Growing up in Cape Breton some group would bring in The Canadian Opera as a fund raiser every couple of years. As a result I was exposed to works like Strauss’s: Die Fledermaus one year & Verdi’s: La Traviata another year. I vaguely remember the costumes but that’s about all. I can’t even recall where they performed or if they did whole operas or sections or even if they had an orchestra with them or used pre-recorded music.
But my real introduction to opera was Bugs Bunny! Looney Tunes did a great series of ‘adaptations’ inspired by Rigoletto, The Barber of Saville & others. I have a memory of Bugs wearing a mantilla, rose between his (is Bugs male?) teeth to music from Carmen. Cartoons back in the day were more highbrow than I think they are today.
I didn’t turn me into a fan of opera by any means. It was good to be given the opportunity for something beyond top 10 radio hits but my attention was trained for 5 minute listenings not two hours of sitting & trying to keep awake. I eventually developed a liking for opera but it was never the driving force behind my love for classical music.
By Giuseppe Verdi (Italian 1813-1901) I have an mp3 cd with La Traviata, Requiem Mass & the Overtures. I’m no opera aficionado so who is singing the version I have isn’t that revenant to me. It is good enough for my listening. I’ve developed a like for religious music & enjoy his Requiem Mass. I did a little research to find out what some composers wrote outside of their genre. Verdi wrote vocal music only. The Overtures are excellent introductions to his other operas.
I think one problem with classical music is that it has become over-cultured with a sense that it is for an elite educated ear. Only musicologists are supposed to be able to understand & enjoy it. This same ‘elite’ attitude runs through poetry – if you don’t have a degree you can’t really appreciate or understand, say, Walt Whitman or T.S. Eliot – leave that to the professors or Bugs Bunny.