Did I ever mention that I have season tickets to the opera? To be honest I don't know much about opera except I love going to performances and getting caught up in the costumes and singing and general festivity of the event. There is always so much energy and passion. So I always try and educate myself a little before each performance. Last fall it was Rossini's The Barber of Seville based on the play by Pierre de Beaumarchais. The production was quite modern and great fun!
Next up is Puccini's La fanciulla del West based on the play by David Belasco, otherwise known as The Girl of the Golden West (it is one of the events tied in with a current art exhibit at our local museum). Fanciulla is Italian for "girl" (pronounced I have read: "fan-CHOO-lah"). Some interesting things about the opera I've just read:
"La fanciulla is a tale of redemption and unlikely love in Gold Rush California. Like [Madama] Butterfly, it is based on a play by David Belasco, who worked closely with Puccini on the original production. It is a curious opera with many unusual qualities that keep it on the fringes of the repertory: there is only one female lead role and only two females altogether in the cast. There is a large ensemble of male solo parts, sometimes individual and sometimes functioning as a chorus. And there is the orchestral texture, which is big, lush, and quite daring. It is a far cry from the world of Bohème. One critic after the premiere thought the score more appropriate for the San Francisco earthquake than fr a tale of inconsequential little people living outside of civilization."
I have a copy of William Berger's Puccini Without Excuses: A Refreshing Reassessment of the World's Most Popular Composer to help me along to learn more (above quote taken from the section on fanciulla). The opera premiered in New York in 1910 so it is relatively modern, and according to Berger--without Puccini "there is no opera". I'm looking forward to dipping into the book and finding out why. You may well hear more from me on the subject.
As if being able to just go to the opera isn't enough of a treat, since I am a season subscriber, Opera Omaha offers special little perks and one is coming up in just a couple of weeks. I am able to attend a backstage, behind-the-scenes event. I'll be going on a backstage tour of the theater, and will get to hear the director and designers talk about their processes of pulling off the production. One of the cast members will be transformed into their role in the opera through costume and makeup and to top it all off I can stay and listen to the first rehearsal with the orchestra though they won't be in costume. Needless to say I am ready for February to arrive for a variety of reasons, and this is one of the big ones.
I have read loads of novels set in the theater world (or, if not read them, own them or am familiar with them), but surely there must be some set in the opera world? It could be fun to follow that reading path . . .