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Thread: How does one overcome aversion for vocal classical music?

          
   
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  1. #1
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    How does one overcome aversion for vocal classical music?

    Here is the dilemma. I sort of, kind of, like opera, as you well know.

    I have a son. He is twenty.

    He is not at all the kind of alienated youth who doesn't value art. Intelligent guy, who is in tune with visual arts and architecture, and designed our portal, our banner, and our Wordpress pages (they are beautiful). He likes good cinema (foreign, independent) and good literature (has read many of the classics), and speaks four languages, including fluent Italian. He likes sculpture and modern art.

    And he's also a normal kid who is a good student, plays sports, goes out with girls, and likes the kind of music of his generation. Not nerdy at all - actually, very handsome and athletic, but I digress - OK, yes, I love him and I'm proud of him, dammit, can't a father rant a little bit about his great kid?

    Well, I'd love to introduce him to opera, which I hope would appeal to his Italian roots (we're an Italian-American family). So far, to no avail. He claims that he hates it. He's got only one experience with opera: went with his school class to Madama Butterfly in a city near his college on a school assignment, and HATED it with a passion. He said it's a bunch of constipated people screaming in weird high-pitched voices.

    You can all imagine how dismayed I was to hear this.

    So here he is back home for spring break, studying for a school assignment in his Mac, and listening to a playlist in the background. Great classical music, some violin sonatas.

    Then I get all excited. OK, the cool kid who is into contemporary rock or whatever they call that stuff they listen to, is listening today to classical! Maybe there is hope! I'm silently eating my omelet next to him, and enjoying the music too.

    Then in the playlist an operatic aria comes up. I lighten up, and say, "oh, nice!!!"

    He says: "Oops! That's an accident! How did this get into my playlist???" and proceeds to skip it, and goes back to instrumental.

    I say to him, "come on, son, that *was* beautiful!"

    He says, "Dad, I don't like the voices! They're distracting, and drive me crazy."



    OK, how do I change this? Please, please, how do I get him to love opera?

    All right, I know what you guys will say. "No, Alma, stop being controlling! Respect your son's musical taste! He's his own person, you can't try to impose on him *your* musical taste. The more you try to do it, the more he'll rebel!"

    I know, I know. But here is the thing. I'm serious, in spite of all the smileys above. I'm asking for real advice here, expert advice.

    I want to design a vocal music playlist that would slowly take someone from instrumental classical music onto vocal classical music. Not opera, I know I can't go there yet with my son.

    But I'd like to at least overcome this aversion for the operatic voice, starting slowly, with some beautiful cantata, or madrigal, I don't know, something that makes of the voice a very pleasing and soft instrument. And then, I need a progression... something that slowly introduces some vocal variation... and then something more adventurous but still casual and melodious, sort of violin-like quality (since he likes that) like, for instance, the Bachianas Brasileiras from Villa-Lobos... (well, maybe, minus the middle section, between 3'20" and 5' here

    [Link to video deleted by Admin - video no longer available]

    then very slowly, something maybe for the male voice first, since often those who dislike operatic voices have more problem with sopranos than with bass-baritones. I remember that the one thing I showed him and he didn't immediately hated, was Oh du mein holder Abendstern.



    So, ideally, the very first one should be a piece that starts instrumental, and then has just a bit of voice. Then another one with more voice... and so on and so forth.

    OK, who can help me? Schigolch? itwyltmt? Superhorn? Soave_Fanciulla? Others?

    If we get an efficient playlist, this could be saved for future use in case of other "conversions."
    Last edited by Ann Lander (sospiro); January 14th, 2018 at 02:24 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #2
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    I'm wondering whether something like this, which is crossover with some classically trained voices, (Philippe Jaroussky) my be a way in.



    Or this

    Natalie

  3. #3
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    It's probably a youthful perception that classical vocal music are for old farty geezers, and it ain't cool for twenty year olds. Introduce Alamviva Junior to something like Carmen, something "easy". Work up from there.

  4. #4
    Banned Top Contributor Member
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    Prepare a situation when he will think that you think he's not at home and then make him hear your prepared conversation with someone in which you will say, replacing X and Y with proper names:

    Yea, there thou makest me sad, and makest me sin
    In envy that my friend
    Should be the father to so opera loving son,—
    A son who can humm all leitmotifs;
    Amongst a grove, the very straightest plant;
    Who is sweet Fortune's minion and her pride:
    Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him,
    See hatred for opera stain the brow
    Of my young X. O, that it could be proved
    That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
    In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,
    And call'd mine X, his Y!
    Then would I have his Y, and he mine:
    But let him from my thoughts. What think you, coz,
    Of this young geezer's pride? the Verdi CDs,
    Which he in this adventure hath collected,
    To his own use he keeps; and sends me word,
    I shall have none but Carreras/Ricciarelli Trovatore.

  5. #5
    Opera Lively's Journalist Involved Member Elektra's Avatar
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    OK, he's 20. And a guy! Something in this direction





    Or maybe something modern if he likes modern art?

  6. #6
    Schigolch
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    The old trick of 140 hasn't failed me yet...



    This is about as beautiful music as can be listened here, down on Earth. Both instrumental and vocal.

    Then I will try some French art songs (especially if French is one of those four languages). My favourite for starters are Reynaldo Hahn's. Again, they are wonderful stuff, can appeal to most people, and only need a short attention span.



    And finally, more modern stuff. Lutoslawaski's Chantefleurs et Chantefables, a small collection of songs that it takes some 20 minutes to complete:




    Opera and the operatic voice is for many people living today an acquired taste. Yes, it could be acquired at 20 years old, or at 50, but for most guys it won't be love at first sight.

  7. #7
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Great, thank you all. Keep it coming, if someone else wants to contribute.
    By the way, Schigolch, yes, one of the four is French. Good idea.
    @Elektra - I think that Patricia Petibon is yummy, and so is Elina, but Elina is kind of over-the-top in that clip, I wonder who talked the poor girl into doing that!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  8. #8
    Senior Member Involved Member brianwalker's Avatar
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    Does he like non-vocal classical music?

  9. #9
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    Hi all,
    I realize this is an old thread, but something in your story caught my attention. I've pondered over the years how different people respond to music. I've decided there are three basic types of people out there; those whom music bounces off of; they're the ones who could really careless about music; it mean very little if not nothing to them, next are those who music seem to go through without a ruffle; they're the ones who study to music, or have it playing in the back ground while doing other jobs, and don't really pay much attention to it. They may be able to appreciate it to some degree (with their head; very little with their heart), when it's placed in front of their noses, and there's nothing else to distract them from it, but it isn't necessary for their soul. For the third group, music doesn't just pass through them, it reverberates inside them, and sets up a harmonious hum in their soul; they can't imagine life without it (head and heart!). This type doesn't treat it as background noise; on the contrary, if it's playing they can't help but listen to it, becoming distracted from all other jobs they are doing. As you can guess, I'm in the third group, and I suspect most here are as well. I've spent most of my life around type twos, alas, and gave up along time ago trying to instill classical music (especially opera) appreciation (let alone love), in them. It just lead to disappointment and wasted energy on my part.

  10. #10
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Forgive me for addressing a long ago thread, but it hits on a subject that fascinates me (see my posting of 17 January under "Upsetting Trends Secondary to Economic Crisis" within General Operatic Talk).

    I probably resemble your son in my music tastes when I was his age. Opera kind of got me by chance - after having been dragged to a performance of "Tales of Hoffmann" that, for some reason still unknown to me, suddenly struck me as wonderful - I remember walking out of the theater thinking "Ok, so that is what opera is all about". How? Why? I have no idea. That was 40 years ago.

    Opera is something of an unnatural art form - the singing is in a completely different register and style than everything else the ear hears from day to day. The gymnastics the trained human voice is capable of that are so addicting to all of us here is an acquired taste to most other people who don't know how to process the operatic voice.

    For me, it took an exceptionally good live performance that, despite my better judgement, captivated me. Opera gives me a lasting thrill - a rush - that rock can only dream about. True awe. I'm not sure that easing your son slowly into opera is going to have much success (nor is a performance of "Carmen" the answer). I would say that he has to be willing to open himself up to it - maybe something of a negotiated surrender. You might be able to appeal to his intellectual side and try persuading him that it will give him lifelong pleasure - and something that will always be there.

    I wish I knew the answer. I think about this question regularly, as it seems to be a riddle. Unfortunately, there is also the fact that opera is hopelessly uncool. I have always had an offbeat side such that it came as no surprise to my friends that I developed a taste for opera - and, I didn't really care what they thought.

    I know exactly what you want to share - I've tried to do this myself for years with friends and family - to no avail.

  11. #11
    Member Member Elena House's Avatar
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    I realize this thread is about a year old but it got me asking the same question to my mom and dad at dinner. (For some of you who don't know I'm 14 years old and I have been singing Opera for about a year now. My teacher is an ex-opera singer who lives in Paris.) I asked my parents if they knew when and why I started to like opera. First they said it was because I had heard it all my life because they listen to opera at home and in the car and we go to a few live performances every year. I said that I didn't think that was the whole reason because Mr. Almaviva would certainly have done the same with his son. My mom then insisted it was because when she was pregnant with me she would put me to sleep by playing some opera. I'm quite certain Mr. Almaviva hadn't done that but perhaps his wife had.

    I came up with some key points in my experiences that may have drawn me to not only tolerate opera like some kids would if their parents forced it upon them but to love it like I do today. The first memory I have of opera is when I was 3 and we were watching a performance of Madame Butterfly. I remember I was dressed in a very fancy dress and I loved to dress up. Thinking back, the dressing up was always a very fun part of the opera event. I'm not suggesting Mr. Almaviva should put his son in a dress of course but the "event" part was something that made it special for me.

    Another prominent memory would be the stage settings. Seeing the stage come alive with color that is so much more vivid live than on any TV screen was magical to me and still is. Opera is firstly about the highest level of singing but I think that sometimes it takes more of our senses to get involved in something to help spark a deep interest.

    And now that I just said "highest level" I came up with something else. It seems to me that one must really give a lot of attention, focus and energy to understand any "high level" art (or science for that matter) deep enough to appreciate it. If someone is not ready to give a lot of attention to a music type and to listen casually to music in general perhaps it is hard to "get it". My father is a master of the martial art Aikido. It takes a lot of focus and attention to really understand why it is the highest level of martial art. Most opera enthusiasts might be turned off by the idea of Aikido because it falls under the category "martial art" and with a casual look it would seem the same as the others. That may not be the best analogy but it is one I am very acquainted with. I think you get my point. If someone feels they don't have time to get real deep into opera their sub-conscience might interpret that as "I don't like opera". Maybe.

    I know that when I mention opera to any of my peers I get either blank stairs or "what's that". It seems like they have no motivation to even understand what I'm talking about. By far most of the people who listen to my music on my Youtube channel are 45 to 65 years old. The only young people I meet who like opera are other classical singing students.

    I think we are not alone with our difficulty of sharing what we love. It also happens when I try to talk about and get someone excited about Aikido.

  12. #12
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elena House View Post
    My mom then insisted it was because when she was pregnant with me she would put me to sleep by playing some opera. I'm quite certain Mr. Almaviva hadn't done that
    Hm... it is true that I have no recollection of ever being pregnant. LOL

    I'm not suggesting Mr. Almaviva should put his son in a dress of course
    Thankfully!

    ----

    You're kind of scaring me, Elena. But other than for the two relatively weird statements above (funny enough, manhood and quiches have been a topic, lately - now, pregnant men, and men in dresses???), your post is interesting.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Member Member Hilltroll72's Avatar
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    As many of you know, certainly including Alma, listening to/watching opera is not my favorite leisure pastime. For our purpose here, this is good. Listening to non-opera classical music is though, and that may not be a good thing, depending. Anyway... I do enjoy some church music, much of Monteverdi's for instance, and some of Bach's oratorios - in particular the Christmas Oratorio. In the recording of it I have at least, nobody gets to yelling much, and when they do they are cheerful about it. Who knows, it maybe might possibly be a foot in the door.

  14. #14
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilltroll72 View Post
    As many of you know, certainly including Alma, listening to/watching opera is not my favorite leisure pastime. For our purpose here, this is good. Listening to non-opera classical music is though, and that may not be a good thing, depending. Anyway... I do enjoy some church music, much of Monteverdi's for instance, and some of Bach's oratorios - in particular the Christmas Oratorio. In the recording of it I have at least, nobody gets to yelling much, and when they do they are cheerful about it. Who knows, it maybe might possibly be a foot in the door.
    There is a staged version of Handel's Messiah that you might like. Or not. I don't know. But why don't you give it a try?

    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  15. #15
    Member Member Hilltroll72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    There is a staged version of Handel's Messiah that you might like. Or not. I don't know. But why don't you give it a try?

    Thanks for the tip. Although my life experience has indicated that I don't have an 'addictive' personality, I am enamored of Ferrier's voice. In order to avoid any possibility of over-exposure to the music, I avoid any non-Ferrier Messiah. Same deal when Xerxes sings of his admiration for that plane tree. The Lieder I am more flexible about.

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