Opera and Open-Mindedness

By Alison True, April 4, 2021
Why Opera, why now?

Styles of Opera

My first experience with opera was when I saw “The Sound of Music” with my friend. I was in 8th grade, and when we arrived at the theatre and opened the playbill to see an opera singer was playing the Mother Abbess. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but me and my friend shrugged and enjoyed the show.

When time came for “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” the singer, who I regretfully cannot remember the name of, opened her mouth and made me gasp aloud. 

I swear to you she did not have a microphone, but even still, the seat was vibrating. Time came for the last note, and people were out of their seats before she finished. 

I told this story at one of our FLEFF events, called “Why Opera? Why now?” The event was all about why is opera so important right now, especially when opera singing can be dangerous with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ben Robinson, a tenor and artistic director of Opera Ithaca, put it very well in his closing remarks. He said “Why opera, why now? Because we are 400 years into it and just getting started.”

Reflecting on opera, this event taught me about how diverse opera is. I asked a question about different types of opera, and one of the singers began singing German opera. It sounded different from the Italian opera duet that was sung earlier, and that sounded different from the Russian opera sung a few moments later, and much different from the English opera I heard all those years ago.

In my head, I knew that there had to be separate styles of opera, but I had no clue about what that meant. 

Hearing all the different styles and being educated on all the differences really broadened my perspective. I am familiar with how there are different styles of singing, but I never assumed there would be different styles of opera.

Realizing there are different styles of opera helps me recognize that even though it doesn’t occur to me, there are different styles of everything. From film styles to singing styles, FLEFF has helped broaden my ideas of style and such.