The Belfast Beacon

Consider Opera

Gabriel Lindo

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Everyone has heard about opera, but few actually listen to it. The first words that automatically come to mind when people hear the word, “opera,” are probably “loud, powerful, and high (high relating to high notes).” Opera is an unpopular genre that has been unfortunately forgotten. Rap and pop are currently the top two popular genres. These genres can’t be compared to opera because the skill level is NOT the same. Opera takes years to master, but takes seconds to appreciate. Just listening to it will blow your mind and take you to places you’ve never been before. It’s that moving. I used to be like everyone else, vaguely knowing what opera is and not caring enough to listen to it. Pop and R&B used to be my favorite styles of music, but now I could care less about them. They have been replaced with something better, something real. The moment I listened to it, was the moment I began to appreciate it. It was also the moment I decided what to do with my life. I want to be a professional opera singer.

So what is opera? Simply put, opera is a type of music that involves singing without a microphone, but with an orchestra. It also involves a wide range; being able to sing both high and low. The ability to sing for long periods of time and in multiple foreign languages such as German, Italian, and French (languages mostly used) are also characteristics of opera. Opera goes back to the 1500s. It originally started out in Europe, and over time, spread all over the world (“When Did Opera Start?”).

There are many different kinds of opera singers. Females can be soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto. Males can be castrato — very uncommon because it involves castration — countertenor, tenor, baritone, or bass (“Who’s Who: the Different Voices in Opera”). It all depends on how high and low you can go. You’ll find opera houses located all over the world. Specifically, there are 125 opera houses in the United States (“Opera Houses”). There’s a lot that goes on in opera houses: singing, dancing (primarily ballet), and acting occur, because opera tells stories through these activities. Nonetheless, opera is used in plays –mostly dramas– though some professional opera singers take a different approach, releasing their own albums instead of performing in dramatic productions. Professional opera singers make their living on stage either way.

The following opera singers are my favorite: Maria Callas, Hila Fahima, and Pretty Yende. All are sopranos. Of the three, Maria Callas is the most well known, though she’s been dead for 54 years. An American opera singer, she was born on December 2nd, 1923 in New York City. She started singing at the age of seven, and rose to fame in the 40’s gaining the nickname, “The Tigress” (“Maria Callas”). Her career had its ups and downs, but that doesn’t take away from the influence she’s had on fellow opera singers including Hila Fahima and Pretty Yende. “The opera singers I admire the most are the legends Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, and Joan Sutherland. The danger would be to copy those people,” said Pretty Yende (“A Career in Opera Adds Up”). The three did covers of the same song, “O Mio Babbino Caro,” a soprano piece written by Giacomo Puccini. I recommend listening to all three versions because they could get you interested in opera.

Not many people know who those sopranos are because opera isn’t popular which also makes them unpopular. However, Emmy Rossum (actor and singer) is an exception, she’s another one of my favorite singers. She’s a well known artist due to the roles she got. One of her roles was very influential. She was actually the person who got me interested in opera. After watching her in The Phantom of the Opera, I became attached to that certain type of music.

Opera still exists. People need to broaden their horizons, step out of their comfort zones, and try new things. Just because the majority listens to pop and rap doesn’t mean you have to as well. No one I know listens to opera, which makes it hard to relate to people, but that’s fine because I know what they’re missing out on. I hope I can convince people through all this information to appreciate opera and bring it back to life. Honestly, it’s a dead genre…and hopefully that’s only temporary.

Check out these links to sample some opera!

Maria Callas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6bSrGbak1g  

Hila Fahima: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOCho-tgU3g

Pretty Yende: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avrx9bIYcys

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Consider Opera