Boston Lyric Opera, like most arts organizations, has a devoted Board, loyal Subscribers, and a sturdy group of volunteers. We couldn’t do what we do without them! We reached out to some of our “biggest fans” to learn why they choose to support BLO and how they came to love opera.
Hugh (Subscriber, Volunteer)
Yuen (PRIMA Member)
Sasha (PRIMA Member, Volunteer)
Jane (Board Member, Subscriber, Volunteer)
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH BOSTON LYRIC OPERA?
Hugh: A friend of mine used to work in the development office and I started volunteering to help her out and I just continued after that. Working as a volunteer has made me appreciate all the work that goes into the productions. I am now a subscriber as well.
Yuen: While attending Graduate School [in the mid-90’s] I managed to see one BLO production a year. I then moved away for work and came back to the area in 2008, and have since seen 10 BLO productions. I'm also a fan of the BLO/Landmarks Orchestra concert on the Esplanade-- it serves as my “opera fix" during the summer when BLO is dark!
Sasha: In 2009, the Met was planning a new production of Carmen that I wanted to attend. While researching the Met cast, I noticed that Mercedes was to be played by Boston’s Sandra Piques Eddy, who in turn was [soon] to play Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo at BLO. That led me to the BLO website, which revealed that the opening production of their upcoming season was also Carmen! In August of 2009 I signed up to become a BLO volunteer and, as the saying goes, "the rest is history.”
Jane: We attended a few BLO productions in the 1980s and began subscribing in the early 1990s. Upon retiring in 2005 I began working as a volunteer, and last January I joined the [Board of] Overseers. Currently I retain all of those hats!
HOW DID YOU COME TO APPRECIATE OPERA?
Hugh: Growing up, classical music was always part of my life. I remember as a child helping my family prep for elaborate after-concert parties. I studied piano and flute as a child as well. Now music is such an important part of my life that I often use the #musicislife on twitter. (Follow Hugh the “truth seeker and music lover” on Twitter @hughinboston)
Yuen: I have always enjoyed classical music, but I caught the “opera bug” when I was 19 during my junior year abroad in London. My father encouraged me to see opera [while I was there], so I went to Covent Garden, sat in the cheap "Upper Slip" seats and I was hooked!
Sasha: I grew up in Russia, in St. Petersburg (or Leningrad as it was then called). None of my parents or grandparents are musicians, but they instilled in me an appreciation and respect for opera, ballet and classical music. I absorbed popular operatic excerpts by watching concerts on TV and taking theory classes in music school, so I grew up with a certain level of respect for the art form. But it wasn’t until I started attending the Met Opera “Live in HD” series in 2007 (prompted by my opera-loving grandfather), that I really started to get interested in the opera plots, characters and singers. In addition to having subtitles, I liked the interviews and behind-the-scenes shots, which helped to de-mystify the art form. (Sasha Tweets about opera and classical concerts in Boston and NYC. She is also a co-organizer of @BostonClassical and @BostonOpera MeetUps. Follow Sasha on Twitter @sasherka)
Jane: When I was in college a friend, who was studying opera, made a highlights tape for me as a thank-you gift for a favor. I knew that he would question me about it and nag me until I listened to it so I did, grumbling all the way to the tape recorder. He had chosen his selections well, however, because they had instant appeal for me. Even more appealing was the story line of each opera-- I had to know more! I have never stopped seeking.
WHAT ADVICE OR ENCOURAGEMENT WOULD YOU GIVE
TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER ATTENDED AN OPERA?
Hugh: Just try one out! And keep an open mind.
Yuen: Don't go to an opera when you’ve had a long day at work, or have to get up at 6am the next day, or have a big project/presentation due. And don't expect your very first opera to blow you away. It may take 2 or 3 tries.
Sasha: Go online and do some research. Decide if you want a comedic opera or a tragic one. A fan of Shakespeare? Look up an adaptation. Maybe you heard an operatic-sounding song in a movie? Why not look up the original source? YouTube is a great resource! Once you decide on a performance to attend, do your homework: read about the composer, production notes, maybe even a synopsis (though sometimes it’s better not to be spoiled ahead of time). The more I learn, the more I realize there is a life’s worth of operas to discover. Enjoy the ride!
Jane: Opera is an art form worth getting involved with for a multitude of reasons, one of which is the window into human emotions it inevitably opens. Some people respond to art through their intellect-- [they try to] understand what the artist intended by learning about the historical context of the time of the work's creation. Others just plunge right in and follow where their senses lead them. Figure out what sort of art consumer you are and try that approach to opera. If it doesn't work try another approach. If you are fortunate you will find yourself responding on both these levels and your life will be immeasurably enhanced.
Click here for information on how to become a BLO subscriber.
Click here for information on PRIMA, BLO’s young professionals group.
Click here for information on how to join BLO as a volunteer.