From out of nowhere, opera has seeded itself into my soul. When reviewing a villa in Italy (as you can read in the upcoming Spear's), I felt under obligation to listen to something Italian and cultural on the through-house sound system.
Up came Tosca. Out went my established (non-)feelings about opera. For better or worse, I'm smitten.
Like most music (altho' unlike the Rite of Spring, which was instantaneously powerful), it took a couple of listens to get the feel, to start grasping the structure, to identify the characters, eventually to observe the motifs. By my fourth listen (now back in London on my car's CD player), I began to get swept away by the power of Tosca, which is perhaps not ideal in automotive circumstances.
Finally I could see what the fuss was about. The role of Tosca (sung by Maria Callas in my version) is joyful and wrenching, a heart-breaking turn. Gone were all ideas about battleaxes in horned helmets, like an overstuffed Viking - the possibilities of the world of opera were suddenly clearer.
From Tosca to Madame Butterfly, which seems positively subtle in comparison to the titanic efforts of the former, and then to a live broadcast from the Met of La Boheme, where I saw a hundred-strong chorus on stage and the backstage exertions of the technicians.
Once I've had my fill of Puccini, I'll be on to Verdi, and thence northwards, perhaps, via Austria to Germany. Having said that, I'm seeing Peter Grimes on Monday, but an English detour is excusable. After all, I'm now revelling in the world of opera, letting it take me where it will.