I had the great pleasure of seeing the opera Turandot at the Seattle Opera two days ago. Puccini's Turandot is about a princess that relishes her freedom being unmarried and kills her suitors if they can't answer her three riddles. She meets her wit's match in the unknown Prince. I've mentioned before how much I enjoy opera and so I might as well say it again. It's part musical, costume drama, symphony, sculpture, performance art, humor, dancing, acting, singing, and poetry all rolled into one. And Turandot is also pretty violent. (OK, artistic violence, but in spirit it's as violent as any action picture.) So you can't say opera is boring or all sappy love stories and such.
I was struck that I needed to say more about opera after reading an article in the New York Times today about How Hollywood Films Are Killing Opera. Basically, the article points out how a few movies like Moonstruck and Pretty Woman have made the American viewer think that real opera can only be serious and traditional and thus has stopped opera houses all over the country from trying anything new or innovative because the masses won't come to anything they don't think is real opera.
As a newbie to opera (I have only seen four.), I find myself wanting to see a lot of the traditional "classics" just as the article states. And I don't think this is wrong. But the more opera I see, the more interpretations I want to see and the more variety I want to see. And as I looked over the Seattle Operas current season, I caught myself thinking I wasn't interested in the unknown operas and that we really needed to see Cinderella and La Boheme. But I am still a beginner and need to pick and chose carefully where I spend my opera dollars. Hopefully next season I will be able to get season tickets and then I will get to experience a larger range. I also have a fantasy of traveling the world to see different versions of the Barber of Seville, my first and favorite opera so far.