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Subject: First turn-on to opera
From: Lea Frey <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Tue, 4 Mar 1997 10:29:41 -0800

text/plain (50 lines)

Hi, listers,

My obsession with opera began at least as early as 4th grade.  I recall
that, in addition to watching my father's devotion to opera as he sat
next to the radio in the dining room listening to the opera every
Saturday morning, I also had a public school music teacher who loved
it.  In our regular music class, we used to sing songs from a songbook
called the Twice Fifty-Five Songbook.  It was no doubt selected by that
teacher, and many of the songs were arias, duets, even choruses from
operas.  I can still even recall many of those words - in English - to
things such as O Evening Star and the Pilgrim's Chorus (Tannhaeuser),
Anvil Chorus (Trovatore),  March on, Liberty's Host, March On (Aida-
triumphal march),  Your Tiny Hands are Frozen (guess what?),  When I lay
me down to Sleep and  With your Feet you tap, tap, tap. ( from Hansel
and Gretel)  and so on.  Learning these songs as a child made it rather
wondrous when my father took me to operas after that and I recognized
these melodies, with a little thrill that I was so smart.

My first opera was FAUST, when I was about 9 or 10.  The experience was
for me  rather like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time.  I
felt I was in a magical place as I sat with my father in the Syria
Mosque in Pittsburgh.  The singing in French, the costumes and sets, the
familiar melodies I had heard on my father's old victrola, and what
seemed to me a wonderful story I could understand - with deep stuff like
good and evil, purity and a fallen woman, all combined to transport me
to another time and place - on wings of sublime music.  That was just
the first time in what would become like a fantasyland for me - any
opera house anywhere in the world.  No matter where the opera house, I
have a sense of being << HOME >>.

 By the time I was 18, I was already so hooked that, despite a
reputation of being the < Goody Two-Shoes > in my class, I stole out of
the dorm two nights in a row, climbed down the fire escape, and went to
see the Barber of Seville and La Traviata, movies made in Italy (1945),
climbing back up the fire escape to get back into the dorm afterwards.
Opera was becoming my << drug >> of sorts, and I loved it - all aspects
of it, and I was beginning to fall in love with voices,  tenor voices in

Throughout my lifetime, my  devotion to this artform has steadily
increased and deepened, becoming so much a part of my life, that I plan
vacations around the opera season.  It is to my husband's enormous
credit that he has has indulged me in this operatic nonsense for the
entire (almost) 48 years we have been married, despite his complete lack
of interest in it.  There is no explaining an obsession.  It just is.
This one has brought me nothing but joy for a lifetime, and I couldn't
give it up and still survive anymore than I could stop breathing.

Lea Frey
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