Friday, June 25, 2021

I admire you if you have the patience for poetry and opera

Some of my interests are of the kind that appeal only to a niche audience, to put it kindly.

Classical music is one of those. I will listen to an hour-long Mahler symphony and not even realize time has passed. I'll rip through a Beethoven string quartet while out running and be sad when it's finished.

So it's not like I don't have the attention span to appreciate fine art.

But even as an English major, I never could really get into poetry. And even as a fan of classical music, I still don't find myself getting along very well with opera.

Case in point: I've been reading the Lord of the Rings books lately, starting with "The Hobbit" and (as of this writing) currently nearly the conclusion of "The Fellowship of the Ring." These are long, dense novels, and I enjoy every minute of them.

Except when Tolkien goes off and throws a four-page poem in there. Then my eyes glaze over. I need the narrative to advance, not some navel-gazing verse extravaganza written long ago by an elf lord named Zipfindel or whatever.

As for opera, I have a few of the classics on CD, including "Carmen" and "Otello." And I try. I really try. But so far, nothing I've listened to grabs me the way Bach and Debussy do.

I listen to operas because, as someone who wants to do his small part to keep the classics alive in this day and age, I feel duty-bound to get through them.

I realize it's probably a matter of not truly understanding these two art forms and/or simply not having found the right poem or the right opera.

If anyone wants to be my mentor and throw out some "Beginner's Guide to..." suggestions on either medium, they will be most gratefully received.

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