Opera is a funny, funny thing.
Everyone has their own preconceived notions of what opera is and how many hours of life it will suck out of you before its over. It's loud, it's boring, it's contrived, it's in a foreign language. You name it, opera has heard it all. And to be fair, all of it can be true. Sometimes.
- Opera is the place where women can wear pants and assume a male character that happens to be written for the female voice. Which, long ago, would have been performed by a male singer (impersonating a female singer who is dressed up like a male) in a female range -- sometimes made possible by mad skills, other times by illegal do-it-yourself medical procedures.
- Opera is the place where you can are about to die from some life-sapping disease, but before you go, you'll sing a gangbuster six-minute aria, complete with full ornamentation on the repeat.
- Opera is the place where a three-hundred pound singer can actually suffer from consumption. Except that in this case, consumption doesn't mean what you think it does.
- Opera is the place where staging often revolves around stationary pieces of furniture. As in -- stand by the chair and don't move...just sing.
- Opera is the place where, if there is to be any dancers, then somebody better go out and hire some, because we don't do both.
- Opera is the original grand spectacle. Sure, landing a helicopter on stage for Miss Saigon might be impressive, but people, Aida has ELEPHANTS!
At some point, though, bellowing for bellowing's sake becomes an empty affair. The power of the story isn't found in really, really loud notes, or really, really high notes. The power of the story comes from within.
Tonight I found myself tonight taking off my Opera boots. I was a poor peasant woman who wore brown, brown and brown. I was frustrated with my lot in life. I was worried. I was harried. I was impatient. I was jealous. In short -- I was human. And when music was layered over this real human existence, there was no need for Opera boots. So I let myself be worried and harried and impatient and jealous. I let myself be human, which meant not all the notes were really, really loud, or really, really high, or really, really pretty. Life isn't always a highly polished, beautiful spinning bel canto sort of affair. Why should the singing be any different?
The result was far more interesting and rewarding to me as a singer. I chose to let the story have top billing and dictate how the singing should go. My costume tonight may have been Rhapsody on a theme of drab, but musically, the palate was a vibrant rainbow, full of every emotion and sound I could muster. No, there were no Opera boots tonight. Just a handy pair of slip-on sandals by the door for those money moments.
It was just right.