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It all begun when I, a little child at the time, found an old 1984 recording of the Teatro alla Scala of Verdi’s “I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata” with Ghena Dimitrova and Jose Carreras in the leading roles. It was love at first listen.
I can’t really put into words the thrilling sensation I experienced upon first hearing the magnificent chorus singing “Gerusalemme” and “O Signore dal tetto natio” or the excitement of those beautiful preludes. I used to imagine myself in front of a massive orchestra and choir, conducting them with passion, almost in a state of trance, I must say.
Hearing it inspired me to learn music myself and I was soon playing the clarinet. From that point on, music became a Narnia-like world to me, full of wonders and places to be conquered.
Perhaps, it’s important to add at this point that no one in my family had ever been to an opera, and most important of all, no one ever showed any interest in doing so (though I recently succeeded in taking my mother to a performance of Carmen). What I mean to say is that, to this day, I still can’t quite comprehend how on earth that CD ended up in my house – maybe it was part of God’s plan and was meant to cross my way, I don’t know!
I suppose you might say that, in my little town, I was always seen as the weirdo. While many would prefer to go to a football match, I liked to stay home listening to music and watching concerts on TV. And for a long time I felt I was alone and that no one would ever really comprehend me.
You must understand that there were no shops in town selling classical music and the only tune people were familiar with was the opening song for UEFA (which by the way is Handel’s Zadok the Priest). Andrea Bocelli’s recordings were the closest experience one could have to classical music/opera (two concepts that, to most minds, are synonymous). I remember my parents telling their friends “Well, he has very good taste in music – you know, classical music – but we can’t really follow him, you’ll have to give him the benefit of the doubt”.
Then came the arrival of the internet, which even reached our little town around Lisbon. And I found out that I wasn’t entirely alone – a bunch of weirdos like me were spread around the world and equally interested in promoting classical music. But that’s another story to tell and time is short.
This entire post is really just to introduce myself and the content of my future posts: Opera! Opera! Opera! (And how the OAE plays it like no one else!). For sure not all orchestras are the same and neither are all ideas about opera!
Daniel C. Antao da Silva