I CAN never quell a stir of fascination, dread and longing when the house lights dim and the curtains part.  But the enjoyment of an opera can begin, not with the rise of the curtains but with the first bars of the overture.

To understand and enjoy the opera is the recognition of certain irreconcilable difference between it and the spoken drama.

Some think that opera is a step child of the arts, a sort of mongrel offspring to ballet, music, drama and is not a pure art form. The one who probably has less passion for it asks, why the opera? What causes one to fall in love with that sad strumpet in the first place when he might have chosen a good painting, sculpture, poetry or instrumental music?  And if he wanted to suffer, what about films, which offer plenty of opportunities of exasperation?

Some say the opera is not a pure art form, since it rarely approaches the detached realism of drama. A play can be intellectual in the manner of Shaw (GBS) Ibsen or T.S. Elliot.

Opera remains emotional—jubilant chorus, wild wailings, dolorous themes, melodic preludes, symbolism of repudation and despair, balms and caresses, torments and delights.

No one in real life, for instance, would pause to express his feelings in the lengthily soliloquies which are sometimes are operatic performances since they are profound and to the point.  Operatic acting is different and only the most accomplished can make it convincing but over and above all these is the singing

Our very own Sol Malaki of LA Opera has a glorious verse which improvises certain limitation in movement and gestures. As declared by opera critics, opera survives because the librettists are known to create characters and the composer have to match it with his musical genius.

Recall the dashing Don Giovanni, the resourceful Figaro: The marriage of Figaro makes us laugh and clap because, among others it is so funny, too Noah’s Ark to believe, proving that, reality was, above all, sad, even in its humor and extravaganza”

Verdi’s La Traviata, the woman gone astray, is a classic product of her century and of a single country, France.  We’re told you wouldn’t find her in London or Madrid. But she’s also a universal, misunderstood woman of easy virtue.  The Magdalen Moll Flanders Doystorevsky’s Sonia, Tolstoy’s Malova, Satre’s Respectful Prostitute. In the temple of love that Violetta Valery our high successful cocotte of one special fallen woman, who has consumption within her frail chest, burning her up—allied to the passion that will inevitably devour her, a wasting disease beside which mere dissipation(wine and late hours)—is harmless child’s play; her theme “flitting from joy to joy let me live for pleasure only.” Verdi wrote this in 1853, the first performance was a complete failure, performed in modern costume which aroused the distaste of the audience, the leading tenor was hoarse, the soprano cast as Violetta was a fat prima donna, and when it was announced in the last act that the heroine was dying of consumption, the audience howled with laughter.

It was next presented about a year later, putting back the period for 1850 and 1700, costumed accordingly. It was an outstanding success and since then, La Traviata has been a favorite of opera lovers, myself included.

When opera is viewed within the scope of its own possibilities and lamentations, it becomes endlessly fascinating.  It offers comedy, tragedy pageantry and romance in a repertoire that is almost inexhaustible.

While no one likes the novels you read, the paintings you see, or lectures, traditional opinions about opera vary.  They can be described as barrel organ music or it is for twittering coloratura, which was in self deprecating humor, how my late mother, who was a coloratura soprano, saw herself.

Operas are never old, never time worn—in its power and splendor.


E-mail Mylah at moonlightingmdl@aol.com

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