Aida, An Opera

A cd cover for Aida. My in-laws took us to see this opera last weekend. I had seen it once before, in Rome, where I remember it as a spectacle. This time I watched a tragedy. If you don’t know the story, it’s a love triangle. A war hero of Egypt. an Egyptian princess, and a Ethopian slave whose father leads the troupes attacking Egypt. The hero betrays his country, is sentenced to death and he and his beloved die together as the princess mourns. Stuff of high emotion set to equally emotional music. The singers were terrific (and unmiked, unlike the current Broadway trend), and the orchestra live. Sets, costumes, the whole magilla, touched with magic.

If I could have had any career, I would have chosen to be an opera singer, not a ballet dancer. Gorgeous music coupled with drama and heartbreak; what’s not to love? My favorites have always been the Italian heavys where the lead soprano dies singing music of great beauty. Traviata, Turandot (ok, Liu dies, not the lead), La Boheme, Tosca (both leads expire). Yes, and Carmen. I like Mozart, and Richard Strauss, but Verdi and Puccini…aaah!

I have two opera stories. The first involves a break-in to my apartment when I was in college. Robbers hit me over the head with a coke bottle; I was sleeping but evidently I moved and they felt threatened. Luckily the Lewises have hard heads, but Mother insisted I go to the doctor. Before he could say anything, I blurted, “I have tickets to Of Mice and Men at the Central City Opera tonight. They were expensive, so don’t tell me I have to stay in bed.”

My second story took place in Palermo, Italy. February, and we were freezing in Rome, so we got on the overnight train to Sicily. When we woke, the train was traveling alongside the sea and there were poinsettas blooming everywhere. In the evening we got tickets for the opera – Nabucco – which I had never heard of but it’s Verdi, so it was bound to be good. We were in the nosebleed section, the only English speakers in the crowd. And when the choruses came on, everyone around us sang along as if it were a rock concert!

So thank you to my mother and father-in-law. You guys rock! And if any reader is unfamiliar with opera but would like to give it a try, I suggest you start with highlights of Traviata, preferably sung by Beverly Sills.


  1. mccardey says:

    This is not a comment about opera (though I love opera and I’ve been taking classical singing classes for decades) but about Things. Specifically, things left in empty houses.

    I thought of you, yesterday. The Beloved and I were in an ancient Roman town, and it started to rain. We took shelter by running to an enclave that was called “the place of the Jews” and found ourselves outside an old (maybe early 18th century – could be earlier) that we realised was abandoned and open to the weather. Our knowledge of the area suggests that the damage was done during WWII, during which there were expulsions of Jews under Vichy French Rule.

    We went inside – the roof was gone. The rain was pouring in on old furniture, cabinets with open drawers, hanging doors – worst of all the floor was inches deep in the pulp of letters and photographs. The tiles from the floor were gone – but all the old objects on the great mantelpiece were still there, and the bed-spreads and linen were still in the press. Cutlery, plates, glasses: tools: a sewing-kit full of old buttons and needles and threads.

    I did think of you. You’d have loved it.

    • Terri says:

      Oh, makes me so sad. All that history, lost. The pictures of ancestors, parties, birthdays, holidays, destoryed. All the love (or hate or disdain or fear) that was in the letters, gone. Also those who used to live there and who probably died in the terrible war. Things like this really weigh on me. Thanks so much for sharing! I hope you continue to have fun in France…

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