Some people love it, others hate it – opera seems to be an elitist affair and it seems like most of us don’t really understand it. Perhaps nothing describes better this fact than a famous scene from Pretty Woman (1990), when Vivian (Julia Roberts) and Edward (Richard Gere) go to the opera together. It’s Vivian’s first time at the opera and Edward tells her: “People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” Later we see Vivian in tears, just to find out her opinion soon after the opera is over: “(Old Lady at Opera): Did you like the opera, dear? (Vivian): It was so good, I almost peed my pants! (Edward Lewis): She said she liked it better than Pirates of Penzance.”
One of the reasons why people don’t like opera in the first place is the strange way of singing, which is off-putting for audiences who are not familiar with classical music. Yet, there are many other reasons why opera is worth giving a try, even if this type of production is not among your favorites yet:
The mastery of opera artists is amazing
The opera is considered a peak of human creation and artistic ability, and those employed by famous operas are among the best in the world. Even if you don’t appreciate this type of art yet, go there with the thought that you will be seeing a top-quality performance. The demands on opera practitioners are huge – these artists need to be proficient in music, singing, acting, staging, and design, and only the most talented are cast.
It talks about the human condition
Look at the plot of any opera and you will see people fighting with things bigger than them – isn’t this exactly what happens to all of us at some point in life? If you get to the story in an opera production, you will probably find yourself in it. However, you should choose a good opera if you want to have that impression of timelessness and feel the action is relevant to you. Unfortunately, some titles can by insipid and sexist, just like any other type of production, and seeing such an opera can prevent you from appreciating the genre. Ask for a connoisseur’s advice or at least check online reviews before buying the tickets.
You have a reason to dress up
This should not be the most important reason for attending the opera, but feeling different for one night and looking your best is not such a frivolity as you’d be tempted to consider it in the first place. Everybody needs a break from everyday life and occasions like this, when you can wear a red velvet dress or a tuxedo without going to a wedding or something similar, will be the ones you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
You shouldn’t say you don’t like something before even trying
9 out of 10 people who say they don’t like opera have never actually seen one. But those who love it claim that opera presents emotions we are struggling with our entire lives and there we can witness emotional ups and downs we are all dealing with. If you like the drama in Netflix shows, you may like opera too – it’s also with people who are falling in love, getting married, lying, crying, or dying. But, unlike other art forms, opera provides more time to performers to express these emotions – funnily enough, this is what makes some people say “Opera? Isn’t that kind of play where a guy says ‘I’m dying, I’m dying, I die.’ and it takes him 10 minutes to do it?” Actually, in real life, such powerful events last even more and are very intense – it’s just us who have gotten used to seeing such dramatic moments depicted in a fast and easy to digest manner. In other words, this form of art allows people to see and feel the world in a different manner and get in touch with the things that really matter – give it a try and you’ll understand what we mean.
Experiencing a live performance is truly special
Are you accustomed just to watching films and listening to recorded music? You should definitely try witnessing a live performance – a good production will make you feel like you have entered a new realm. Think how exciting concerts are – the opera offers more than just music, it also involves acting and is a visual delight, so your satisfaction should be exponentially higher.
It can be relevant to you if you have an interest in foreign languages
Listening to the foreign language you’re studying being sung in verse can be an instructive and entertaining experience, different from your usual online lessons or reading that old textbook.
Listening to unamplified human voices
Opera singers need to sing in a manner that seems effortless, while traversing the scene in elaborate costumes and transmitting the emotions of their characters. All this, without using a microphone – definitely a thing you should see at least once in your life.
Anyone can enjoy the opera
Remember that reference to Pretty Woman at the beginning of this article? Think about the character’s language, profession, dressing style, and personal history and you will understand that you don’t necessarily have to be an intellectual to like the opera. Anyone can find something to enjoy in opera, regardless of their education level and background.
True enough, a night spent at the opera may not be the cheapest entertainment alternative, as Moliere himself put it: “Of all the noises known to men, opera is the most expensive.” However, the best things are not always for free, but you can find fast tickets or offers. If you turn out to be an opera lover, the amount of money you’ll be paying on a ticket will be your last impediment.