Most hands do not go up when I ask my audiences, “Who is an opera fan?” It’s as if I had asked, “Who is a big fan of brussels sprouts?”
Yes, there will be a few enthusiasts, but most faces go neutral, some almost grimacing.
Sarasota Opera House
While it’s true that it is the most expensive performance art form in the world, opera’s power lies in the most human of experiences.
It was Giacomo Puccini who understood this best. He brought opera into the 20th century. Prior to this, operas (which literally means “works”) were based on stories of the nobility or the gods, a realm unreachable for most.
Puccini wrote about the common man and woman, the people often living in the margins.
He wrote about disadvantaged and abandoned women and children (Madama Butterfly)….
Artists living on the edge
The adulterers (Il Tabarro)…
Conniving family members
Women who had to give up babies (Suor Angelica)…
Brave and independent women (La Fanciulla del West, The Girl of the Golden West, Puccini’s opera about the American frontier).
Even political terrorism and intimidation (Tosca)
Can you imagine what an inspiration his stories were to these immigrants? Which is why they not only listened to his music, but sang the arias while they worked…on railroads, in mines, in quarries.
No wonder that some readers have said they found themselves wanting to listen to opera while they were reading my book. No surprise, as I listened to it when I wrote it, so I could convey the immediacy of the emotions.
One of the most beautiful gifts I have received in creating the Aria Tour was meeting Puccini’s granddaughter, Signora Simonetta Puccini – a grand lady, his last living descendant, head of his Foundation. I delivered to her a copy of The Stonecutter’s Aria years ago and she read it. Because my tribute to Puccini’s music endeared her, she has made it possible for me and my guests to come to the Puccini house in Torre del Lago (Tower on the Lake) and enjoy both a private home tour and concert in the salon.
(Signora Puccini and Carol)
She invites a soprano and accompanist (it is a great honor for them to be asked to perform in Puccini’s home). For an hour, we get to sit and listen up close and personal to the soaring voice and the music played on the very piano on which the Maestro wrote his master works.
It feels as if we have stepped over a threshold into the veiled past. We are hearing the music just as he would have heard it.
I have been to many operas from the Met in NYC to a chapel in Rome to an outdoor performance in Carrara – but this experience transcends time.
Puccini! And he was there.
Come with me in the Spring and experience this for yourself. You don’t have to be an opera lover to be transformed by the power of a moment suspended in time.
(Torre del Lago, View from Puccini’s home)
Olive Oil Tasting at The Nestle Inn, downtown Indianapolis
September 29th - Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. To reserve your spot for this educational and delicious journey, visit Nestle Inn
I will be in Italy for most of October and November. I will be posting on FB and Instagram daily. Follow My Tuscan Aria and enjoy a daily dose of beauty!