Monday, April 24, 2006

Going to an Opera

A friend of mine recently asks if I would like to attend an opera sometimes on May. The show (The Coronation of Poppea) will be at the Houston Grand Opera.
I've never been in an opera concert before. Partly because I often associate opera with the following assumptions:

1. Opera is only for rich people
2. Opera will put me to sleep
3. Opera is a dead art form, ancient operas are performed over and over again
4. Opera is sung in foreign languages which I don't have a clue

So I search around the web and even go to the Houston Grand Opera website to find out more about this form of performance art. What I could conclude, in retrospect, from the above assumptions are:

1. While getting front-row seats at a top-notch opera theater like the Houston Grand Opera can cost you a month's worth of groceries (over $200) but if you're willing to sacrifice your fantastic view of performers' feet, cheap seats usually available for $40.
2. Not unless you're bored by murders, intrigue, magic, switched identities and star-crossed lovers
3. Just because most operas are ancient doesn't mean it stops attracting people. In fact, the fastest growing opera audience in the U.S. right now is people in their twenties and thirties, so the classics do keep their appeal.
4. It's true that most well-known operas were written in Italian, German or French. Most opera companies now offer translation on stage for the audience. Personally, I think opera is not like watching movies. You can just read the story line before going to the opera. The experience will be more enjoyable!

So I am looking forward to going to this opera show!

For those who wonder how "soap" opera was coined soap opera, here is the reason in short:

In the 1920s, radio was booming, and broadcasters wanted to get advertisers in to increase their station's profits. So radio stations convinced businesses that sold household goods to sponsor radio shows. To appeal to the main consumers of these items -- female homemakers -- the radio stations created the daytime serial drama format. The first radio soap opera ran in Chicago and was sponsored by a margarine company.

Soon, all the networks had shows aimed at women, and companies selling cleaners and food products raced to sponsor the shows. For example, Proctor & Gamble's Oxydol soap powder sponsored a popular serial drama in 1933. By 1939 the press started calling the shows "soap operas" because so many were sponsored by soap manufacturers.


Cal the Wonderdog said...

Interesting perspectives on opera and hacking BSpot!

Cal, the now awake wonderdog

Helen Wang said...


Thanks very much for your comment on my blog! You have a very interesting blog here, keep up with the good work too!