There’s a wonderful opera fan out there who corralled several other ardent fans into starting their very own on-line magazine about opera, called Opera21. It’s a brilliant venture, where they find a theme each month, solicit articles by their own readers, and put it out into the cybersphere for discussion, growth and discovery. Absolutely my cup of tea! The following is a letter I wrote to their editor for the February 2013 edition, and just wanted to share it with you here, as well.
Congratulations on the launch of this exciting on-line magazine where each of you can delve deeper and deeper into your passions for opera and music! It’s wonderful for me to have the confirmation of my passion about opera through your eyes, because each of you are ignited by the same emotional journeys, breathtaking musical moments and awe-inspiring productions that I am, and you are eagerly seeking a way to learn more. Trust me, as long as you’re game, the journey of discovery never ends! Enjoy it!
I predict your operatic journey may sometimes be a love/hate relationship – for where there are big passions, there can be enormous disappointments. Whether you are an aspiring singer who faces a deluge of rejections (oh, they’ll be there – just keep breathing!), or a fan who suffers through a cast that isn’t to your liking (or, God forbid, isn’t the same singer you first saw when you fell in love with a particular opera back in 2009…!), the disappointments will most definitely be there.
But so will the euphoric moments, and those blessed moments of tears and laughter or overwhelming profundity – or you’ll receive that first contract, or be accepted into the ensemble and begin relationships with friends who will be with you for life. The highs and the lows will both feed you in completely different ways and ultimately bring more depth and joy into your life.
But may I offer one word of caution, or request one small favor? Please don’t become a snob. Please just resist that urge should it rear its ugly head. It’s not cool, definitely not attractive, and terribly, terribly boring. No matter how much you know, or how much you see and hear, and no matter how strong your opinions are, please don’t flirt with that imperial “level of knowing” where you stop listening, stop feeling, and stop learning. By all means, be critical if you like, but please consider offering your opinions with grace and elegance. In other words, “Stay classy.” Trust me, it will enhance your operatic experience by miles.
Throughout those inevitable highs and lows, please fight to keep the faith, and please do your part to keep the dialogue open and moving forward, so that you (yes, YOU) can be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. I want YOU to help figure out where opera goes in YOUR Century. Get creative, spread the word, think outside the box, be open enough so that the newcomers who will come and look to you for guidance will feel welcome, and please keep listening with those curious, eager ears so that the next generations of singers won’t feel that they have to compete with a “DiDonato” or a “Florez”. (Not that there is anything wrong with either of those two!)
Finally, at last its my turn to stand up and applaud each of YOU, and yell BRAVI for your efforts and for your enthusiasm! You are my argument against “Opera is a dying art form”, so get loud, get strong, and yes, stay classy!