Deciphering opera

Edmonton Opera Blog

Deciphering opera

Inspired by the 30-Day Opera Challenge done by Austin Lyric Opera, the staff at the Edmonton Opera have taken on their own 30-day challenge. Each week, we'll post answers from staff members about various aspects of opera, whether it's their favourite aria, an opera house they'd like to visit or their opinion on a genre. We welcome comments about your own take on the question, either on the blog or via social media.

Name an opera that is confusing, and explain why it was so hard to understand.

Sandra Gajic, CEO:  I'm no help in this case ... I don't find opera confusing, ever. 

Amanda MacRae, education and community outreach coordinator: For me it really depends on the synopsis. Sometimes they are dry and confusing to read, which can make for a confusing opera. Multiple love interests and relationships can also make it hard to follow.

Catherine Szabo, communications coordinator: Maybe it's because of my role here, but the more I work through an opera — compiling the playbill, writing copy about it, tweeting links about it — the less confused I am by even the most confusing operas. But the first thing I always do is draw character maps (usually four or five times until I have all the interactions right) when I'm reading the synopsis for the first time. For an opera like Tales of Hoffmann, where there are plenty of characters with nearly unpronounceable names, that's the best (and safest) place for me to start!


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