Every day at Northwestern we have to think about classes, homework and extracurriculars as we try get enough sleep and eat three times a day. Among the many things we must plan, making time for the opera is not one of them. From someone who has grown up listening to opera, however, and from those at Northwestern who teach it, you should most certainly reconsider the enrichment of your opera diet as one of your priorities.
I started listening to opera when I was a young girl. My father has always been a loyal follower and I quickly became one too. Since childhood I have attended performances in Mexico City, New York and Chicago. Entering the world of operatic music is one of my favorite memories. I remember watching stories of tragedy, love, comedy and despair unfold before my eyes as enchanting notes traveled through my ears and rhythms through my head.
I am no stranger to Wagner or Puccini, so I thoroughly enjoy going to the Lyric Opera in Chicago. It is possible for someone taking their first steps into this world, however, to appreciate it in the same way. Even the experts think so.
“Opera in the 21st century has been made very accessible to non-musicians as well as trained musicians," says Sunny Joy Langton, Bienen Assistant Professor of Voice. "There are supertitled translations at every performance in a foreign language and sometimes even those in English for people who have trouble understanding sung text.”
For the uninitiated, a supertitle is a written transcript of an opera's lyrics that is shown on a screen above the performance.
One of the first misconceptions of opera is that it is antiquated or boring. Others might be apprehensive about entering the opera world with no experience whatsoever. As Professor Stephen Smith, from the Voice and Opera department, explains, there are many performances set up by the Bienen School of Music. The department puts on an opera performance each quarter, and such on-campus options are a great way to venture into the world of opera.
A formal production of the opera in Chicago, with a good seat, is not cheap. Fortunately, there are ways to get around that. Both the Lyric Opera and Northwestern have tickets at a discounted price for students. They both present the same thought-provoking performances with high quality singers. Although it may seem complicated to attend the opera in the city, it is definitely worth it.
“The Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of the most important opera companies in the world,” Professor Smith said. “It's second in the U.S. only to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.”
At Northwestern, we are regularly uraged by our classmates and professors to go into the city as much as possible. We have an amazing metropolitan city just minutes away, and tucked into it is one of the most prestigious opera houses on earth.
“All the productions feature beautiful sets, costumes, and the thrill of the human voice doing something beyond the imagination,” Langton added. “Who wouldn’t want an experience like that?”