Ah, the opera. The orchestra. The performers. The after-party. My wife and I went to the Opera Carolina production of “Carmen” on opening night a few weeks ago. The tickets were complementary, and we’re grateful as always for Opera Carolina’s generosity.
One thing I noticed immediately was the set. Or the lack thereof. There weren’t a lot stage pieces, so the audience has to open their minds and imagine the settings each of the acts take place in. I know some productions where the story and the principals’ performances are background for the settings on stage, but this isn’t one of them. Here, the story and the principals are the focal point.
I must say I never saw Carl Tanner perform before, but I walked away with a strong impression of him after his performance as Don Jose. Well-acted and expertly performed musically, it’s easy to see why he’s a highly regarded tenor. Kristin Chavez did a masterful job in the lead role of Carmen, and the way she and Carl worked together on stage was great to watch.
The opera may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it is something to be experienced. In a world in which “American Idol” dominates, it’s nice to go to a place where people actually play musical instruments, and you can watch people who have honed their craft through the years by hard work and studying under people more accomplished than themselves. This is the way musical performances used to be done: by people who all had their own talents, but worked together in a cohesive way to put on a performance.
Nowadays, with sampling, high tech dubbing and digital editing, I can’t help but think we’re losing something more than an appreciation of music and the art of the live performance. We’re losing a bit of us. What it means to be human. What it means to take pride/find joy in the work we do. Now, it’s all a popularity contest that people can call in to vote on. Or even text from their phone.
And that’s a shame.