In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

Opera Expectations

Dec 21, 2011 10:16:00 AM
By BLO Staff

Before interning with Boston Lyric
Opera, I had no exposure to opera. However, working behind-the-scenes during Macbeth
allowed me to learn what opera is really about through I a story I already knew.
I broke through many of the preconceived notions I held about the opera.
These are a few of the misconceptions
about the opera that I had:
“I won’t be able to understand an opera because I don’t know {insert
language here}.”
When I attended the new Broadway
production of West Side Story, in which Spanish lyrics were incorporated, I felt
concerned about seeing a show in another language. I know everything about West
Side Story and I studied Spanish for five years, yet I left feeling confused.
How could I appreciate and enjoy an opera I know nothing about, told in a
language I don’t understand? However, my fears were assuaged when I learned
many opera companies project English translations (called supertitles) on
screens during the performance, allowing the audience to follow the story and appreciate
the amazing vocal talent. Additionally, there are operas composed in English,
like Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, which BLO will produce in February
as this season’s Opera Annex.
“Opera is just a bunch of people singing. Only people with intense
vocal training can really appreciate it.”
When I first entered the Citi
Performing Arts CenterSM Shubert Theatre for Macbeth, I initially noticed
the display of bodies hanging from the ceiling of the stage. The scenery was
awe-inspiring. Don’t get me wrong; opera is about the amazing vocal talent.
However, it is also a performance, which makes it a
theatrical experience.
I have a bit of vocal training,
(as much as high-school chorale can provide), enabling me to appreciate how
talented and well-trained the singers are. However, even someone who has never
sung a note would be impressed.
“Operas are so long!”
Although many operas run longer
than a typical movie, musical or play, an opera production tends to have more
intermissions. Although the run time of an opera performance may be four hours,
the audience isn’t expected to stay seated the entire time. There are two to
three intermissions! This provides time for the audience to stretch their legs,
visit the restroom, grab a snack and get excited to experience the rest of the
“I don’t think opera is my thing.”
If one has never seen an opera,
how does one know? Take a chance; Carpe Diem!
Attending the opera is a unique
and interesting experience that enriches the individual. While it may be a new
and scary experience for many, I encourage everyone to take a chance and try
something new, see an opera! I think you’ll figure out for yourself if it
really “ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”
-- Elyssa
Sternberg, Boston University ‘15

Topics: opera knowledge, Student Posts, audience engagement, loving opera, macbeth

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