What comes to mind upon hearing the word “opera?” Is it puffy gowns, heavy perfume, boredom, and your grandmother’s pearls? Despite its reputation, opera is edgier and more relevant to our lives than many people assume.
Virginia Opera, a world-class company based in our backyard, aims to have the youngest opera audience in the country by 2025.
They’re undergoing a bold transformation with a new website, striking marketing materials, and an intriguing theme for the 2017-2018 season: “Love that is not madness is not love.”
In honor of the Hampton Roads launch of Prism, our young professionals group, here are ten reasons why millennials love opera and just don’t know it yet:
1. They already love the stories. Many of your favorite movies, books, and plays are also operas. Dig musical theatre? The opera Madame Butterfly inspired the musical Miss Saigon. Are you a Disney fanatic? The opera Rusalka is based on the same Hans Christian Andersen story as The Little Mermaid. Love discussing politics and history? The opera Nixon in China narrates Nixon’s 1972 historic visit to the People’s Republic of China. Adore literature? Many of your favorite books and plays have been turned into operas, like Moby Dick and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
2. They binge-watch Game of Thrones. If you can’t stop watching your favorite characters die every other episode, you’ll be intrigued by the violent, incestuous, and shocking plots of many famous operas. In the German opera Salome, the title character performs an erotic dance for her stepfather then kisses and proclaims her love for a severed head.
3. They live and dream large and crave new experiences. Opera is life in its grandest state with elaborate costumes, thrilling climaxes, and glass-shattering high notes. Today’s millennials often value new and exciting experiences, like going to the opera, over material possessions.
4. Sex. One French opera features a sung orgasm that makes even the boldest blush. Plus, one of the most famous operas of all time, La Boheme, inspired the controversial musical RENT.
5. Universal themes and music. Operatic music has stood the test of time and survived centuries of war and destruction to bring people together. It doesn’t matter if you speak Italian, German, French, or Russian, since most companies project subtitles over the stage.
6. Opera is a booze fest, not a snooze fest. A line from opera’s most famous drinking song in La Traviata translates to “Let us drink from the goblets of joy.” Almost every opera features a rambunctious party scene with wild attire, amorous dancing, and mid-high note sips from overflowing glasses.
7. Everyone loves a good antihero. There’s Walter White, Don Draper, and Voldemort, and then there’s Don Giovanni, a reckless and hedonistic womanizer who is literally dragged into the depths of hell at the end of one of Mozart’s most famous operas.
8. It’s inexpensive. Virginia Opera always has tickets under $30 available. And if you’re between 21 and 45, you can purchase a Prism ticket, which not only gets you into the opera, but also includes a party and two free drinks for $30.
9. It’s an impressive art form. Trained opera singers learn music theory and history, sight-reading, acting, dancing, diction, and multiple languages on top of their vocal studies. It takes approximately 80 hours of rehearsal to produce a show at Virginia Opera. One famous singer calls opera “the Olympics of singing.”
10. Opera speaks volumes. It’s a bridge between the past, present, and future. It magnifies our emotions by translating them into chilling, otherworldly sounds that capture fears, dreams, and desperations in ways words can’t.
Got your attention? Virginia Opera is launching a Hampton Roads chapter of their young professionals group, Prism. Tickets sell for $30 a pop and include admission to the opera, two free drinks, and a pre-show party with other young people.
There will be four Prism events in conjunction with the upcoming season:
- Friday, September 29: Cocktails at Commune and the opera Samson and Delilah
- Friday, November 10: Beer tasting at Smartmouth Brewing Company and the opera The Girl of the Golden West
- Sunday, February 13: Brunch at The Pagoda and the opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Friday, March 23: Wine tasting at Mermaid Winery and the opera Lucia di Lammermoor
Join me next season for the launch of Hampton Roads Prism! Single tickets go on sale August 21, 2017. You can purchase a subscription for all four events now for $100 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 757-897-6253.