|The Magic Flute at the ENO. Photo by Robbie Jack|
In Europe last semester, we took advantage of being in major capitals of culture to see top-notch opera. We saw the crazy production of Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream in Berlin that I wrote about earlier. My brother gave us tickets to the season-opening concert of the London Symphony Orchestra for N.'s birthday, which happened to be a concert (non-staged) performance of Rigoletto. It was so so so good! We couldn't bring ourselves to pay the super-high prices charged by the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, but near the end of our stay in London we did splurge on tickets to the English National Opera's new modern-dress staging of The Magic Flute, which was really wonderful. N. loved Rigoletto and The Magic Flute, especially the tenor's singing of "la donna e mobile" in the former and the excellent singer who played Papageno in the latter.
My primary acquaintance with opera before the past two years has been through CDs that collect famous arias. I love listening to Maria Callas, Beverly Sills, Kiri Tekanawa, and famous singers of earlier eras work their way through the repertoire. But I never bothered to learn more about most of the operas from which these pieces come. I'd seen a few operas (Butterfly, Tosca, La Boheme), but I didn't know a lot about the form. So I'm really enjoying N.'s developing love of opera because it's giving me the opportunity to learn more. We don't study up on the operas before we see them, but let them wow us in performance; we follow up later, reading and listening and youtubing. At the opera, all three of us feel a Betsy-Ray-ish excitement "when the curtain goes up!"