Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Opera - Do you love it??? or can you leave it???

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?)


sukipoet said...

Mim, I love this post and getting to know some of your life history. Fabulous photo and wow re: your mom and her talent and courage!! It's all so interesting. Yes, scary to see yr mom die I should thing. The drama of it all.

Not sure abt taking a 4 year old. In your family, it was such a family affair, it would almost seem pretty natural to do so. Without realizing perhaps how the overblown drama might effect a young child. Thanks for sharing your story. And your mom's story.

studio lolo said...

wow, that photo!!!

I can see why you were traumatized at the opera. Yikes, watching your mom be 'killed!'

I'm not a fan of opera at all. I can't stand soprano singing. It gets on my last nerve! But I love it when other people are passionate about it because we all need to be passionate about something.

I love the image of your dad carrying you out. I can see why that evoked some teary eyes :(

I wonder if your mom ever longed for the stage once she gave it up?

Robin will love this post. I know I did.


Robin said...

Robin DOES, indeed, love this post!
Thank you, Mim, for posting it. Your Mum is a beauty - and I can see you in her.

I understand how you feel about Opera.... four is a really young age to start experiencing it.
(I didn't go until I was eight - and that experience was traumatic for me - and....it wasn't even my Mum being "killed" on stage!) You have come to this art form in a totally different way than I did...and you carry so many memories... (and always will).
I truly understand how listening to certain arias can bring you to tears...because of those memories.
(I am beginning to experience this now that I am single....so many operas remind me of my ex..... it "ain't easy".

One of the three Summer Operas we are currently doing is..."Faust".
I haven't posted on it... and will do a small one today in honour of your Mum!

Thank you for sharing this...to me, it is a lovely gift....

Love and "High C's", (sorry, Lo)

♥ Robin ♥

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have never been into opera. I have friends that like opera. I have an acquaintance that has a daughter that is stufying opera. She is in Italy this summer working in operas. Very serious. I wouldn't take a child to the opera unless they showed some sign of liking it in the first place.

Cris, Artist in Oregon said...

Oh what a beautiful Mother and photo. Something to treasure for ever. I love that people get all dressed up to go see an Opera.. but thats about all I love about it. Not my cup of tea.. but then thats what makes this world so special. We have so many choices to like or not in life. Thanks for sharing.

Lynn said...

Wow, what a beauty! Does she have regrets at having chosen to give up her career as an opera singer?
No, given what you have reported here, I would not take my kids/grandkids to that kind of an opera just the ones written for children. Perhaps they are operettas. I really don't know anything at all about opera. Never was exposed to it. DH sometimes listens to one. It's over my head.
I always enjoy reading your childhood memories. Thanks for sharing...that was the "point" for me. ;-)

Jos said...

Oh my word, your mother looks amazing Mim. I came to opera late in life. I cultivated an interest to give me something to talk to my mother about. As a techie sort of person with an incredibly artistic mother I found it hard to find any common ground. But now I love opera and we go regularly. Massive Verdi fan, but I have promised Robin to give Wagner another go. Her enthusiasm is just infectious! xx Jos

Lori ann said...

Mim, what a wonderful post, your Mom is a beauty. I don't know opera, but between you and Robin, I am noticing it now.

And your comic was fantastic, I really love it. It's exciting watching how it's done.

xoxo lori

kj said...

mim, i couldn't go to bed tonight without leaving a comment. i read this today in the middle of my work day. your Mother is so beautiful, and you look like her!

i love how you wrote this. my family never really went to movies, let alone opera. i've only seen one myself: madame butterfly just a few years ago. i must say i loved it. opera has some passion. i don't understand it, but i can feel it too when i listen to the music and voices.

4 years old?! too young. lucky for you you fell asleep. the image of your Dad carrying you out is so vivid. makes me want to cry abit too. how we miss our fathers.

i love you dearly, mim!

Baino said...

I'm ashamed to say I've never actually seen a live opera despite buying tickets for my mother for many birthdays. Just leaves me cold. I've tried, honestly, I've watched them on telly, I've listened to Arias but I just can't do it. Lovely story about your mum tho and watching her 'die' on stage, bit scary for a 4 year old!

Michele said...

I've never been to an Opera but after my experience at the ballet, I'm guessing I probably wouldn't do so well : )

~Babs said...

No, I don't do opera, although sometimes I think I may be missing something. Other times, not.
This is a gorgeous photo,,I'm sure she had a most amazing time while performing.She had to miss it when she left, I would think.
As for a four year old? Definitely not MY 4 year old! He doesn't even sit through an entire kid movie.

PS: I have BOWL envy from over at Lolo's place!

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Most any theater with costumes I love, but have only gone to an opera once and I was disappointed as it was The Barber of Seville done in a 'contemperary' setting with motor scooters and cell phones....Ugh!

PAK ART said...

I've never been to an opera but I've heard the singing on tv and it grates on my nerves. However, I'm a HUGE fan of strong women who go for it and do what they want to do! Not too many women get to sing opera on stage, she must be an amazing woman.