One of my favorite events each summer is Portland's Festa Italiana. It has become a tradition that my mom and I go to the opera night in Pioneer Square (or Piazza Italia, as the organizers insist on calling Portland's living room for the duration of the festival). Whatever you call it, the prospect of a warm summer evening and a serenade is always irresistable. There is nothing like hearing lovely music and enjoying good food as the sun goes down.
The thing that made this year's festival extra special is that we knew two of the singers performing. Whenever I hear either of them sing, I find myself amazed at the fact that these are the same people I've barbequed with at Oaks Park and shared jokes with at various celebrations. As people, they are so normal and down to earth, but their art is transcendent, beyond the realm of us humble, small humans. Getting to hear them tonight in their professional milieu on such a lovely, warm evening was a real treat.
Really, even if I hadn't known two of the five singers performing, I would have loved it. They sang many of my favorite pieces, opening with Verdi's Brindisi from La Traviata and continuing on to do a bit of Mozart (La ci darem la mano from Don Giovanni and Sull'aria from Le Nozze di Figaro), as well as a number of pieces I'd never heard before, but loved and will definitely try to revisit.
All of this has the effect of making me think I could be ready to move into an autumnal opera phase. Somehow opera is a good writing soundtrack on rainy, fall days (not to mention that some of the love songs are delightful to fall asleep to as one fantasizes about loves of ones own). Besides, I haven't been in a good opera phase in quite some time and could stand to fill in some of my Bildungslücken. My knowledge is definitely very heavily Mozart and Verdi centered with a little Bizet and isolated pieces from other composers thrown in. Really, the more I think of it, the more I believe an opera phase might be just the right thing for me. Besides, it might even inspire me to pick up my abandoned mystery, which features, of all things a rather nasty and spoiled operatic tenor (unless he decides he would rather be a baritone, which could easily happen).
For now, however, I think I will just bask in the memory of a lovely night filled with a setting sun, a warm breeze, and music that makes me feel as though my soul could float all the way to heaven just listening to it.