Opera Daily 🎶 — When a friend takes the stage (or the field)
This week's Opera Daily features how "knowing" the performers enhances our experience in arts and sports
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Recently I had the chance to attend a performance of Puccini's Madama Butterfly in Sarasota, where my friend Heather Johnson was singing the role of Suzuki.
The term '“friend” can often be used loosely to describe our connection with performers and athletes we don't know personally but feel a particular affinity for. In this instance though, I have the unique experience of knowing Heather personally, which made the performance all the more special.
This experience led me to reflect on the ways in which having a personal connection, whether real or perceived, with the performers can significantly impact our enjoyment of arts and sports.
The Power of Personal Connections
When we feel connected to someone performing on stage or playing on the field, we become more invested in their success and the outcome of the event. This personal connection allows us to experience their triumphs and struggles in a more profound way, as we can empathize with their emotions and efforts.
In the case of my friend Heather’s performance, my connection with her gave me an insider’s perspective on the dedication, passion, and hard work that went into her preparation for the role. This insight made me appreciate the performance on a deeper level, as I could see the fruits of her labor come to life on stage.
Similarly, many sports fans feel a strong connection to their favorite athletes. For me, it’s someone like Serena Williams who generously shares her life experiences with the world. While I don’t know her personally, I feel a sense of friendship with her due to the glimpses of her life that she shares. This connection made watching her compete in her last US Open more thrilling and meaningful, as I rooted for her not only as an athlete but also as someone I’ve come to know and admire.
Am I the only one that feels this way? Would love to hear from you!
As we continue exploring the power of personal connections and friendship, let’s listen to the “Flower Duet” between Cio-Cio-San and Suzuki from Madama Butterfly. It’s glorious.
🎧 Listen here (3 minute listen): Renata Tebaldi as Cio-Cio-San and Fiorenza Cossotto as Suzuki in the duet “Scuoti quella fronda di ciliegio... Or vieni ad adornar” (Flower Duet) from Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Conductor Tullio Serafin, Recorded in Rome, 1958
What’s happening in the duet?
Cio-Cio-San has been waiting patiently for Pinkerton’s return after telling her, “Oh, Butterfly, my little wife, I shall return with the roses, when the earth is full of joy when the robin makes his nest.” Three years have passed, but unfortunately, no Pinkerton. Cio-Cio-San has refused the wealthy Prince Yamadori's marriage proposal, been warned by Sharpless and the US Consul that he will never return, yet she still believes he will return to her.
At this moment in the opera, there is a canon in the harbor signaling the arrival of a ship. Cio-Cio-San and Suzuki see that it is Pinkerton’s ship. Cio-Cio-San tells Suzuki to collect all the flowers from the garden and shower them throughout the house to make it “all Spring”. They laugh and enjoy this moment. Unfortunately, it will be the last happy moment for both of them.
Thank you for reading (and listening), and feel free to reply with feedback or leave a comment.
Please have a wonderful week,
PS. If you missed last week’s selection, we featured an absolute legend, the one and only Romanian soprano, Virginia Zeani.
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In the early 1970s I would attend performances at NYCO several nights a week. After I would often have late night supper at the Monks inn on 63rd. Dominic Cossa and Richard Fredricks would dine there also and welcomed me at their table. Over the years We would discuss the performance and share personal feelings. I followed their careers feeling the same personal involvement that you so clearly expressed.
I could not agree more! Especially when any celebrity shares my own feelings about things. I always enjoy their performances in an enhanced way. I thinks it is a human desire to “share” with others. A connection is there even though I will never meet them in life. 🙂