Expanding My Horizons: Things I Learned About Opera by Attending My First Opera

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I’ve seen a lot of musicals.  I’ve seen even more plays.  But there are other genres of stage shows that I’ve yet to tackle.  I can now cross Opera off of that list.

I recently saw THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.  I chose this one as my first because director Vince DeGeorge primarily works in the musical theatre department; I’ve enjoyed his work every time and thought it would be a good, safe choice.  Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Just like in musical theatre, story must be central.  VIXEN is based on a Czech comic strip and tells the story of a hunter who captures a vixen and brings her home.  The vixen causes trouble and escapes back into the wild where she falls in love, has a lot of babies, and is ultimately murdered.  It’s tragic, but has some lighter moments.  DeGeorge drew out the story of the piece through his staging and made all the other elements support the story . . . just like he does with musicals.  He’s brilliant.
  • Not all opera singers are the same.  That seems obvious, I know, but I sorta thought that perhaps everyone’s voice and performance would sound alike to my untrained ear.  Indeed, I had favorites in the show and could identify better with some of the performers than others.
  • English translation might not be the best.  This piece was translated into English and I wonder if the musicality is better in its native language.  Unlike my favorite musicals, I never found a connection to the songs in this opera.  They all sounded similar and didn’t have any sort of hook.  I wonder if I would have experienced something different were I to hear it as it was written?
  • CCM is synonymous with EXCELLENCE.  While I’m not sure I’ll be lining up at the box office for another opera soon, I did appreciate and marvel at the fantastic set, costumes, and professionalism of the production.  CCM’s technical artists are some of the best in the world and THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN, like all the productions I’ve seen on campus, spotlighted the excellence we expect from CCM.

More information about CCM Opera and its upcoming productions and program can be found here.