No More Bed-wetting

I can recall the moment when I first took an interest in operatic singing.  It didn't happen overnight....that was bed-wetting and I think I have finally got that licked.

A particular piece of music laid down the bridge.  I first heard it used in an Olde Spice aftershave commercial on British tv in the 1980's and before I set out for America in '86 was told by a friend that what I had heard had been "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana.

So when my days at sea were finally behind me (a long story) and I bought my first stereo system in the USA, one of the first things I bought to play was Carmina Burana:  the Cleveland Indians led by Michael Tilson Thomas, all three of whom did a bang-up job.  The singers on there were the first operatically trained singers I got much exposure to, though in the '60s I had heard Callas, Sutherland and Geraint Evans on a live variety show called "Sunday Night at the London Palladium", which was televised on Sundays but I can't recall from which theatre.  I was listening mainly to the Beatles and Bob Dylan at the time so paid scant attention.  I do recall drawing a moustache on Joan Sutherland's face with a crayon during a close-up.

Anyhoo, Judith Blegen and Peter Binder sang on this Carmina and I simply could not tire of listening to them sing.  I had other musical interests at this time and did not yet run to the local Tower waving a credit card in the Opera section.  That came some years later when I channel-surfed and came upon the 3 Tenors Caracalla performance, and from sheer curiosity, taped it on my VCR.

Searching my local library, my interest now piqued, I found a Met Bohème with Carreras, Stratas, Scotto, and Stillwell, and from that day on found time in my life for Opera.

Better late than Never, say I.

While I lived close to New York I took full advantage of the Met, seeing maybe 30 shows a season for 4 years.  Other theatres became the focus of vacations; San Francisco during the War Memorial Theatre's closure for refurbishing, the Lyric in Chicago, Sante Fé before the remodelling, Cinncinati, Seattle (lured by Wagner performances), and of course , closer to home, visits to NYCO.

What I did not bargain for was being able to talk to people on a computer about Opera and, taking the next step, arranging to talk to them in person at a performance.

So, not only did I discover a whole "new" world of music, with a 400 year history, but I discovered, through e-mail and personal meetings, a new world of Opera Buddies who would be the icing on my cake (in Terri's case I mean this literally).

There is ALWAYS something to look forward to as an opera-person, be it a recording on CD or video or a live show, and when the latter involves packing a suitcase and meeting friends in a far off place, the experience is truly an escalating series of highlights.

In the early days, around November of '93, I was simply going to the Met alone, savoring the performance, and then going home to feed the cat, who alas, had died some years before but I couldn't bring myself to bury him.  I used one of those wooden paper towel holders inserted in, er, um, suffice it to say he stood in pride of place on my mantlepiece.

Now, whether it be a good thing or a bad, my opera journeys ("Jamborees") are weighty affairs involving secretaries, road managers, personal trainers, technicians from Guinness Breweries in Dublin, pipeline layers from Alaska, and a food taster.  Friends fly in from across the country for Wagner performances, which are those that mean most to me, and we spend quality time before and after the performances depleting the local stocks of fresh shrimp and sea bass, draining their beer casks, and harrassing the hapless waiters (though we tip well).

I can say, confidently, that all of the Opera newsgroup people I have met in person have been fun, charming, bright, and witty people, but then I am pretty good at screening out the ax-murderers and dullards.

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