Actually, I think I was born in love with Opera but I didn't know it until I heard my first one when I was around four years old. I still marvel to this day how it was that way back then in middle Tennessee when there was no more than three channels on the television, that one day I was lucky enough to be indoors and a captive audience when it aired.

I had no idea what I was listening to as it was sung in a foreign language but I did know the name of it, La Boheme. It was years later that I researched to discover it wasn't even in Italian as I had guessed it would have been. The only black and white movie I could have possibly seen back then was made in Germany in 1955 and sung in German. It didn't matter. I fell in LOVE. I wouldn't even let my mom talk to me when I was watching it, she told me in later years. I would shush her and say, "Be quiet mommy, I'm listening." The emotions were tremendous in those voices and I can still remember sitting in my chair staring straight ahead in awe and wonder. Somehow, I knew what was going on by the scenes and emotions projected from the songs. 

Later when I was twelve years old, another movie version of LaBoheme came out and a bonus for me was that I got extra school credit for going to watch it, which I had to do alone because no one else wanted to see it not even my mom. I was just as moved the second time around and that sealed it for me, I was a bonafide Opera lover. Just knowing that made me feel set apart and special because I didn't know even one other person who could say the same thing. Still living in middle Tennessee at that time the only other kinds of music I ever heard outside of songs we sang in school were Top Forty, Christian or Country. I was too young to realize it at the time but the film is looked upon with high acclaim for the talent in the production and for being a realistic scene Hollywood version of it rather than performed on a stage. 

Throughout life, I continued to occasionally listened to Opera or watch performances on TV. I liked hard rock, punk rock, reggae (before it was cool), and Opera, which I think is only seen as cool to other Opera fans.  

In the late nineties during a trip I planned around Europe, one of the absolute must do things on my itinerary was to see Opera in a classic Opera House. With the Internet still in it's relative infancy that was no small feat to line up and make everything else we wanted to do line up as well. I decided I would give up a whole bunch of other things to attend an Opera if I had to and I was well determined to make it happen. Finally, after a few days of searching and trying to communicate with people in Italy, I was able to book seats for Don Giovanni playing at Fondazione Teatro Comunale di Ferrara! What a thrill! (If I find pictures of me there I'll add them later)

I bought a special expensive fancy dress I thought suitable and decked out in my best jewels that I guarded and lugged around Europe just for this occasion. And I must say, I still wasn't over dressed lol. It was everything I ever imagined it would be and more. The house was so grand that to have dressed in anyway other than your very best would have been an insult. And the sound of the live performers echoing around the hall was nearly overwhelming. It filled my entire body with vibration in a way that is indescribable.

We were in one of the balcony sections and when a larger couple sat in front of us, being I was in the last row of that box, I decided to stand so I would not miss one detail of the performance. I didn't even mind. Every very single minute of balancing in heels placed on well worn feet from having already spent weeks pounding the hard streets and hiking mountainous climbs in other parts of Europe was worth it. I only really remember the feeling of the huge smile on my face and my heart pounding with emotion. 

Another of my favorite Opera memories is about the most opposite on the experiences spectrum from attending a performance in a historical Italian Theater as one can get. A few years ago my son went with me to a small Opera exhibit production of Barber of Seville in a library room on the west side of Kauai featuring local performers. They had cardboard stage props and told what happened in the story between the songs they performed and it only lasted under an hour. Still, it was great and I loved it! I also loved that my son was with me and that he wasn't bored but actually enjoyed it too.The two singers were really good and definitely made it entertaining for the approximately thirty people who attended of all ages.

So now I finally get to the part about why I am writing this blog.

A week or two ago my daughter and I were talking about my upcoming birthday, it's one of the BIGGYs! She told me Alice Cooper, whom I've never seen was coming to my town around that time to find out if I might be interested in going. While that sounded really fun, I knew the tickets were expensive and truly it wasn't exactly like it had been a lifelong dream or anything so I didn't jump on that chance to go see him as a present. We started talking about things going on in general in the area when I remembered to tell her that I came across a troupe from her town that will be performing LaBoheme in my town and that I was thinking about getting tickets to treat myself as it would be here around Christmas. For me it was just a chance to share childhood memories and to say why it would be interesting all of these MANY years later to see that particular Opera again. I knew she didn't especially like Opera and TRULY THIS WAS NOT A HINT! It was just something to talk about on the phone that day along with all of the other things we managed to fit into one conversation. 

A few days ago, she surprised me by giving me a heads up, that she bought tickets to it for my birthday so that she and I can attend together! Now it's not going to be in a glorious fine Opera House nor will it be sung by world renowned performers but I bet it will be just as wonderful, and moving and beautiful to me as it ever was. Lord willing, I will make it that much past my birthday to get to experience it with her. I have to, I am already looking forward to it! 


Copyright 2023 Wanda Hope Carter all rights reserved. 



Topics: opera, music, family
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