Former Emo Kid Takes on the Opera
By Robert Russell
Published in the Montgazette March 2019
It was the opening night of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the opera, and I really had no idea what to expect. Just the name alone, Shakespeare, is enough to give me a headache. It was hard to imagine how his play could be adapted into an opera, never mind what it would be like. Upon entering the Academy of the Arts, I walked through the crowds of men in black suits and fancy ties, and women in long ballroom gowns. I wondered for a moment if I should have taken out my nose ring.
I found my seat, top balcony facing the left side of the stage. The lights dimmed and the conductor of the orchestra took his stand. Amidst coughs and shuffles, the music began and the curtains were pulled. The set for the stage was a massive green bed with two pillows the size of actual beds. Two actors appeared on stage and began singing.
As the words flew from their mouths, I found myself entirely entranced. This was music at the highest degree of talent. The orchestra moved in waves like an ocean. The string section grew from low hums into loud, epic crests. The horn section blared in tandem with the crashing drums. It sounded like the soundtrack of an action movie. The singers’ notes crawled back and forth, up and down. It was impossible for me to understand how anyone could sing like that.
The story of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a complicated one; however, the opera made it much easier to understand. The music reflected the actions and storylines, which accentuated the humor of the show stand out even more. A flute would sound as Hermia entered a scene. A horn would blare when Puck ran across the stage. A triangle would ring when a new character became spellbound by Oberon’s magic flower. The music complemented the story in a beautiful way.
Before I knew it, the show was ending, and the actors were taking their bows. It was bittersweet. The night had passed before my eyes, and I was stunned at how much I had enjoyed it. It was incredible to witness art in such a way, art that has endured for hundreds of years. To be part of such an event was something else, too. I felt classy, having gone to an opera, the classiest of events. I left feeling cultured and proud that I had stepped outside of my comfort zone. I truly recommend that other young people go see an opera if given the chance. Young people should bear witness to such beauty and music. Plus, it is a fun excuse to dress up.
The Philadelphia organization CampusPhilly, in association with OpenArtsPhilly, sponsored the event and provided my free ticket. Students are encouraged to check out other events these groups sponsor. Check out their website: campusphilly.org