One of my major inspirations is opera. I know many people aren’t mad about it. Indeed, even though I grew up in a family that loved classical music, my grandfather, a charismatic (and loveable) patriarch, detested opera and wasn’t shy about expressing his feelings. As such, I was a bit of a black sheep when I started listening to Bizet and Puccini in my teens (I know, I’m just so wild).
There are challenges to opera of course. It’s a stylization of life that many don’t find accessible. The fact that the voice acquires its full range and power when women are a decade or two older than the supple young characters they’re playing (ditto for men) doesn’t help.
All the same, the music takes me somewhere. Its distillation of moments of emotional power and intensity, around dramatic expressions of narrative, often leaves me on the edge of tears (or indeed, over the edge).
For instance, there’s a moment in Tosca when Scarpia, the villain (who happens to be the chief of the Vatican Police), sings an absolutely magnificent invocation. See, he’s fascinated by Tosca, he lusts after her, and wants to dominate her spirit. He’s a nasty piece of work, but it’s such a beautiful piece–potent and sinister, yet oddly moving in the way that it combines the sacred and the profane. It’s unquestionably my favourite moment in that entire opera (even though Tosca’s aria Vissi d’arte is more traditionally lauded). Tre Sbirri is on my “kickass opera” playlist and I’ve heard it enough that it seems to have enmeshed itself in my psyche.
The result? Continue reading