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Opera used to be a central part of European pop culture, Pavarotti was as big a pop star as they come. But still, it’s now the quintessential art-form of the wealthy and snobbish. What gives?
Guest Sean Spyres from Springfield Regional Opera joins his sister Erica along with Mark and Brian to discuss opera’s place in culture (including its film appearances), how it’s different from music theater, the challenges it faces and how it might become more relevant.
- “Expecting Rain: Opera as Popular Culture” by John Storey
- “14 Artists Who Are Transforming The Future Of Opera” by Priscilla Frank
- “As Hip as Elvis: Caruso the Pop Idol” by John Potter
- “Emotions Unveiled: Romance at the Opera in Moonstruck (1987), Pretty Woman (1990) and Little Women (1994)” by Kordula Knaus
Watch the Shawshank Redemption opera scene or perhaps the Pretty Woman scene. What Is pop opera? Here’s Ranker’s list of artists. Paul Potts sings that famous song on Britain’s Got Talent. Plus, check out albums from brother Michael Spyres. Yes, you can hear an opera-singer sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” but you probably shouldn’t.
This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network and is curated by openculture.com.
Ed Walker says
I was introduced to opera at Indiana University by my future wife; we saw most of the operas put on by the School of Music. We eventually moved to Nashville. I was not a trained singer, but eventually I joined the chorus for a production of Il Trovatore. Eventually I took voice lessons and learned how to sing well enough to remain with the group, even as better trained men became available. I sang for in 50 productions] before my voice gave out. I also joined the Board and served a couple of terms.
With that background, I offer a these observations.
1. Chorus singing is intensely great. There is nothing better than producing a wall of sound with 40 of your friends.
2. Almost any live production is better than anything on the TV or a record, and even better than the Met HD Broadcasts.
3. We live in Chicago, and attend every production of Chicago Opera Theater, which produces amazing new works like The Scarlet Ibis, Moby Dick, and Death and the Powers, as well as stunning versions of older operas.
4. The problem of increasing audiences is never-ending in classical music. One good way is to produce small versions of bigger works for grade school kids who haven’t learned that opera is for old fuddy-duddies like us. We take our granddaughter to those and other classical productions.
5. Not everything has to be pop. At the dance school my daughter attended, there was a poster with a kid doing one of the basic positions with the logo:
Nothing Easy Proves How Good You Are.