As we pushed through the cold, crowded streets to the Met opera house, one of my fellow Lemons, quoting the movie “Pretty Woman”, explained that there were two types of people. Those who force themselves to the opera long enough to appreciate it and those who hear one aria and have a love affair for the rest of their lives. I count myself among the former.
It began when I was in third grade. My school’s music teacher, eager to culture our Spongebob soft brains, began Opera Club. Any elementary schooler who wanted to watch Met recordings was welcome to give up their lunch and recess every Tuesday to do so. Looking back, I suppose there are a few reasons I chose to join. My friends all did it, I wanted the teacher to like me, and it was better than playing outside in below freezing temperature. And I’m fairly certain I actually enjoyed the opera.
It’s that hesitation about my feelings towards opera itself that make me pause before claiming myself an opera lover. I never listened to opera outside of the club. When I saw a production with my mother a few years later, I found it soporific. And during Sunday’s performance, my mind kept wandering from the action on stage.
Yet I would still say that I enjoy opera. Because for me, opera isn’t something on a stage. Opera is a medium for certain experiences; a label for a various disjointed and defining moments of my life. Opera is how I’d drag my folding chair to the corner of the music room and cry when ever a duel happened and how one girl would always miss the big aria to consol me with reminders that the guns were fake. Opera is sitting on the rich red carpeting of the Met balcony eating pasta out of tupperware with the other kids on the field trip. Opera is laughing with my friend in her basement about our music teacher’s crush on Juan Diego Florez. My love for opera wasn’t instantaneous; it is ever evolving. And this past Sunday, the snacks, stories and smiles we shared between acts are what will help me love it even more.