The First Time I… Write a post about the first time you did something. What is it? What was it like? What did you learn from it?
I’ve been listening to opera all afternoon, so I’ll tell you about the first time I saw an opera performance:
When I was a kid in Yonkers, New York (just north of the Bronx), my parents and I would go for walks on summer evenings. The air was cooling off, and there were plenty of places to buy Italian ices and maybe a burger. One such evening, when I was nine years old, we walked past Van Cortlandt Park and noticed that there were many more people than usual…and many were dressed up. Some brought picnic baskets and lawn chairs, and others simply sat on blankets.
My parents and I crossed the street to get cheeseburgers. As we waited for our order, my parents looked at the park again and noticed a stage with an orchestra. Behind the stage, a huge white banner with black letters read, “Metropolitan Opera in the Parks.” Instead of heading home after we finished eating, we went to the opera!
I was used to listening to all kinds of music at home, including classical and opera. I was a beginning violinist with dreams of the stage. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be attending an opera at the very park where I learned to ride my bike!
The opera was Puccini’s Tosca. In the park, the crickets were soon drowned out by the tuning orchestra. A chime sounded, signaling that the performance was about to begin…I got chills hearing “Bravo!” after the chime. I got even more chills as the beautiful music began, and the soprano appeared in a stunning gown. Soon, I had a crush on the bass baritone who played the bad guy, Scarpia. I watched the audience members cry as Mario died and the heroine, Tosca, jumped from the roof of the Castel Sant’Angelo.
“Bravo! Brava!” rang in my ears years after that performance, and I still love to listen to opera. I am grateful that my parents taught me to appreciate what’s beautiful, and I am so grateful that a huge company like the Met provides free performances in city parks. I never would have had the chance to see a live opera performance if these performances were not available.
I enjoyed remembering and writing about this special night. We’re sharing our stories at Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge…hope you’ll join us!