Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Utah Opera: Madame Butterfly and Why You Should Care to Go to The Opera, My Dear.

"An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house."
~Maria Callas

Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah

As a kid, I can clearly remember my brother quoting, Laverne and Shirley, "Would you care to go to the opera my dear, and you'll say..." and then there was a lot of spitting. Probably I remember most the recording he made of himself quoting them. (Note to self: we've GOT to get those tapes digitized.) Here, watch the original for yourself.

Shirley was quoted (and still is) over and over again in my family, spitting and all.

Every once in awhile it's nice to play dress-up and go to the opera. I really do love the opera and it's simply fabulous to have a night out on the town and a reason to wear all your jewels. This year, I decided to treat myself to season tickets to Utah Opera. So in October, I took my mom to see Madame Butterfly for her birthday. So tragic and so beautiful.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes by now or maybe you've stopped reading, but pause one moment while I tell you the opera is mahvelous and addicting, and why I just can't get enough.

1. The drama. Oh, the drama! Every opera has it and frankly, it always makes my own life's drama pale in comparison. It's like a full season of Days of Our Lives rolled up into one night.

2. It's architecturally beautiful. The lighting, the costumes, the sets are all absolutely stunning (when done well, and Utah Opera always does opera well). The elaborate layers of color, dimension, and fabric give your senses something to write home about.

3. The music. Now, this is a debatable point, since some operas I simply like more than others. But, typically, Puccini (composer of Madame Butterfly) never disappoints.

4. People watching. Come on now, everyone donning their best for a night out on the town certainly means there will be some entertainment off-stage also. Also, the half who certainly don't don their best also provide interesting people watching. Watching those who think they have donned their best is always, well, eye-opening. There are often some handsome men who have clearly been coerced into coming by their girlfriends, wives, mothers, and grandmothers, but suit up or tux up for the event. And let's face it, a man in a tux is a nice sight.

5. It's glamorous. It just is.

6. The voices. I mean really. Half the time they aren't even miked and if have never experienced an operatic voice and the power it has, just try Renée Fleming's  soprano on for size, the only performance of our national anthem

Now, if you're just having a hard time getting into opera, but want to dabble in it, might I suggest one of the top ten most popular operas:

La bohème by Puccini
Carmen by Bizet
Madama Butterfly by Puccini
Tosca by Puccini
La traviata by Verdi
Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) by Mozart
Rigoletto by Verdi
Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by Mozart
Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) by Rossini
Aida by Verdi

They’re popular for a reason: they all mix music and drama and emotion in a particularly gripping way. All are typically considered good starting points for beginners and you can find great recordings of all these works to help ease you into your opera journey. I've also, conveniently, linked videos to scenes from each one. Enjoy!

And maybe I'll see you at the opera next time!


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