AN ACQUIRED TASTE: OPERA

Listening to opera is an acquired taste; it takes many years of listening and growing into it in order to truly enjoy it. The good news is, as time passes, you can enjoy it at many levels.  I remember how much I loved “La donna mobile” when I first heard it. Now I often fast forward it while I am listening to Rigoletto.
Learning how to enjoy classical music started with my first exposure to it by my junior high school music teacher, Mr. Berry.
It was twenty years later when I noticed Opera and now I think it as the ultimate zenith of music. 
I first heard of Pavarotti in 1987 by a tape cassette I purchased while I was working in Saudi Arabia. Ever since, my enjoyment gradually progressed from Mozart to Rossini to Verdi to finally to Wagner. Now that I am enjoying Wagner, I look back the times when I could not stand him was only five years ago.
Opera is the most complex art form combining sophisticated orchestral music with human voice, theatrical arts including acting, stage decors and costumes. 
It is performed through a dramatic work called libretto, which combines music and text. It incorporates theatre and even dances in the performances. 
There are some tastes that come naturally to us, while some habits have to be attained with time, in order to really enjoy them. Opera falls more in the second genre. It uses words and music to evoke the emotions within us. Moreover, sometimes it can be overwhelming for even an aficionado, not to talk about the novices. However, cultivating the taste for this art form can not only make you fall for it, but also give a knowledge of one of the most famous and brilliant art forms in the world today. With the tips given below, know how to listen to the opera.
 
Listening To Opera 
  • Instead of directly heading towards an Opera House and acquiring a ticket for a performance, listen to it for sometime, say on TV, before you actually watch a show onstage. It will help you get acquainted with the show and make sure that the experience is not overwhelming.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the terms related to opera will help you understand it better. The logic here is – if you know the rules of a game, you understand and enjoy it better. An opera is made up of arias, which follow a pattern beginning with a tune, followed by another tune and then a reprise of the first tune.
  • Another thing you need to know, before you actually visit an opera house, is the story that will be performed. It will help you relate with the emotions. You can read the synopsis of the opera. The best thing will be to read the libretto. You will find them with the CDs or even online.
  • You can also read about the composer or the opera singer and their influence. Also, gather information about the historic period in which the opera is set. The knowledge about the origin will also help you relate with the performance better.
  • While you are reading the synopsis and libretto, pay attention to both the original and the translation. It will help you associate with the words. You will also be able to imagine the scenes and situation better.
  • In addition, before you plan to visit an opera house, you can start by listening to operas on CDs, which are easy to understand and help you familiarize with the opera as well. For the basic elements of the drama, listen to Rigoletto or La Traviata. If you are interested in lyric drama with music and without interruption, you can listen to Tosca or La Boheme. If you want to hear classical Opera, the best start for you will be Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

 

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