Daily Archives: September 21, 2011

The Horror of Discovering You Love Opera

A performance of Don Giovanni with the great Italian baritone Antonio Scotti (as Don Giovanni). Scotti sang the role of Don Giovanni at Covent Garden, London, in 1899 and again at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in December of the same year.

It never dawned on me I was proud I didn’t like opera.  I’d never heard any opera except brief snatches or in spoofs.  I’d never given any conscious thought at all to the fact I thought people who went to operas did it to show off to other people who went to operas, or were snooty and just wanted to impress someone, or were sissies.  Never gave it a single thought.

To my mind a person who went to operas was just naturally, naturally, naturally someone I had no respect for, had no time for, would never take seriously.  I didn’t need to think about it.  I knew.  I don’t recall anyone ever trying to change my thinking about it, either.  I imagine they all knew same as I did those opera goers were phonies and sissies.

So, sometime in the late-1980s when my ex-wife got a couple of opera tickets for a performance on the University of Texas campus I wasn’t overjoyed.  I suited up and traveled down there under duress, grumbled behind her to our seats, scowled when the lights went down and battened down the hatches for hard weather.

Over the next couple of hours a pair of blinders was removed from my eyes, plugs removed from my ears.  A war went on inside me as the realization dawned that I loved this stuff.  The next time an opera came to Austin it was me insisting we get tickets.

That would be bad enough if it had stopped there.  But when my marriage broke up in 1992, and I relocated to Santa Fe, mildly affluent, I discovered a Santa Fe Opera exists.  I attended a performance, and thereafter every year bought season tickets and used them as long as I could afford them.

I’ve attended a lot of concerts and live performances in my life and enjoyed many with Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Kinky Friedman, Leonard Cohen, Loudon Wainwright and others, including a few Broadway performances.  But I’d be lying if I claimed every opera I ever attended wasn’t as thrilling and uplifting as I walked out as any of those.

And naturally, I hate myself for it and hang my head in shame admitting it.

Florida Grand Opera-DON GIOVANNI, The Don’s final scene