Opera – not for me

Diva blog

Diva (10.5 x 12 cms ink and collage on Hahnemühle bamboo paper 2015)

There comes a point in your life when you can finally say that something doesn’t appeal to you. For years I’ve tried to like opera: in my youth I sat through an English-language performance of Wagner that seemed to last for about half of my life; I’ve listened to ‘Live from the Met’ on the radio until my ears bleed; I sat through a live broadcast of Verdi in a park until the dog got so agitated I had to leave. The music is often wonderful – Rameau, for example – but then someone starts singing over it. So now, having given opera every chance, I can categorically say that I don’t enjoy it and probably never will. Well, apart from the melodic bits of Puccini and that Poulenc opera where the nuns are beheaded one by one during the French Revolution.

The caricaturist, Max Beerbohm, once wrote,

These little marionettes with big voice, making so gigantic a pother about something or other, have keen pathos in my sight – types of our poor estate, of our vanity, our pompous endeavouring, our insignificance, on the world’s stage. See! The wee tenor is going to kill himself with a dagger. No! The wee soprano prevents him. Tiny, intelligent, full of purpose, performing with all their might tasks for which I see no reason, they seem to me – these two – like a pair of ants on a pathway.

That’s about it, I’d say.


13 thoughts on “Opera – not for me

  1. Well you certainly gave it a good try! I think it’s something you either fall for straight away, or you learn to appreciate it but don’t quite ever love it. Or you hate it. I’m a lover, but it was love at a first sound when I was very young. I did chuckle at your thoughts about the music being wonderful until someone sings over it. I’m sure you’re not alone in that point of view!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, Michael, I never expected you to say this.

    But thank god! I am in total agreement. Except for Puccini, you can throw them all out – well just cherry-pick the great bits.

    A great example: La Wally. I have just watched Diva again after quite some time (you introduced me to it), and I think it still stacks up. And it is great to see Wilhelmenia actually singing it. But nobody listens to the opera any more – just ‘Ebben, ne andrò …’.

    When Yvonne worked for State Opera I got to see a large part of the repertoire for free. Some of them were OK while you were watching, but others, deadly. I even sat throught the whole of The Ring, but if I want to hear the music again I have a one CD orchestral highlights (the Solti, from memory). Way to go!

    I am loving the illustrations, especially the recent nudes, and then those gorgeous limes!

    Many thanks for your efforts.

    Kind regards


    Michael Deves Unit 1303, 20 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide SA 5000 Tel: (08) 8232 0030 Mob: 0418 827 680

    My new personal email is michael.deves@michaeldeves.com.au

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL! Half a lifetime listening to Wagner sounds about right. I had two CDs called the ultimate opera collection which were highlights of Arias from many operas. That worked for me. Then there’s always light opera…Gilbert and Sullivan which I love.
    At least you tried.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I so totally agree! I even tried an opera degree by distance learning and resigned after one term. I so want to love it but only manage to like one or two arias. Despite this I’ve booked to hear the whole Ring cycle in concert in Gateshead next summer. I must be mad!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can relate as well 🙂 but I think opera belongs in the theatre. There is more likely you can appreciate it more by watching and listening than just by listening alone. Sounds connecting with actions become more enjoyable I guess 🙂


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