Ahh, the European getaway, new and inspiring sights, smells, and sounds; the discovery of beautiful things. In this week's tales of life-changing operatic events, we hear from two patrons of the COC who fell in love with opera while taking a trip across the pond.
My most memorable opera experience was in France in June last year (2015). I was visiting my French boyfriend who was living in Paris at the time and he told me to dress up for an evening surprise. I had no idea what to expect, so I put on a dress and got whisked away in his little Fiat out to the Parisian suburbs of Sceaux. When we arrived, we walked through a beautiful manicured park until we reached the destination. Turns out, he surprised me with an outdoor performance of La Traviata by Verdi with the Château de Sceaux serving as the backdrop. I thought I was dreaming. It was magnificent. I’ve attached a photo taken on my BlackBerry. It absolutely doesn’t do it justice.
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When did you first listen to opera? For this instalment of The Opera That Changed My Life, we look at two submissions that found the music that changed their lives during (arguably) the most dramatic time in anyone's life: the teenage years.
La Bohème as a high school student. Act IV, orchestral chords before Mimì sings "Sono andati." That one moment caused me first to shiver and then to weep. Changed my life. I decided this was my career path. And I am fortunate to continue that choice.
The first instalment of our new The Opera That Changed My Life series features COC General Director Alexander Neef's story of the opera that changed his idea of what opera was. It also happened to be his first!
(Transcribed from a conversation with Alexander Neef.)
The opera that changed my life? Fidelio, Beethoven, Staatstheater Stuttgart.
I was one of the first in my family to really go to the opera. I didn’t really see much opera in my youth, but when I started going everyone started going!
This Fidelio was a very striking production, directed by a very famous Russian director, Yuri Lyubinov. At the time, Lyubinov had been given a leave by the Russian government to stage a play in London, and he didn’t go back. They wanted him to go back, but he just didn’t. He was in a legal limbo. He stayed in Europe and started directing a lot of opera, and among the operas that he staged was the Fidelio at Stuttgart.
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001