I attended my first opera this last Friday night. I have always felt skeptical of a performance that I wasn't sure I would entirely understand, (I guess I had the misconception that all operas were performed in Italian.) Yet when I found out that Intermountain Opera of Bozeman, Montana, was set to perform Camelot I couldn't stay away.
The tales of Camelot and Avalon have always swept me away. The glamor of Excalibur, the legendary beauty of Guinevere and the epic heart of King Arthur are more than any story could ever hope to acclaim for itself. So, knowing what I know of Arthurian legend, I recruited the most likely friend to attend Camelot with me and we bought the tickets. (She had attended operas previously, I knew attending this one wouldn't take any convincing.)
The performance was breathtaking. The performers all knew their characters so well and their voices were powerful and beautiful. It wasn't singers trying to act or actors trying to sing, the cast could wholly own the entirety of their parts without any gaps. The costuming and stage were also on point. (I used to teach drama, I watch for these kinds of things.) And, you know what? They were funny.
I honestly didn't expect to laugh so much during an opera. (I apparently had a very skewed idea of what opera could be.) But they joked, and it made the Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Merlin so much more human as they joked and laughed and monologued about how they wished to be better people or whether they could figure out what to do. (Here's a hint, Guinevere still loved her husband even though she loved Lancelot, and Lancelot still loved Arthur as a brother even though he was in love with Arthur's wife.) The performers made the story come alive for me for three incredible hours, and I will always be grateful to them for making my first opera experience absolutely memorable.
If Lerner & Loewe's Camelot is made into production near you by a quality opera company, then you should definitely make the time to attend.