Birth opera

Birth opera

The moment of this meme has passed, perhaps, but I’m participating just the same. Except that apparently September 22nd, 1984 was not a bountiful day, opera-wise. Tried the Met archive — nothing. The Salzburg Festival had shut up shop by then too. The San Francisco Opera was my last hope and, thankfully, it delivers.

With this:


Which is not too shabby, I suppose, though I’m not sure it suggests anything particularly significant regarding my operatic self. All I know of Ernani is "Ernani, Ernani involami". But at least it’s a pretty illustrious kind of cast; and was supposed to be even more so — a note on the cast page indicates that Nunzio Todisco was a late replacement for Luciano Pavarotti. There’s a problem, however. I was not born in San Francisco. I was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, and when it was September the 22nd there, it was still September 21st in San Francisco. So my real birth opera is in fact:


Now this is a little more meaningful. Frederica von Stade was among the first opera singers I’d ever heard of, on account of her outstanding collaboration with Garrison Keillor on Songs of the Cat. And Amina’s "Ah, non credea mirarti" was one of the few arias I became familiar with before I was an opera fanatic — Ana James sang it at the 2002 Lexus Song Quest finals, and I liked it enough to download the sheet music and play it badly on the piano, a change from my usual diet of easy classics and the Great American Songbook. Both Frederica and Samuel Ramey appear on the Solti Figaro which was my introduction both to Figaro and to the concept of familiarising oneself with an opera. These days, of course, I run a mile from Samuel Ramey and his world’s widest wobble. And Dennis O’Neill is someone I’ve seen live a couple of times recently, as part of a gala concert and then as Luigi in Il Tabarro. He also sings Otello for OA this year, which I confess I have difficulty visualising, but no doubt he’ll sound pretty good.

So, all in all, not a bad birth opera. I’d have preferred a Rosenkavalier or an Alcina, perhaps. But at least it wasn’t La bohème.


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