When I went to see Rigoletto by Verdi at the Zurich Opera House with my class, in June 2014, one of my most vivid memories is how much my feet hurt! Stepping into that century-old building and seeing my first opera, I had forced myself to wear ballerinas to compensate for my lack of fancy clothing!
Despite that, it was quite the magical experience. Tremendously talented singers, doing things with their voices I could not even imagine was possible, accompanied by a splendid orchestra, all surrounded by an architecturally beautiful building. We had talked about the entire plot and listened to the score in previous German lessons, but for those who hadn't, a screen with subtitles in both German and English hung over the stage. The show itself was sort of a modern adaptation of the original, with businessmen dressed in suits, and the only prop was a single white table in the middle of the stage.
Safe to say, this evening must sound quite out of the ordinary for some who might have the impression that opera is only for those who reject technology, or everything modern, and have too much money to waste. But, like every other form of media, opera has evolved with the times. Sure, it's not a cheap night for people to go to wearing skimpy clothing, but that doesn't mean that it's only for 60-plus-year-olds either. In fact, if you are willing to take the risk, the opera house sells relatively cheap tickets on the day of the shows (which vary from contemporary productions, to the classics we all know).
Opera may not be for everyone, but Canton Zurich encourages young people to see operas and plays so that they become aware that there is more to see and hear than just free downloads from the Internet. In fact, they support it so much that tickets for some of the best seats are reduced to CHF 50 and the cheapest ones end up being more reasonable than an ordinary movie ticket in Zurich city!
Pictures: Dominic Büttner, Opernhaus Zürich