A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO OPERA

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Who are the greats? And why is it such a fantastic art form? With less than two weeks to go until the Cliff Zammit Stevens Concert with MPO, we take a look at why opera is really special – and explain how you too can enjoy this magical musical style.

Anyone who has ever seen Pretty Woman will instantaneously remember the scene in which Julia Roberts and Richard Gere are in a booth at the theatre watching La Traviata. The moment in which Julia Roberts’s eyes well up is the moment her character finds herself; the moment the audience realises that she is more than just a pretty woman.

Opera, in fact, is a very emotive art form and, through melodic arias and duets, a story with a script that may not make much sense to many, comes to life on stage and touches something deep within our soul. It’s not so much the words that carry this power, but the distinctly sonorous voices that have made people like Pavarotti, Maria Callas, and our very own Joseph Calleja, famous.

One of the best ways to kick-start your operatic education is through one of Mozart’s iconic-yet-accessible operas, such as The Marriage of Figaro. This farce is one of the genre’s most well-known pieces, and it kicks off with a breathless overture that is a real delight to the senses. Opera, after all, is not always a happy-go-lucky art form, so it’s good to start with something light and fun.

However, if Mozart doesn’t do it for you, then why not check out Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio? This epic story full of heartbreak, prisons and cross-dressing took years to perfect and the music, unsurprisingly, is fabulously well composed.

Next on the list should be something by opera’s most famous name – Puccini. Everyone has heard of La Bohème, and its world shattering ending will take you on an emotionally charged roller coaster ride. Puccini’s most famous piece, however, remains Nessun Dorma from Turandot – a piece Pavarotti loved to sing, and which people still love to listen to. This opera has some pretty impressive arias, which will get you longing for more.

The trick, in reality, is to not just throw yourself at the mercy of a three- or four-hour opera if you’re not sure you’ll like it. Instead, find some pieces that you enjoy and really listen to them. Hear the key changes and experience the moods they were written to impart, and you will slowly but surely be taken into a whole new world full of divas, tenors, glamour, drama and heartbreak.

One place you could do this is at the Cliff Zammit Stevens Concert with MPO, where handpicked pieces from the works of Puccini, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Donizetti, Monteverdi and Rodgers & Hammerstein, among others, will be sung by Malta’s most promising up-and-coming tenor.

Cliff Zammit Stevens in Concert with MPO will take place on Friday 4th September at Pjazza Teatru Rjal in Valletta. Click here to find out more.

Tickets can be purchased from Ticketline. This concert is being supported by the Malta Tourism Authority, BOV, XFM, WriteMeAnything.com and Wembley Store.