I want to admit to being a failure, dear reader; not a total failure but a failure nonetheless.
I have tried to like opera and I have failed - spectacularly.
Because, in my opinion, opera is rubbish.
There – I’ve said it.
A few years ago, my workplace organised an evening at the opera.
“Shall we go?” said Mrs PM.
“Absolutely not,” I replied. “Opera is rubbish!”
“How do you know? You’ve never been,” she replied. “Go on – you might like it.”
Deep down in my brain somewhere there is a rebellious troll that sometimes catches me unawares. Now was one such occasion:
“OK – I’ll give it a go,” said the troll, taking over my brain for a brief second.
Before I knew it, the troll was laughing as I held in my hand two tickets to see Carmen at the Manchester Palace Theatre.
“What have I done?” I yelled.
“Hee Hee Hee,” sniggered the troll, returning back to his little cave in my mind, satisfied at having stitched me up again.
Nevertheless, I decided against selling the tickets. I opted to try to broaden my horizons and embrace something that goes against my taste – I was willing to give opera a chance by seeing arguably the most famous opera of them all.
I hated every tedious second of it.
And I hated one thing more than anything else – the singing.
I have experienced opera in the past on TV, on radio and, bizarrely, on my mp3 player.
I know what you’re thinking:
“You are a hypocrite! How come you have opera on your mp3 player?”
I can answer that. I have several classical CDs, some of which are compilations. Regrettably, I am too lazy to filter out the opera and one or two other dreadful songs have somehow found their way onto my music machine. There is some utter bilge on that device and by far and away the worst of that bilge is the opera.
I appreciate that there may be some people out there who genuinely love opera and marvel at its apparent audible beauty and can't understand why I have opera in my sights, ready to squeeze the trigger. I would be tempted, dear reader, if I had the power, to remove opera from the planet. Sadly, I don't have that power.
I actually like classical music – just so long as opera singers don’t destroy it with their monstrous vocal sledgehammers.
There may be those of you out there who want to scream:
“You like heavy metal; how can you possibly write bad things about opera singers when there are far worse heavy metal vocalists out there?”
The truth is I like heavy metal and rock music as long as I can understand the lyrics and the vocalists aren’t grunting and roaring; some heavy metal bands are just dreadful and the vocalists (if you can call them that) don’t deserve be called such.
I don't like that style of rock music.
I much prefer my vocalists to have good powerful voices. You might argue that opera singers have good powerful voices too – the truth is that some of them do. However, most of them, the women in particular, have voices that make my brain shriek in anguish.
Take this, for example:
I love Freddy Mercury’s voice but Montserrat Caballé’s voice shreds my brain like a cheese grater ripping through cheddar.
Am I alone or am I a heathen?
A pseudo-intellectual might say that I’m a heathen and quote Aristotle at me but to be honest, I would genuinely like a true opera buff to tell me what is so fascinating about opera.
Why ruin a perfectly good piece of classical music with unintelligible, over-rated and ostentatious vocals from somebody who could shatter glass with a high note?
When the three tenors (Domingo, Carreras and Pavarotti) sang Nessun Dorma I heard that people were crying in ecstasy.
I found it tedious. I wouldn’t have paid three tenners to see it.
Am I weird?
Just because it is classical and sung by three operatic maestros, is there any reason why I should lie and say “very moving"?
When people tell me that rock music is awful by default, I get really annoyed. To me, a progressive rock masterpiece is far better than an opera but because it contains guitars, keyboards and a rock singer it doesn’t fit the pseudo-intellectual vision of musical culture.
I appreciate that people like opera but I don’t. And that doesn’t make me a heathen, a cultural Philistine or any less intellectual than somebody who thinks Carmen is a masterpiece.
I have to say that although I have been pretty scathing about opera, I do love classical music.
Here is my favourite ever classical piece:
Mars - The Bringer of War from Holst’s The Planets is a piece of classical music that enthralls me, bringing tears of joy to my eyes every time I hear it. I would love to resurrect my trombone and be part of the orchestra to play it.
And there are lots more classical pieces that have the same effect on me.
Opera would ruin such music.
What about you, dear reader? Do you think I’m a Philistine? Or a heathen?
I would be particularly interested to hear from opera lovers. I am always willing to discuss such things – or gain an insight into other people’s views.
At the end of the day it is just a question of taste; and I believe I have excellent taste – or maybe not.