A Night at the Opera / by Didier Young

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The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said that “Music is the universal language of mankind.” There is something sublimely intriguing about music and its ability to convey emotions, whether you understand the language being sung or not. I grew up during the Disney Renaissance Age where music was a focal point of every one of their movies and, as such, I grew to love musical theatre. However, I surprisingly never managed to attend an opera performance until last week.

Never one to pass up on an occasion to dress up, I made my way to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts to attend the Canadian Opera Company’s premiere of the The Abduction From the Seraglio.

Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the opera is a singspiel (literally “sing play,” meaning the actors sometimes speak and sometimes sing). It follows the journey of Belmonte and his servant Pedrillo to rescue their lovers Konstanze and Blonde from the seraglio of Pasha Selim. Even though I have had the chance to attend a few ballets at the Four Seasons Centre before, the space never fails to take my breath away. Opened in 2006, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is the first building in Canada to be built specifically for opera and ballet, and its renowned acoustics create an optimal experience for patrons of the arts.

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We had the chance to sit in one of the private boxes which granted us a wonderful overview of the performance space and the large orchestra pit. Soon the lights dimmed and I was officially introduced to the wonderful world of opera. As soon as the curtain went up, I was transported by our protagonists. It is astonishing how powerful the human voice can be. Opera singers have the ability to project a wide range of emotions over a full-size orchestra and fill a 2,000-seat opera house with their voices. However, the performance doesn’t stop at the vocal cords: opera combines different art forms including singing, orchestral music, choreography, dance and set design which make it an incredibly collaborative art form. While the Mozart piece I saw first premiered in 1782, The Abduction from the Seraglio still feels relevant in today’s society with its themes of women’s freedom and fear of outsiders.

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Opera has long had a reputation of being very bourgeois and a tad stuck up but as it turns out, it was a fun and very contemporary outing that I am sure to seek out again. The next time you’re planning a glamorous night out, perhaps you should put on your fancy shoes and head to the Canadian Opera Company. I hope that you’ll be all ears about my suggestion.

-Didier

 

This post was sponsored by the Canadian Opera Company. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.