Sunday, September 9, 2007

Senti la musica? Non è bellissima?

As you may have heard, Luciano Pavarotti passed away last week of pancreatic cancer at the age of 71.

Normally I'm not a big fan of opera, but he was the rare exception. I like his voice. I have a 2-CD set of Pavarotti's "Greatest Hits". One CD has opera, the other has non-opera stuff like "Santa Lucia," "Oh Holy Night," and "O Sole Mio".... and his duet with Frank Sinatra, singing "My Way".
Ever since hearing of his death, I've been listening to that 2-CD set in my car.
Much to my surprise, I've found that I prefer the opera CD.

I only wish I could understand what the hell he's saying.

I greatly respect the art from a musical standpoint, but I find that it's a real barrier to appreciation if I can't understand the words that are being sung. I have no idea what the storyline is, or the setting, so I don't know what to picture. I can only get a general sense of the emotional import, like "Oh, this sounds sad" or "This sounds joyful."

For all I know, he's singing "Rats are lovely, my curtains are blue, I really wish my belly button would stop itching, rap music sucks, and I'm really sorry my feet smell like this; I've tried powders and everything."

It would be nice if there was a book that gave a brief synopsis of all major opera storylines, as well as the plot settings for each aria, with translations in English.
If such a book exists, I want it.
.

14 comments:

GoingLikeSixty.com said...

me too.

Travis said...

That's the one barrier I have to appreciating any opera. I love Pavarotti's voice because it is exquisite.

I do enjoy beautiful music, but sometimes it would be nice to understand more than the wonderful sound.

Janna said...

Goinglikesixty: Me three.

Travis: Exactly!

Steven said...

Janna, don't fret because such book exists! I have it! Once I unpack it I'll give you the title. It's an excellent book. I always read the synopses before attending an opera. A great resource. There's always the "Opera for Dummies" series too. I haven't used it, but probably a good 101.

Janna said...

Steve: Yay! Better yet, just go ahead and mail me the book. :)

Jamie said...

Janna,

You can also go on line and type in the name of the aria. An English translation is almost always available.

If you want an opera on PBS "Live From The Met", there is a caption running at the bottom of the screen.

Finally, doing a search for almost any opera, will tell you the story line (Wikipedia has almost all the famous ones).

Asara said...

"I've tried powders and everything".. you almost made me snort my pop out of my nose!!!

I really love the sound of opera. I went to see one once, but again, it's hard when you can't understand what they're saying. They had big screens on either side of the stage that showed the person who was singing, and the English translation underneath, but you lose a lot of what else is going on if you're just reading the lyrics.. catch-22 :(

Janna said...

Jamie: Hey, good idea... I could start compiling a binder or something...

Asara: I love the idea of the big screens... I understand about the catch 22, though.

Mo said...

You know, I'm pretty sure some of the lyrics to "Carmen" are "rap music sucks!"

:)

Janna said...

Morgen: Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that said "You can't spell CRAP without RAP." :)

Marilyn said...

Yeah... and La Bohem is all about athletes foot. I think the female lead died of it. It's the only opera I ever saw (It was on TV, with subtitles. Opera.. something new for my to-do list.)

Janna said...

Marilyn: I think I saw La Boheme once... It was either that or La Traviata.

Jason said...

I actually sang in an opera with Pavoratti once. It was a performance of "Aida" (pre-Elton John)at Van Andel Arena in GR. He was a real diva. It was pretty cool. :)

Janna said...

Jason: Very cool!!