My first tribute must be to Professor William Kimmel. He taught a course in Classical Music History. Part of that course was a mandatory requirement that every student attend a live opera performance. Mozart. I was furious. I hated opera even though I had never been to an opera. In a first-rate snit I went down to the old City Center, bought a $1 ticket in the last row in the last balcony for "Cosi fan tutte". The night of the performance I had my opera score and a tiny flashlight. I had to be there, but I had no intention of looking at the stage. The first act came and went. Not bad. Beautiful music, fascinating use of harmony and instrumental color. At the start of Act II my flashlight burned out and I had to look at the stage. Smitten! An epiphany. It changed my life. In that first week I attended five other operas. Life has never been the same.
Having been trained in music, my perceptions have always been music first- the harmonies, the orchestral colors, the construction of the melodic line, the musical-dramatic relations, the construction of the total work, and after that, the quality of the voices. My first attraction has never been to a "prima donna". That may seem contradictory for someone who documents the visual, but because my ears perk first, an opera has never been boring. Music first, interpreters second.
I do have strong feelings about current trends to distort the creators' intensions. This blog will attempt not to be negative. I do not know how I would go about selling tickets to people who are addicted to cell phones, i pods and other electronic devices. I suspect that people are adrenalin-charged now and can't relax, conditioned to jump when something buzzes, conditioned to have electronic-rage when something doesn't function, and subsequently have lost the ability to sit still, relax, and enjoy something of great beauty. A Bach Oratorio doesn't fit into the electronic landscape.
The entries that will follow will include pictures. This first entry sets the stage, my stage.