I would love to love opera

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Because I married a wonderful person who loves me, for our recent wedding anniversary the wife bought us tickets to see Madam Butterfly, which is being performed at the local symphony hall.

Tonight, we went.

Well, we didn’t go. The wife was (sadly) sick, so I attended with Joan and Stanley Pearlman, my parents. And I was psyched. There’s something about the idea of opera that really does it for me. On countless occasions I’ve taken the bliss of a long drive from down there to up here by rolling down all the windows and blasting opera. On countless occasions I’ve sat in my office, down and sorta uninspired, and switched the mojo simply by playing opera. Opera music, to me, is a warm, windy day. It’s standing at the edge of a mountain and gazing into the sunset. It’s big and bold and important and impactful.

I love (the idea of) opera.

So—again—we went. We sat down. The music began. I was happy. Tapping along, clenching my fists. Just so thrilled. And as the show commenced, I turned, eh, less thrilled and more … sleepy. I found my eyes starting to shut, then open. I nodded off. For five minutes there’d be a truly absorbing scene, followed by 15 minutes of a performer making clear that we fully understood he/she felt anguished. I wanted the performance to move faster; to get to the point; to switch things up.

And that’s when it hit me: I do love (the idea of) opera. And I do love listening to opera at home. But the show—at least this particular show—made me second guess when this is, in fact, my medium. That actually became pretty clear during the first intermission, when I went to the bathroom for a piss. While washing my hands I turned toward a guy next to me—probably mid-50s, gray hair, goatee—and said, “Does it say I’m an idiot that I’m sorta bored?”

He was not particularly empathetic.

“Well, I don’t know,” he said. “If that last duet didn’t move you, something’s off.”

It didn’t move me.

Something is off.

To be clear, the stars—Yunah Lee and John Pickle—were tremendous. The orchestra was otherworldly. I could have listened for hours, content and electrified.

I just grew stale watching.


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