As I have posted about before, I am currently in my wife’s production of La Boheme. I am playing Alcindoro, the old man that brings Musetta to dinner in Act II. It is a great role, very funny, and has been a joy. I did the role grudgingly, but now I’m very thankful to have the opportunity.
The whole experience has made me think of a number of things about opera and music in general. Here are some of them, in no particular oder:
- You can’t really know a piece of music until you’ve performed it. I’ve always known this at some level, but being in this production has really reinforced this for me. You just gain a different perspective on the music by internalizing it that much, analyzing every line, every chord and entrance. I’ve really come to appreciate the artistry of my fellow singers, and of anyone who performs music of this caliber. Puccini is just amazing.
- You can tell music is good if you can listen to it hundreds of times and not hate it. I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to music, everything from classical of all sorts, alternative, jazz, heavy metal, folk, and more. But it is only the absolute best of music that I can listen to over and over again and still love. One can only listen to “I Wanna Talk About Me” a few times before you’re sick of it. I like it, but it has it’s limits. But great music just gets better the more you experience it.
- High school students, and young people in general, are capable of far more than we ever given them credit for. I really wish that all my readers could come to this performance. The artistry and professionalism of these young people is nothing short of astonishing. My wife really seems to have a knack for bringing the best out of people, and she has done that in this performance. Anyone who loves great music and drama would love this program.
- If you sing mediocre music, you get mediocre singers. While I do enjoy the genre of the musical, a part of the problem with it as a genre is that it really instills bad habits in singers. It forces singers to push their voices and generally use bad technique. Good technique is universal, and good music will teach it. Why don’t more of our high schools use great music, instead of poorly written music that is here today and gone tomorrow. Will anyone be singing Rent in twenty-five years?
- Opera taps into some of the deep emotions of humanity. We had the chorus master for Florentine Opera come and do a masterclass, and one of his comments was that Act II of La Boheme is a portrait or snapshot of the human experience. Does Musetta stay with the man who is safe and will give her stuff (Alcindoro) or does she go to the one whom she loves (Marcello)? Life is full of risks, and Musetta (who is admittedly a siren), chooses love over safety. Could there be a more universal expression of love?
Anyway, those are my thoughts for the morning. I’m sure there will be more after the performances.