This is for Robin - so she can see that my mom really did try to educate me in the opera life style. The photo is of my mom in the opera Faust and this is what she wrote back to me when I sent her this picture:
The role is that of Marguerite in "Faust" by Charles Gounod. There were many other operas with the same theme of Faust, selling his soul to the devil (Mephistopheles) in order to be young again, and when he is (young) he falls in love with Marguerite and of course ruins her. It's based on the famous book of Goethe's " Dr. Faustus" which was a legendary story. It's beautiful music and of course drama as well as romantic . The tenor (Faust) took the story very seriously anf REALLY kissed me on stage quite romantically. Not in rehearsals. Don't know why this opera isn't given more. Maybe because the story ends with her death and transfiguration. Satan tries but doesn't get her soul.
She sounds rather happy about that kiss doesn't she? Mom must have been in her late teens, early 20's in this picture and was singing with the City Opera in New York City. I think she looks very beautiful in this picture.
Mom sang with the opera until I was about 6 or 7 - I think she finally gave it up when she realized that she had to bring us up, and not leave it all to maids and aunts and cousins. Probably peer pressure from said aunts and cousins didn't help - all those women stayed home with the kids. We lived in an apartment building, in a two bedroom flat with the piano in the foyer. It was a nice apartment but small and of course you could hear everything that went on from room to room. Mom would practice after we went to bed, hence my nighttime lullaby's were lovely death aria's and the like. Beautiful music but somewhat disconcerting to an imaginative child.
Before she quit singing with the opera, mom would take me to her rehearsals and occasionally I would get dragged to a performance. I say dragged, because I never knew what was going on, I was a tiny kid and was totally oblivious, all I wanted to do was stay home and play with cousins and not go and get culture. Picture a little 4 year old blondie, dressed in mary janes, white socks, little dress and coat with matching hat - holding onto her dad's hand and going to the opera. And then watching your mom DIE ON STAGE!!!. God, I hated that part, and didn't really understand that the knife wasn't real, and that she while she appeared to be jumping off the parapet...she was jumping onto a mattress in the back (that's what dad told me). The music was over my head, the whole performance was over my head really. I was usually tired and would fall asleep in the chair, the best part was dad carrying me out (ooh, I got choked up writing that - makes me miss dad.)
So...what is the point of this post - I guess there really isn't a point. Robin is an avid Opera Fan and has been writing about her experiences at the opera and I enjoy seeing her joy and love of that art. I simply can't go to the opera, it literally puts me to sleep (remember the lullaby's) or scares the life out of me. While I enjoy the music, it's often too close to home to truly enjoy independent of my history with opera. Certain aria's bring me to immediate tears...and I can imagine that once mom is gone, I simply won't be able to listen at all.
So...what's your thought on opera??? (and would you take a 4 year old to see a performance?)