We’re all about arts, culture, and new experiences here at For the Love of Awesome. Over the past couple of years, I’ve started seeing opera at the beautiful new Four Seasons Opera House in Toronto, but rarely without the company of my good friend Alia (@aliasaurusrex). Beyond being the best company, she’s also an opera singer, lawyer, and opera agent. Alia patiently explains the story lines, norms and etiquette of the opera to me each time we go so that I don’t feel out of place. She’s written a witty & informative piece to pass on this information so that Ye Need Not Be Afraid of the Opera!
You’re wearing your nicest pair of skinny jeans, your thickest and most ironic glasses, and you just spilled out of the newest head-to-tail pop up restaurant on West Queen West, eager to keep the good times rolling with some live music. Both the Phoenix and Lee’s Palace are hosting acts that you love, and there’s a storied DJ setting up shop for the night at Mod Club. But wait; just wait one second there – might you also consider… the opera?
Happily, you don’t need to be sporting a ball gown or tuxedo, since nowadays, your skinny jeans will take you from offal to opera (that’s right, I just did that). You also don’t need to be fluent in any of the four most common opera languages (English, French, German, Italian) to enjoy it either. Like insulin and stem cell science, Canadians also invented something magical called “surtitles”, which are the translated lyrics that slide across a screen above the stage so that we know what everyone is saying, even when the opera is in English (we owe that one to former Canadian Opera Company General Director, Lotfi Mansouri. But I digress.)
Opera season is presently in full swing across Canada and the rest of the world – travel to any major city between January and May and you will find several options for a night out. In Toronto, we have larger houses like the Canadian Opera Company (aka the COC, the largest in Canada), Opera Atelier (stylized with an emphasis on dance), as well as smaller avant-garde companies such as Tapestry New Opera, Against the Grain Theatre and OperaFive. The best part is, they are all excellent, and they all offer something different.
What is the opera, anyways?