How I wish I could sit down with my cultured friends and talk with confidence on any subject which crops up. I can do a certain amount on fine art and drama, and I can speak with more confidence on dance, though I must confess that without men in tights you would lose a fan.
But opera? Oh my goodness, why can’t I dig opera?
I’ve tried, and my bank account bears witness to that – I did a double take when I bought a ticket for the Sydney Opera and similarly for Verona, but, beyond the undoubted spectacle and some hummable tunes, I just don’t get it.
For me it’s all so incongruous.
Yes the occasional aria can be moving but when you have duets, quartets etc all responding to each other with different words, and sometimes singing to the audience with differing comments, then I’m inclined to respond with “could you all just shut up and speak in turn!”
Then there is the problem of language. It has to be in the original doesn’t it? Of course opera houses have tried to become user friendly by giving a blow by blow translation, though I was more amused in watching the audience looking up and down than I was by the opera itself – a sort of alternative to watching a tennis match from left to right.
Then we have the incongruity where the physique of the singers doesn’t always match the part. I happily joined in the laughter when Madame Butterfly said she was 15 – oh yes?
Or in La Boheme where the male leads didn’t look to me that they were either frozen or starving.
Of course comic opera might have been an easier way out. I tried Britten’s ‘Albert Herring’ but, in tune with Peter Cook’s comment about the Leonardo Cartoon, I didn’t find anything to laugh at.
So then, I expect I might try again, but if it’s Wagner then you will have to drag me kicking and screaming.
Keep cool, folks.