It must be admitted that the audience approaches the world of opera feeling uneasy and a bit scared, for a number of reasons which could be briefly expressed as follows:
You can’t understand the words…
It’s so slow…
I don’t understand it…
It’s a different world…
All the stories finish in disaster…
The message of music, especially opera, is really up to date and anyone can enjoy it; it can take on much deeper and more satisfying meanings than emerge from today’s manner of enjoying it. So let’s look at the objections above, one by one:
- In some cases the way the singers use their voices may make them hard to understand, but great composers given excellent performance are absolutely enjoyable, as Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti show with their works.
- We need to recover our taste for “slowness”: the pleasure of savouring what is lovely and being immersed in a world of grace and harmony.
- Beauty is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to achieve. Music speaks first and foremost to the heart, but a heart with two ears that are ready to be guided a little. As the fox in The Little Prince (almost) says: “you hear well only with your heart”.
- The stories presented are related to what happens again and again in human history: the same thing, but with infinite variations. Behind the apparent simplicity of tales with happy endings are concealed psychological introspections, social denunciations, cultural revolutions, which are not rarely to be discovered in our own times: for example, the female characters, often of noble birth and much cleverer than the men!
- Are you unconvinced? Go on, try… what we say here can’t possibly include all the titles that lie outside this stereotype – from undiluted comedy, to elegant irony; from unbridled imagination to mystery and magic.
How do we deal with this approach?
We invite anyone interested to start with a visit “behind the scenes”.
The audience will be guided by one of the characters in the opera on a visit to the set which seems simple, but isn’t. Various kinds of stories are part of every production, from simple anecdotes to the difficulties we have had to face.
The various characters accompany the visitors – children included – in an hour spent with the costume department, the sets, the musical instruments, the chorus – the world of theatre with its clichés, its conventions and its “inventions”. This is Musical Theatre seen from a special standpoint: nothing grand, but full of surprises.
We pay special attention to children: they are given a card on which to write some thoughts prompted by seeing the show and during the visit these will be referred to. This approach makes opera easier to understand and encourages the parents to get involved.
After the performance, the cards will be collected and our young spectators will each be given a simple souvenire-gadget, by one of the characters who have just performed.