Sunday, December 6, 2009

Who Are We? Who Are You?

Who are you? By the Who... Great song... in fact, they had a couple of rock-operas... I think. I know Tommy. And I know Pete Townsend was continually fascinated with merging rock and operatic elements to create a work with more depth.

Which brings me to opera. Is it a dying art form? I think people have been asking that since Mozart’s time (you remember that guy... from that movie... with the funny laugh).

I would never be pretentious enough to say that an art form that has been around for hundreds of years is dying. Yes, it is getting old. And with the musical and media forms that have come and gone over the past 400 years, there are a lot of choices out there for people to get their musical fixes.

But let’s stay on the topic of opera. I am a regular guy - really. I like McDonald’s. I listen to “All 70's All The Time!” on the radio. I play video games. And I like opera. In fact I love opera. Why?

I find opera to be the pinnacle in not only musical performance, but performance art in general. Look at the components - the best singers, the best musicians, great sets, great story lines, great music... and all of this is done live. It is truly amazing if you think about it. So much potential for disaster - and yet, we take the Met (New York) and Lyric (Chicago) performances for granted. Every successful performance is a miracle. OK... Maybe I am overstating it a tad (I can imagine some of the music nerds rolling their eyes at “miracle”..) But no doubt, sitting through an opera is a chance for a person to witness art at the highest level.

And yet, where is the demand? People should be lining up - like they do for tickets to “The Lion King.” And they don’t. Are people afraid? And if they are, what are they afraid of?

I won’t lie. It wasn’t like I just sat down and started listening to opera. There is work involved. I started with arias (songs) that caught my interest, investigated further into the work, read a lot, listened to recordings, and eventually reached a point to where I could understand most of what was going on... and it was worth the work I put into it.

It is mind blowing thinking about the writing that went into Strauss operas for example. And as for the performers and singers - I will let them speak for themselves in terms of how much work they put into their craft to deliver the performances the works demand.

It is very expensive to perform an opera. Without grants, tickets would rival Zeppelin reunion ticket prices. But luckily for us, it still remains relatively inexpensive entertainment - especially when you take into account for what you get for that 20 to 80 dollars. The pinnacle of performance.

So back to The Who. Pete Townsend understood that he could push simple 5 minute rock songs into something more substantial. He may have even coined the term “Rock Opera” (feel free to correct me on that). Why choose “opera”? Because “Rock Show Tunes” or “Rock Play” or “Rock Theater” just didn’t have that oomph! At least that is my theory. Opera is a connotation for greatness. (Hey - “Won’t get fooled again” just came on as I am writing this... on my 70's radio station. This HAS to be a sign from God)

So speaking of God, let’s talk about Fresco Opera Theatre. (wink wink) We are a company focused on presenting opera in a fresh way. We are a group of people, who can, at times, be very fresh, but despite that, are committed to presenting opera to people who are interested but don’t know where to start. Perhaps we can take some of the work out of it for you. Our goal is expose people to what we feel passionately about - a great art-form and the best performers that deserve to be heard. We will entertain, educate and engage. The three E’s.

We have auditions this week for our “Dueling Diva’s” competition. We will be listening to some very talented singers and making choices for our March 5th performance. While we work to put this show together, we want to hear from you. We want to know everything. Talk to us on Facebook! Email us! We want you to be a part of this. And besides, you can chat it up at the water cooler in the office and impress the hell out of your co-workers... “Fresco Opera is considering my ideas...”

Now the “Overture from Tommy” just came on... I am starting to freak out... is Fresco on a mission from God - as Elwood from the Blues Brothers always said? (I am kind of serious - but my tongue is also kind of in my cheek.)


  1. Love the blog!

  2. "So much potential for disaster - and yet, we take the Met (New York) and Lyric (Chicago) performances for granted."

    I think the potential for disaster is part of why opera is so great. You know, people watch hockey to see if a fight will break out, and NASCAR to see if there'll be an awesome crash. Opera is so exciting because with so many people involved, so many high notes to sing, so many set changes to happen, so many supers and children and dogs... and orchestras!... there's a great and exciting potential for danger that is fun to experience.