Friday, June 27, 2008

The Big Digital Learns About the Opera

Apparently there's more to it than what I got from watching Looney Tunes on Saturday morning cartoons.

On Wednesday night, I attended a discussion group that meets monthly for the 2nd time, and this time the topic was the relevance of opera. (Last month's topic was the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty). In preparation for the discussion the guy who would be leading the discussion sought out a bunch of opera clips for us to watch on YouTube and picked a few articles about opera and classical music and their relevance/place in modern society.

Being pretty much a total opera n00b -- I went twice in high school as part of a "take kids to culture and hope it rubs off on them" thing -- and wanting to be able to participate in the discussion I read all the articles and watched all the clips twice, once before reading over his notes on each piece, and once after. And I have to say...there's still a lot about opera that I don't understand. I really don't have any kind of background in music theory and appreciation, so there was a lot that went over my head or just didn't register on my radar. Still, there were a few pieces I enjoyed and after two times through the list of clips I was starting to not be totally put off by opera.

The discussion was quite informative, in part because the guy leading the discussion happens to be a professional opera singer, but also because there were a lot of people at the discussion who knew a lot as well. At the end of the evening, he sang a short piece for us (while playing it on the piano to boot), and I have to say that it was definitely impressive. How a person can sing that loud without yelling is beyond me -- and I imagine he was toning it down a bit since we were just in his living room. I have to say I enjoyed the evening quite a bit, and armed with a newly acquired list of operas that he recommended for first-timers, I'd be a bit more inclined to see one. Not sure I'd go out of my way, but if someone invited me to one, I'd be less inclined to say no.


CJ said...

I saw The Barber of Seville in Chicago this winter, which is supposed to be one of the more neophyte-friendly operas. Um, yeah. You know that I'm rather inquisitive, always up for new cultural experiences, and one who appreciates some of the finer things. But aside from one or two parts, I was in agony. I'm open to learning more as well--which invariable heightens appreciation a great deal--but have a feeling there will be limits. Like with running: exposure != appreciation--or at least not readily.

By the way, why does it not allow me to subscribe to e-mails of subsequent comments only after my initial comment? I.e., I have to comment twice in order to get it. Bizarre.

CJ said...

Here's my second comment so I can subscribe to futher comments. Oh, and I attended a similar discussion group on Wednesday. One of my roommates, an economist at the Federal Reserve, gave us a primer on the history of federal banking, U.S. monetary policy, etc., etc. Very good stuff. Since it's DC, there were, uh, 30+ LDS singles packed into a small house w/ no A/C. I think I moved to the right place.

j said...

Well...Barber of Seville wasn't on the list that this guy gave us, so maybe you just got unlucky. Or maybe Opera just isn't for everyone. There definitely appeared to be a steep learning curve.

As for the DC thing...let me know if you know of any informatics openings out there. Still looking while this Columbia thing is up in the air.

CJ said...

I'll keep my eye out. There's just so much going on out here. I really think you'd like the mix of singles in the wards. Plus, there are four huge wards, all of which network quite well, both professionally and socially. And Colonial 1 is loaded w/ cute girls.