Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Intern. Same Opera House.

Hi! My name is Alex and I am the new summer intern here at the Detroit Opera House. I started here a couple weeks ago and so far, I have learned more about opera in two weeks than I have in my lifetime. In the fall I will be a junior at the University of Michigan where I study Economics and Theatre & Drama. These two majors have nothing to do with each other and everything to do with each other at the same time. I am interested in business and arts and I could not have imagined all the possibilities to work in a business environment within the world of performing arts. I hope to one day combine my two passions into a career in arts administration and am really excited about the opportunity to be the Marketing and Public Relations intern. I look forward to giving you guys a unique perspective on what goes on around here and keeping you informed about all things art!

Always feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts in the comments, I would love to hear from you!

A First Time for Everything

Yes, I am an intern at an opera company and I had never seen a professional opera performance. As a theatre student I have worked on and seen more than my share of musicals and plays. Regretfully, I have only attended short operatic performances at my school’s music department concerts. Well, was I in for a surprise when I was given an opportunity to see the Michigan Opera Theatre’s last performance of the season, Rigoletto.

The very first thing I noticed when I entered the theatre was how well dressed the entire audience was. I am used to the business casual attire of musical theatergoers, not the suits and dresses of an opera. I must say I was not disappointed though, I love a good excuse to get dressed up. I had invited my mom to go with me due to her reawakened interest in performing arts, and clad in her nicest work outfit, she felt underdressed. Well, now we know. We took our seats and performed our preshow ritual of reading the entire program before the curtain goes up.

As the show began, I was blown away. The performers’ voices were simply amazing. One thing that intrigued me the most was the difference in sound quality from a musical. Instead of music that could be heard perfectly well while wearing earplugs, the operatic voices were not aided by microphones. The music floated through the air of the auditorium instead of pelting you like this awful Michigan weather. As a complement to the naturally beautiful voices was the sheer power of the huge orchestra. The music was both moving and commanding at the same time, and they did not fight each other.

During the third act, I was caught off guard when “La donna รจ mobile” began playing. I have heard this song so many times before, how did I not know it was from a famous opera?! This just goes to show how much opera affects the other art forms. I don’t even know how many movies and television shows that song has been a soundtrack for. According to Wikipedia, it has been featured in things such as South Park, Sesame Street, and Saturday Night Live just to name a very few.

As the curtain closed on the final performance, I knew my first venture into the unknowns of opera had been successful. I determined this based on a few criteria: I actually enjoyed the show, I was astonished by the talent and I wanted to see more.

I was not prepared for the vast differences between my usual musicals and this sophisticated show. However, I encourage EVERYONE to see at least one opera in his or her lifetime (although, after seeing one, I dare you to not see another). I was more than pleasantly surprised by how accessible and entertaining Rigoletto was and I can’t believe I have only seen one opera in my almost 20 years. My view of opera as too complicated for my simple tastes has forever been changed and I hope none of you and yours wait as long as I did.

What was the first opera you saw? Share your experiences in the comments.