I love all kinds of music but opera is my first love. I don’t always confess this to everyone I meet as I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, in fact since no one really likes opera it has become my own dirty little pleasure. But what? I hear you say, in the country of Opera? Yes, I’m afraid so not many people go to the opera, it has become more of a status symbol. I am not pretentious or austentatious to proclaim my love and I don’t have any Italian musician friends to accompany me to opera performances, so I’m contenting myself with the recordings on my ipod and the occasional live performance on the RAI (Italian t.v) arts channel.
Italian opera, captures my imagination more than anything else.
I think I’ve bored all of my friends to death with the story of how my spontaneous love of opera began but here it is again for the last time I promise.
I was twelve, during the Christmas summer holidays in Perth, Western Australia. Every Sunday afternoon on the ABC, there were special stereo broadcasts of musicals, classical music and opera.
Flicking the channels on one lazy school holiday afternoon I stumbled on an opera broadcast. I had never seen or heard anything like it. It was a young Pavarotti and Mirella Freni singing a duet from Puccini’s La Boheme. I didn’t understand what they were doing and being unaccustomed to subtitles, they seemed to whiz past too quickly for me to read them, but this didn’t really matter.
I had caught the precise instant when the lovers Rodolfo and Mimi fall in love, where the duet reaches its emotive climax, the point where the tenor’s and the soprano’s voices are at their most sublime. I was struck by the poetry, by the sweeping music and the two voices which seemed to become one. It was awe inspiring and strange. I was immediately captured by its exotic quality. Since that moment, I have avidly followed the world of Opera. It also made me want to understand Italian, the first language of such a beautiful and esoteric art form.
What’s your secret love?