Opera—Love It or Hate It

When I was growing up, Saturday was house cleaning day; vacuuming, dusting, polishing, etc. While all this was happening, Mom would turn the radio on to a station that played opera from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It not only took the sting out of cleaning house, but I fell deeply in love with opera.

Over the years, I have heard and loved the exquisite voices of Kiri Te Kanawa, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, Enrico Caruso, Andrea Bocelli, Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, Mario Lanza, Sarah Brightman, Ezio Pinza and others.

Although I have been lucky enough to attend Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in Boston when the D’oyly Carte opera company was still performing, I have never been to the opera. There are so many songs that have moved me to tears, sung so beautifully and powerfully by so many.

I have loved theatre for years, and was lucky enough to be in the chorus of the Texas Light Opera Company of Dallas (now defunct). We put on the HMS Pinafore, Patience and the Pirates of Penzance. I missed it when I moved back to New Hampshire.

I realize that for many, opera is just musical pomp and circumstance, or just loud and annoying. I’ve had friends who just can’t stand the *mezzo and coloratura sopranos; to them, the voices sound screechy and too high. For me, they are angelic.

I get it; not everyone likes the same kind of music. For instance, I loathe and despise rap. To me it just is too ‘in your face,’ loud, rude, offensive and irritating. I’m sure that the same could be said for people who loathe and despise opera. To each his own.

Just suffice it to say that this is another case of loving what we love, and letting go of those things that we do not love. Again, to each his own.

*From good old Wikipedia: A mezzo-soprano or mezzo (English: /ˈmɛts//ˈmɛz/Italian: [ˈmɛddzo soˈpraːno] meaning “half soprano”) is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range lies between the soprano and the contralto voice types. The mezzo-soprano’s vocal range usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (i.e. A3–A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4). In the lower and upper extremes, some mezzo-sopranos may extend down to the F below middle C (F3) and as high as “high C” (C6).[1] The mezzo-soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, lyric, and dramatic mezzo-soprano.

A coloratura mezzo-soprano has a warm lower register and an agile high register. The roles they sing often demand not only the use of the lower register but also leaps into the upper tessitura with highly ornamented, rapid passages. They have a range from approximately the G below middle C (G3) to the B two octaves above middle C (B5). Some coloratura mezzo-sopranos can sing up to high C (C6) or high D (D6), but this is very rare.[1] What distinguishes these voices from being called sopranos is their extension into the lower register and warmer vocal quality. Although coloratura mezzo-sopranos have impressive and at times thrilling high notes, they are most comfortable singing in the middle of their range, rather than the top.[3]

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