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My Horrible Introduction to Opera

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

To my lovely reader, thank you for being here. Welcome to my blog! This blog is to share my feelings, inspirations, and experiences with you. I want to kick off my blog with how I got into opera.

I know, the title is creepy. You're probably wondering, "what the hell am I about to read?" I promise, it isn't that bad! It all started with my older brother, Lynn. Lynn has always been one of my best friends in this world. He was a textbook "cool older brother." If you couldn't beat a level of a video game, he would pick up the controller and beat it with finesse. If you couldn't reach your toy ball that crashed into your neighbor's tree, he would scale your neighbor's house like Spiderman and save your toy. One of the things that brought us together was watching movies, especially scary ones. He and I used to go to our local Hollywood Video in Lawrence, NY to rent horror movies and video games throughout our childhood. When our local Hollywood Video closed around 2008, we started to buy movies at Best Buy with our combined allowances. Our horror fascination was (and still is) riveting. I had the whole family of Chucky dolls by the time I was eight years old (yes, this horror craze goes way back). Our parents always accepted we were crazy horror fans.

I had to be around fifteen years old (my brother, twenty-three) when we found this scary a** movie The Dentist directed by Brian Yuzna in1996. The successful dentist Dr. Alan Feinstone (played by Corbin Bernsen) goes off the deep end when he discovers his wife's affair. He unleashes his rage by torturing and killing his patients. With all of this insanity that occurs throughout this movie emerges these beautiful sonorities that evoke loveliness and pain. They blossom in moments when the dentist feels most heartbroken. Those are the arias; "Liebestod" from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and "Vissi D'arte" from Puccini's Tosca sung by the fierce Diana Tash. I had never heard opera music used so extensively in a movie. I loved it! It was so different from anything I had ever heard before.

I remember listening to the songs on YouTube while reading the lyrics alongside after the movie. The process of translating and interpreting was very mind-stimulating for me. I grew up in a bilingual household, so translating and constantly learning languages was nothing new! I needed to know who the characters were and where they came from. By this point, I was a young soprano in the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra Long Island (North Shore division) from third grade and always sang in my school choir, so I had singing experience in a choir setting plus a few songs from musicals I really enjoyed growing up. I also sang rock and heavy metal at the School of Rock in Roslyn and other bands throughout high school to get through my crippling stage fright. When I turned eighteen and graduated, I knew I wanted to pursue singing classical music and opera. I started taking lessons and homing in on my craft with a group of supportive and talented professors at my community college. I felt like a child stumbling upon on goldmine of perpetual fascination.

The combination of these gut-wrenching arias and the insanity of the dentist made me fall in love with opera head over heels. Opera is so diverse in its literature, musical genius, voice and perspective, influences (historically, socially and politically), and the demand from the artists who take on its gravitas. Everything under the umbrella of opera and classical music fascinated me from fun, light-hearted opera buffas like Le Nozze di Figaro to the grim realistic operas like La Boheme and Jenufa (which was the first opera I saw at the Met). Thanks to my love for the macabre, I fell even deeper in love. I've always appreciated that art can evoke the most powerful messages and the most relatable feelings in somebody. It can put you in somebody else's shoes, teleport you to another time period, and inspire others with timeless stories. I was a horror-loving, metalhead kid who found their calling in a scary slasher film. So yes, my journey started literally quite horribly, but has led me down a path of perseverance, enthusiasm, and pure joy. Horror too, referring to operas Salome and Elektra!

Please comment your introduction to opera below! Thanks for reading!

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