In anticipation of the 2016/2017 season (and with single tickets going on sale this Monday!), we're looking at a special memory of Norma that was part of a very exciting weekend at the Met!
For our 10th wedding anniversary we received a weekend at the Met as a gift. It was a full weekend: The Flying Dutchman, Billy Budd, Norma, and Eugene Onegin. All were good performances, but Norma was the most memorable. The arias were breathtaking. After that weekend I went from being a passive listener to becoming an avid opera fan, endeavouring to become familiar with the operas of a given season. This was good practice because in the production of Werther, the tenor singing the part of Werther couldn’t reach the high notes of his arias. Had I not heard the recording of this opera, I would have considered it a dud, not worth hearing. However, knowing what the results should be, I consider it pleasing, if not great and wouldn’t mind hearing it again.
Tell us about The Opera That Changed Your Life by e-mailing email@example.com your own 100 to 200 word story. It may be featured in an upcoming Parlando post! Learn more here (here for mobile version).
Photo credits (top to bottom): Marco Berti as Pollione and Sondra Radvanovsky as Norma in Norma (San Francisco Opera, 2014), photo: Cory Weaver.
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One of the most amazing abilities of opera is allowing the listener to feel waves of emotion, many times without understanding the language being used. Our contributors this week experienced something truly amazing during their stories, and we felt it was only right to share them with you.
I am a long-time subscriber to the COC and have had many wonderful experiences attending the COC’s ever-higher quality programming. However, there is one event which stands out in the recent past, and one which I would like to share.
Four years ago I lost my father rather suddenly, and was still in the raw, painful, recently bereaved state when I attended the marvelous production of Tristan und Isolde at the COC. I am a big Wagner fan but this was the first time I’ve seen the opera on stage, and in addition to being thrilled by the piece I was struck by how the modern production blended perfectly with the music composed in the late 1800s. I was tearful through most of the last act, particularly during the wonderful “Liebestod,” where the large screen visuals showed a body rising slowly up through water, like being brought back to life by the power of love. It was sad, and moving, and beautiful at the same time, and at the end of it I was left with a sense of calm and consolation. Indeed, art heals.
Scenes from our 2013 production of Tristan und Isolde, directed by Peter Sellars with video installations by Bill Viola.
I have been a COC subscriber since forever, it seems, but I was a most reluctant opera-goer for many seasons. In the 1980s, however, I saw Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites on the stage of the horrendous O'Keefe Centre and finally understood the power of this most sublime art.
Dialogues was unlike any opera I had ever seen: the mostly female cast, the brief scenes, the conversations rather than arias. Nothing distracted me from becoming emotionally involved in the lives of the characters, and I recall resenting the intermissions that separated me from them. By the end of the performance, with tears flowing freely, I was convinced that the nuns were walking toward a REAL guillotine off-stage, and resumed breathing only when the audience erupted into applause. I didn't applaud. I couldn't. I still can't whenever I'm in the audience, and it still takes me a long time to return to reality after a performance.
Although 18th- and 19th-century operas will always be my favourites, this 20th-century masterpiece never fails to overwhelm me with its beauty, simplicity, and power. I rejoice whenever the COC announces that Dialogues will be part of its season.
(left - right) Janet Stubbs and Maureen Forrester in our 1986 production of Dialogues des Carmélites, which took place in the former O’Keefe Centre
Photo credits (top - bottom): Melanie Diener as Isolde in Tristan und Isolde (COC, 2013), photo: Michael Cooper; (left - right) Janet Stubbs as Mother Marie and Maureen Forrester as The Old Prioress in Dialogues des Carmélites (COC, 1986), photo: Gary Beechey
Being a young adult can be hard enough, but that time is also an amazing opportunity for exploration and discovery. In honour of this week's release of our Opera Under Thirty presented by TD's nightsOUT packages, we take a look at some of our contributors' moments of discovery that took place in their formative years.
When I was attending Queen’s University in about 1960 I took a course in French Literature from the late Dr. Shortliffe who was a wonderful teacher. He was playing La Bohème one day when we walked in for his lecture. It was beautiful and he responded to our interest by telling us about the opera, describing the characters and pointing out the recurrent musical themes. It was transporting, unforgettable.
Now I am a psychiatrist, and finding the themes of opera everywhere in the stories I hear. I attend the COC as a loyal subscriber and make trips to the Met as well to listen to what I love. It’s a lifetime joy.
I am 81 years old. Up until the time I was 17 or 18 I hated opera. To me, it was just loud noise and screaming. Then, my best buddy lent me his recording of Turandot and said, “Try it, you'll like it.” I did, and it's still my favourite opera. But, more than that, it introduced me to a new and magnificent world of music. However, I still don't care for Wagner, with one or two exceptions.
Franco Corelli singing "Non piangere, Liù" from Turandot
At 15 years old, I did not have too much of an idea what opera was. My friend from my Catholic school played for me some beautiful arias, so at a Sunday matinee I got a stand-up ticket in the fourth ring. No subtitles at that time. It was The Marriage of Figaro—Victoria de Los Angeles and Christa Ludwig—still singing in my mind. The opera that stood my hair up was Turandot with Montserrat Caballé and Birgit Nilsson. After that I spent the rest of my teen years and youth at the theatre ... on my feet … many other legends I’ve had the honour to see. Also spent a few years studying classical dance with one of the maestros of this opera house. I can't live without music ... Now taking vocal lessons at my age, 67, and discovering my strong bass... A long time I have had season tickets at the COC.
Photo credits (top - bottom): (l – r) Lisa DiMaria as Papagena and Rodion Pogossov as Papageno in The Magic Flute (COC, 2011), photo: Michael Cooper; (l – r) Eric Margiore as Rodolfo and Joyce El-Khoury as Mimì in La Bohème (COC, 2013), photo: Michael Cooper
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001