I’ve long wished that opera spoke to me on more than a purely appreciative, intellectual level. I wish I could say, like Glen Nelson, that
for me opera is serious business. I have always responded to it viscerally.
Of course, he has an advantage, having grown up with opera, whereas I have to learn opera. And the best way would be to attend operas. Which I can do locally, but holy smokes opera is expensive. If opera dies, this will be the reason: that the uninitiated have to spend soooo much money to become initiated. So I suppose the nouveu riche looking for cultural acceptance will join the club, but the poor will stick to novels and Saturday-morning cartoons.
Anyway, speaking of Glen Nelson, he has brought his love of opera and Mormon arts together in the latest greatest project of Mormon Artists Group, Mormons at the Met.
During the 2011-2012 season at the Metropolitan Opera, six LDS singers were engaged to perform principal roles. This is an unparallelled, historic achievement in our culture. Author Glen Nelson follows the performances to provide an intimate chronicle of a year at the opera house. This 450-page book with illustrations by Annie Poon aims to answer a straightforward question: what is it like to be a Mormon in the seats of the Metropolitan audience for a season?
Even with my ambivalent connection to opera, this project feels designed for me. I admire Glen mightily, love Annie Poon‘s cartoony work, and I’m always delighted when successful Mormon artists are highlighted.
Asking Annie to illustrated Mormons at the Met was a sly move on Glen’s part. Opera can be so daunting and highbrow and unwelcoming that having Annie’s utterly accessible and fun and charming and innocent drawings as your in should make any newbie feel more comfortable. They may not shell out the cash for M@M, but if a friends shares it with them, why not? This looks fun!
And although I’ve hardly read the book, I’ve no doubt Glen is a personable and welcoming host. And even if you think opera sounds like hell, mightn’t the journey still be worth it with the proper Virgil?
So no, I haven’t read the book or listened to the music, but I still think this is a project worth checking out.