This courtesy of Anju G., titled “A Personal Ad… In Graph Form”:
This reminds me of one of my internet dates a couple of years ago. The very nice, but somewhat dim, woman asked me, “Do you like opera?”
Now, I come from humble origins, but I have striven to educate myself in most forms of world culture and supposedly high art. I started attending operas as a teenager, as a way to expose myself to an ancient and revered form of music. To be honest, I fell asleep in most of those early operas. But with the advent of sous-titles, foreign language performances became more accessible to me.
One of my favourite scenes, as a kid, from the movie Alien was the one in which the Captain, Tom Skerritt, was having some leisure time to himself on the bridge, relaxing with his headphones on, listening to opera.
That scene resonated with the 12 year old me, because I’d never before considered this type of music to be a source of relaxation. So that sent me on a quest to explore, to some extent, the powers of opera. Luckily, the Toronto Opera Company had dirt cheap seats for youth –an excellent idea for introducing the form to a new and jaded generation.
Over the next few years, I attended La Boheme, Don Giovani, The Barber of Seville, La Traviata and some more of the classics. I even tried my ear at light opera, like Pricess Ida and The Mikado.
What I discovered was that I do heartily enjoy the cinematic grandeur of most opera, the tiny tales they tell, and the thundering voices of their performers, always brushing against perfect pitch.
But I don’t actually enjoy attending operas so much. I start to squirm and become self conscious. Music, for me, is about relaxation. I can’t really relax in formal wear, while trying to sit still in a room of a thousand strangers.
So this is what I explained to this young woman who had asked me the question. She looked at me blankly and said, “What are you talking about?”
“Opera,” I said. “You asked me about opera.”
“No,” she said. “I asked if you like Opera, that Black woman with the TV show.”