Di has a simple question for us today.
Have you ever been to The Opera?
If so, did you enjoy it or not?
I have a simple answer too. No.
Well obviously, I’m going to write a bit more than that.
Opera singing is one of three types of music I really don’t care for, the other two are country and rap.
I don’t hate it, in fact as I’ve got older and more appreciative of classical music, I find that I enjoy the music written for many operas very much. I enjoy listening to it on the radio. What I don’t care for is the singing. Now light opera, like Gilbert and Sullivan or musical comedies are another matter. I’ve always enjoyed them. I guess that I do like some spoken dialogue because in an opera it is harder to follow the story when it is all sung, especially if it is sung in Italian or German.
I did learn something interesting while I was researching for this post. I wanted to find out whether Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera, both of which I have seen were considered opera. Apparently, they are considered to be musicals although Phantom comes close to being opera. The reason is to do with the different style of singing employed.
Opera is performed using different vocal techniques than musicals. Musicals as a rule are sung using microphones but it is not necessarily a test of the difference. Many singers although not all in musicals use a technique referred to as “belting” which uses the diaphragm and stomach muscles to force out the sound. Ethel Merman was famous for this style as is Patti Lupone and Idina Menzel. Opera uses a different technique that includes keeping the back palate open and specific positioning of the tongue while keeping the vocal cords relaxed. It takes many years to perfect and is quite challenging. Les Miserable is a musical due to the vocal techniques used as is Cats and others that are “sung through”. Phantom of the Opera is also one although it straddles the fence….most of the characters are not singing in an Operatic style. Originally musicals were just plays with music but they have developed into the current form we now see.Sheryl Williams Hansen on Quora
Likewise, modern “Rock Operas” like Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy or The Wall are not operas in the classical sense. When performed live on stage they are considered to be musicals.
I do remember going to see Jesus Christ Superstar in Adelaide when I was a teenager. It was the “concert version”, not the full stage version seen in Sydney and Melbourne. Australian readers may remember that it starred Jon English as Judas, Marcia Hines as Mary Magdalane and I think it was Trevor White as Jesus.
I did enjoy the production of both Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables but I probably wouldn’t want to see either again as the stories were too tragic. I like to come away from the theatre feeling uplifted and as many operas seem to be tragedies, I’m not sure that I would really enjoy going to the opera.
How interesting! Thanks for joining in and sharing your research.
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