intimidating—the outlandish sets and elaborate costumes, the intricate plots that defy both rhyme and reason, and the hours and hours of upper-octave singing in a foreign language. Sure you finally get to dress up in your evening wear, and likely also get a nice dinner pre-performance, but Opera? Surely you jest?

Here are some tips, courtesy the CBC, to get over your opera-aversion:

  • Learn to suspend your disbelief: Opera is not reality-TV. Of course it’s impossible, but just go with it.
  • Sing: Start in the shower. You will soon appreciate the human voice in song—yours and others.
  • Learn some terminology: Get to know the lingo—Aria, Libretto, Recitative. 
  • Read some stories: The equivalent of reading the book before you see the movie.
  • Start small: Listen to the hits of opera—one at a time.
  • Start easy: Some operas are more user-friendly than others. Like learning to walk before you run.
  • Keep it light at first: On the tragedy, that is.
  • Move on to Mozart: If Mozart’s music can’t convince you; nothing will.
  • Give Wagner a try: Take your smelling salts, this is full-throttle opera.
  • Start exploring: It’s a big, wide, wonderful opera world. Enjoy!

I have a few favourite opera singers:

Maria Callas

Maria Callas | Cecil Beaton | 1957
Maria Callas | Cecil Beaton | 1957

American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. She combined an impressive bel canto technique, a wide-ranging voice and great dramatic gifts.

Renee Fleming

Renee Fleming | Photo: Andrew Eccles/Decca |
Renee Fleming | Photo: Andrew Eccles/Decca |

Utterly astounding American opera singer and soprano, she is one of the most acclaimed singers of opera of our time. Known as The People’s Diva, Fleming is credited with bringing a new audience to opera and classical music. Her last album, Verismo garnered Fleming her third Grammy®.

Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti
Luciano Pavarotti

What can you say, except World’s Greatest Tenor.

Perhaps one day we will be listening to Maria Valdes, the model in the post photo, who is a young opera singer completing her Adler fellowship with the San Francisco Opera.

San Francisco Opera Singer Headshots | Anna Wu Photography
MARIA VALDES | Photo: Anna Wu |

In the meantime, go pour yourself a glass of wine, and listen to some Opera.

Some of the best to start with: Verdi’s La donna è mobile from Rigoletto. The Queen of the Night’s arias from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Puccini’s Un bel di vedremo from Madama Butterfly. Leporello’scatalogue aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Casta Diva from Norma by Bellini. The flower duet from Delibes’s Lakmé.

CBC: Learn To Love Opera In 10 Easy Steps (here); Can Opera Singers Really Shatter Glass? (here)

Renee Fleming (website) (music) (book); Luciano Pavarotti (website) (music); Maria Callas(music)

Post Photo: Anna Wu; Article on Maria (here); Anna Wu Photography (website); Model: Maria Valdes (website)

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