Opera and Kickboxing

opera

Expanding one’s horizons is what life is all about. 

It is very difficult for me to explain. Throughout my life, I envisioned the opera to be an interest for others, but certainly not me. Although I was always an avid reader, writer, and a lover of literature and music, my focus from my college years centered on more physical activities.

Hiking, canoeing, running, baseball and, most of all, the martial arts consumed my years in between reading and writing. When I was in competition in AAU Tae Kwon Do, I would never have admitted knowing how to spell the word o-p-e-r-a for fear of being blackballed from the sport.

During all the time I spent teaching in Europe, my wife managed to drag me to the opera twice. I saw, at the Vienna Opera House (pictured above), what I surmised to be a horrible presentation, and I cut out at intermission (which I called halftime), and waited for my wife to enjoy the rest of the show alone.

In Milan, Carol dragged me kicking and screaming to La Scala, one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. I admit I enjoyed the voices, so I calmed down – a little. I had no clue what was going on in the presentation.

I don’t remember the year, but we went with some friends to New York City to see Phantom of the Opera. I love my wife, so I allow her to drag me to things she enjoys, even though most of the time I would rather wrestle a gorilla. In any event, we saw the last performance of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, and she knocked my socks off. This beautiful lady could make me jump up and yell brava at a Pittsburg Steelers game.

sarah-brightman

Nevertheless, it was not until approximately two years ago that I began to see something that had never been part of my knowledge base. I started blogging with a friend from Portugal with a website called  Fanaticos da Opera. At first, I found it interesting to acquire a little knowledge about a new subject, as I am a lifetime learner. However, I began to notice a close correlation between the literature I love so much and opera.

After two years of reading the greatest reviews of presentations ever imagined, (for which I wholeheartedly thank my friend, Fanatico Um), I started to appreciate not only the quality of the writing om his website, but also the presentations themselves.

I have been doing considerable reading on the subject of opera, and we have now seen a few performances. I could never begin to acquire the knowledge that experienced opera buffs enjoy, but I am learning to understand the nature of the performances, and the value of the librettos, composers, and actor/singers.

To acquire new knowledge on any subject is a milestone to me. One of my core beliefs is that “we don’t know what we don’t know.” Therefore, anything we learn adds exponentially to the value of our lives.

I am still learning, and will post my progress and opinions in the future.

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Comments

  1. Opera is so full of emotion and at the same time it can be soothing to the soul!. See, u can teach an ol' dog new tricks!. Or at least open their eyes!. Sarah Brightman has a great voice as well as being easy on the eyes, as they say!. :-)

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    1. Chrissy: I can still hear her voice today, and I have purchased several CDs featuring her music. And yes, even old dogs can learn.

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  2. For all I know about opera (very little) Sarah Brightman could be in a CD of mine? We no longer go to the opera. We gave it up because my foot kept falling asleep and I got a lot of angry looks when I would stomp it awake while the aria was being sung.

    I do however adore Pavarotti and often play him--and maybe Sarah too--full blast throughout the house for, as Christine says, opera does sooth the soul. I also like to sing along; the librettos come with the cd's. Aida is my favorite. On the piano, Carmen. I have a very assorted collection of music in my iTunes library, from Rock 'n Roll to Blues to opera. Jazz? No; dental music.

    I don't care to read about opera though. The music is enough.

    Good post. Better than medical care :-)

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    1. Linda: I am anxious to learn much more. Like you express, music is significant in my life (and I do like Jazz, but hate dentists). I also love drama. What I have discovered is that opera combines what I love about dramtic peformances with music, but has some special qualities I never knew existed. I regret having visited a couple of the great opera houses in Europe, but not understanding anything about the performances. Next time, I'll be ready.

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  3. My sister is a true opera lover and when I have been willing to let her drag me along, I have enjoyed it every time!

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    1. Galen: I am learning. Who knows what will come of it.

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  4. I can live without opera, but with it life gets better.

    Happy weekend to all!

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    1. Lotus-eater: So it appears. Thank you.

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  5. Dear JJ,
    I have no words to thank you for the extremely kind comments you made about our blog Fanáticos da Ópera (Opera Fanatics) and about me. They are too generous and we do not deserve so much, as we are opera buffs (yes, this is true), but not top experts!
    We are a small group of friends that do love opera, but none of us is a professional! Our jobs are totally away from music. And we write in an English full of mistakes, because none of us is a native speaker. We dare to translate most of our texts into English because we see that we have many readers of the blog that are from non-portuguese speaking countries. After Portugal, the second and third countries (tie)from which we have more visits are the USA and Brasil. These comments from you give us the input to go on translating our texts, with all our limitations!
    Opera, in my opinion, is the most complete form of a performing art. We have orchestral music, staging, "theatre" and the most beautiful musical instruments - the human voices. All in one. And we have to have a tolerant spirit to let us transport to another dimension, as many of the plots are unreal or a little ridiculous. But opera is magic and some of us are Opera Fanatics!
    There was a lot more to say, but I will stop now. I am sure you will go on discovering the beauties of opera. And the readers and followers of your fabulous blog that have an interest in opera are most welcome to join the followers of our blog and visit and comment there. It will be a honour for us! We write frequently about operas that we see in the USA (one of the best places in the world to see the best in opera!). Please forgive me for this self publicity.
    I thank you again (very very much) for your kindness.

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    1. Fanático_Um: It is I who am honored. I have enjoyed your site so much, and I have learned so much. This has added another dimension to my love of literature, music, and drama. Thank you.

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  6. Thank you for your kind words about our blog Fanaticos da Opera! Opera is one of the most complete art forms and one that worths every second of our life. It is Passion, it is Love, it is... Life! Welcome to this world! Best regards. wagner_fanatic.

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    1. wagner_fanatic: Wagner is one of the composers I have been studying. I was very impressed that he was his own librettist. I would love to see The Flying Dutchman, and when it is performed close to me, my wife and I will attend.

      Also, as a literature fanatic, I have studied many versions of Tristan and Isolde from medieval times. In fact, the legend inspired Thomas Malory's classic, Le Morte d'Arthur.

      Thank you so much for bringing another dimension to my life.

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  7. I wouldn't call myself an Opera fan eith but I also enjoyed Phantom Of The Opera. Being open to different experiences is what life is all about.

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  8. I am not sure I could really get into Opera but Phantom was definitely amazing. It left be absolutely breathless.

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  9. Dear JJ,

    Thanks for your kind words about our opera blog. I’m one of the most recent contributors and I don’t deserve the compliments my colleagues Fanatico_Um or Wagner_fanatic do. I do like opera very much, and I think that opera — but also music known as classical music — is a permanent discover that transport us for a world where we can explore our senses in way that other forms of art can’t. So, you must continue to explore the opera world and we will try to help you on your journey in a modest way! Best regards, camo_opera

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  10. Dear JJ,

    Thanks for your kind words about our opera blog. I’m one of the most recent contributors and I don’t deserve the compliments my colleagues Fanatico_Um or Wagner_fanatic do. I do like opera very much, and I think that opera — but also music known as classical music — is a permanent discover that transport us for a world where we can explore our senses in way that other forms of art can’t. So, you must continue to explore the opera world and we will try to help you on your journey in a modest way! Best regards, camo_opera

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  11. camo-opera - I definitely will continue to learn more. I do enjoy classical music, especially Mozart. Learning new things is what makes life exciting.

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  12. Your pera and kick boxing combo is fittingly Hemmingway Robert B. Parkeresque; better yet,it's Hemmingwayesque...

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    1. I could not receive a nicer comment. Thank you.

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  13. Hi JJ ... I will have to go and check out their site. I've also seen Phantom of the Opera and a few years back the Mikado, I loved Phantom of Opera. Wow, Sarah Brightman. I absolutely love her voice and would love to see her perform live. When I saw Phantom here in Australia Marina Prior was the female lead, Christine.

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    1. Kath: It is great to hear from you at. Yes, it was wonderful production.

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  14. Opera? I don’t think so. While I would like to think of myself as “somewhat” well cultured in an unsophisticated way, I’ve never been able to get a handle on the opera. Though I must admit there many arias, which I love—just don’t ask me to name them.
    I guess it’s the singing of dialog (the libretto) that stops me. However, I do like Broadway musicals even though I’m straight.
    As a child of the Fifties, I was into Doo-Wops, which I use to butcher with my buddies on NYC street corners. But, of course, they were as far removed from Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma as The Apollo Theater was from the La Scala Opera House.

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    1. Ray: For me, it is not as much about which kind of music I enjoy as it is about opera's correlation to literature and learning new things.

      Good to hear from you. I'll have to check out your site.

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