Good Opera vs.......

I have recently come to the realization that I have been extremely spoiled. Let me explain.

When I auditioned for the Opera Company of North Carolina my junior year, I wasn't even expecting to get in. Not only was I cast in the chorus of their show, but I was cast in the chorus of one of the greatest Opera's of all time: Giacomo Puccini's Turandot. The last of Puccini's operas, which he actually died before finishing, not only is the music beautiful and memorable, but the story is exciting. Who doesn't love a tale of executions and unrequited love?

As a chorus member in an opera, I could have easily been in the opening, the finale, and maybe make a short guest appearance somewhere hidden in the middle of the second act. Not the case with Turandot. We were on stage for nearly 2/3 of the opera. Now, this stage time meant a large amount of music to learn, but I enjoyed ever minute of it (and sadly, I still remember it all). The entire opera was amazing and the finale even brought tears to my eyes at each performance. I thought all operas would be this amazing. However, recently, I have discovered this is not the case.

Over the last month I have seen and heard music from several different operas. These have been in different languages, from different time periods, and by different composers. I recently saw Eugene Onegin by the Cleveland Opera Company. It was performed beautifully and the staging was very impressive with full out ballroom dancing in some scenes. The story was a moving tale of unrequited love. However, it didn't have the same effect on me that Turandot did. Maybe because it was in Russian so I relied heavily on the translation above the proscenium or because there was no striking musical theme throughout, I don't know. But it wasn't the same.

I've listened to many recordings since them and realized that I just favor certain composers. Anything by Mozart, Puccini, even Verdi or Strauss I can't get enough of. But once you move into the more obscure operas, that magical effect diminishes. Sure, I appriciate the masterpieces that they are, but they don't send chills down my spine.

But who knows, maybe with time and more exposure, the less traditional operas will have the same effect on me. Until then, I will stick to the greats. Turandot is being performed in early April here in Cleveland and I will be there, wrapped in every word. And you can be sure, when Calaf comes down from that high B in "Nessun Dorma", tears will be rolling down my face. What can I say. I'm a sucker for great music. Until next time, thanks for reading.


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