OH, THOSE VERDI CHORUSES!
by TERESA VERDE
Arias of love soar through the concert hall! Male and female voices overlap as the tenor and soprano duets multiply the love. Quartets of intertwining voices intensify the harmony. The baritone elicits an ominous foreboding through his deep tones. So many feelings expressed in the richness of song! But it's the chorus that brings it all home, with the explosion of their combined voices, threatening to break the sound barrier, while simultaneously taking our breath away.
I love the opera, for purely emotional reasons. The passion. The drama. The depth of feeling. The grand scope of each production, with period costumes, elaborate set designs and dramatic special effects. Visuals, music, and ambience all woven together. Not just amazing music, but a story with a roller-coaster-full of emotions.
Opera is grand. It really is. As grand as the singers are large. In the same way that my Italian family talks with sweeping arm, and almost violent hand gestures; emphatic facial expressions; and all too often engaging physical acts, like enveloping you in bear hug the size of Texas; all in the name of love.
I was raised with opera, and for opera and life, I have a passion!
Each soloist's voice is riveting in its expression. In the novel, The Song of the Lark, Willa Cather portrays the force of an opera singer's voice: 'The guitar sounded fiercely and several male voices began ... Johnny's reedy tenor ... and the bricklayer's big opaque baritone ... Then at the appointed, the acute moment, the soprano voice, like a fountain jet, shot up into the night.'
And all that romance! The tenor soothes my nerves and kindles my heart with his sweet arias of love and tenderness. As I bathe in the music, I feel personally serenaded. In the same way my husband feels Kiri Te Kanawa is singing to him of her deepest dying love; into his very soul; into her loving embrace.
Yet all of that can't top the forceful eruption of the combined voices of a chorus. It's an undeniable explosion. The unity of strength created in so many voices.
I attended Seattle Opera's recent production of Macbeth. Very intense. The loveless opera they call it, for it's all about power and greed. Just before the curtain came down, Act I ended with the music of the chorus, like a fireworks finale on the Fourth of July. It was a sheer blast of passion!
Copyright © 23 October 2006
Teresa Verde, Seattle USA