I have been to several operas, and they all had one thing in common.
They were too long.
I may be branded a philistine for saying so, but in my experience, after the twelfth minute of someone pouring their heart out in the midst of their death throes, followed by another eight of their anguished lover expressing the grief of their bereavement, I get a little antsy. Don’t get me wrong, I do greatly enjoy opera music, but three hours of trying to follow a plot in a different language is a little laborious for me.
This is why I so greatly enjoyed SMU’s Opera Free For All, perhaps more than any other classical music performance I have ever attended. The SMU students presented four or five of the most exciting or humorous parts from several different operas, never letting the energy slacken. The vocals were on point, in some cases even astounding. As a vocalist, I hear over and over again from choral directors and private teachers, “You may be able to sing the notes and rhythms of a piece perfectly, but if you do not make what you are singing interesting, it doesn’t matter how technically correct you are, because you’re just boring.” In light of this golden advice, I think if the goal of music is to communicate with an audience, and not be boring, it is time for some people own up to the fact that, at some point, no matter the brilliance of a piece, it becomes boring to many JUST BECAUSE IT IS TOO LONG. Singing or playing music without expression or emotion is a crime in itself, but for a piece or productio to continue for an eternity, no matter how well-played it might be, has the same practical effect on most people as does music that is just plain boring.