It’s tradition to include a contribution from a manager and we always try to get an opera oriented contribution in as well. This year we get a two for one deal with Palm Beach Opera’s Director of Marketing & PR Ceci Dadisman; or as she puts it, the Operas’ chief marketing gal. And that’s Ceci in a nutshell: fun and relaxed without even a hint of ostentatiousness. ~ Drew McManus Trying to …
So I’m taking a classical-music neophyte-greenhorn-virgin to a concert – a prospect that’s both exhilarating and daunting. How do I know what he or she will take to, or like, and possibly even love? He or she certainly doesn’t.
When I was 18 and waiting to begin my first year at Cambridge University, I taught music to slightly younger teenagers, 12 to 16 years old, in a rough neighborhood school. I tried Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and the like on them – all to no avail. What finally got them going, surprisingly enough, was Bartok.
One of my most interesting and inspiring experiences as a conductor happened in China, but it had nothing to do with taking a friend to a concert. It had more to do with taking people in general to a place in life and the arts they didn’t know before. I want to link my Chinese experience to the topic of taking a friend to the orchestra. Taking a friend to the orchestra is really about sharing a meaningful experience, and sometimes that means trusting somebody to lead you into a field with which you are unfamiliar.
I didn’t see my first opera until my mid-20’s.
If I hadn’t entered this wonderful and crazy world as someone who works within the business, there’s a good chance I mightn’t have been around opera at all. I’m not an “insider,” and for the first part of my career, I felt the burden keenly. I got my first job in the opera business at age 29, and I always seemed to be surrounded by colleagues who were singing along with the Met broadcasts before they knew how to read. For years I played “catch up,” and am still easily intimidated.
When I bring a friend to the opera, my hope is that they’ll be surprised, delighted, and moved by things they didn’t expect to see, hear, or feel. Depending on the opera, I also hope they’ll experience a reassuring frisson of recognition, whether at a melody or story line familiar from a novel, a play, a movie, a commercial, or a cartoon; or scenic elements lifted from pop culture or famous paintings. I hope they’ll be amazed at how good it is, and how seamlessly music, words, acting, movement, and visual richness blend into this irrational entertainment that at its best is so much more than the sum of its parts. I hope they’ll say or think “Wow!” repeatedly over the course of the evening. I hope they’ll leave wanting more, and wondering why it took them so long to check it out in the first place.
Summer of 2000. My two sons, then aged 16 and almost 20, were
having a seemingly endless conversation about cars. The older one was
at the computer and the 16-year-old was standing nearby. Feeling the
inspiration for a bit of mischief, I thought to interrupt their
conversation with something – anything – that they had absolutely no