One Enchanted Evening

My first encounter with opera was at the Santa Fe Opera in early August. I'm so glad I held out for such an enchanting evening and experience.

The setting was absolutely spectacular. A summer sky over the desert brought some rain before the performance. We watched the clouds bring much needed rain to other locales. And nature gave us a splendid light show as we watched lightening strikes. Even during the performance, flashes of lightening in the distance illuminated the periphery, enhancing the setting.

The Opera House itself compliments the landscape. Its design draws parallels to the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi people who inhabited the lands long ago.

The stage and set were simple, but elegant. The singers, with passion in their voice and body language, and the orchestra all told the story. An elaborate set would have been a distraction to both the performance and the natural beauty of the desert. The elegant simplicity enhanced it.

The music was melodious. My friend, Nancy, was right. You can't go wrong with the Italian composers. The orchestra captured the passion of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata. I'd read the story behind the opera beforehand so I'd be able to follow. A big tip of the hat to technology – built into the seat backs for the benefit of the person sitting behind is a small screen that translates from Italian into either English or Spanish so you could follow the story. Yes, like at the symphony I could have been engrossed in the music alone, but this was so much more engaging.

Whenever I go to a live performance, I have to take it all in, the sights and sounds that are all around. Months earlier I was in Carnegie Hall to see and hear the Boston Symphony. What a beautiful concert hall. I was drawn in by the surroundings as much as by the musicians. I was fascinated watching them and listening to the music they were making. It was the sum of all the parts that made it a great experience. However, the Santa Fe Opera experience gets an A++.

My point: Observe what's around. Be aware of who's contributing and understand what they are contributing. Learn to listen to everyone who's making a contribution. Listen with your ears, but look for the simple, subtle details of body language. Challenge yourself to use all of your senses, to take it all in.

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