When David Tracey, The Tyee's very own populist opera aficionado, suggested we hold a little contest to find a reader wanting to accompany him to Puccini's Madama Butterfly, we thought that was a great idea. He had one requirement: that the person applying explain why he or she fears the opera.
Wouldn't you rather attend with someone you know won't be squirming in their seat next you the whole time, or worse, dozing off, we asked?
You don't get it, David said. I'm looking for a challenge.
Well David, meet your challenge. His name is Michael Bean. His entry was chosen at random from everyone who sent in an email expressing their (skeptical) openness to being converted.
Here's what Michael wrote in his email:
"I don't 'get' opera. The last time I went with a friend was years ago. She cried, I tried to stay awake. I'm a sensitive guy. I feel things. I watch chick flicks and occasionally cry. But I am completely unmoved by opera, despite my best efforts. I appreciate the musicality, I have some pieces in my music library that I love, I just don't understand the emotional engagement that seems to go with people's experience of watching it live. I end up reading subtitles and then getting drowsy.
"It's possible I just had lousy seats. I have no desire to be a philistine. I want to like capital-O Opera, I really do. Help a guy out. Michael Bean"
As we say, Michael won by pure happenstance, picked out of a hat. Among the other entries, here are three that made us laugh or tugged at our hearts.
"My fear of the opera? Hmmm, this one might classify more as a recurring thought. Perhaps sneezing in the front row and watching the main character stop what he/she is doing/singing, to look up at me with a nasty smirk! Kind regards, Ariane"
"Ok, I fear the opera as I am a pop culture addict -- nah, just kidding ;)
I simply want to go to the opera as I have never been and I'm almost 40, did I mention beautiful? And, I have always wanted to see 'Madame Butterfly,' it contains my favourite piece of music. Please choose me, I will be a kind and gracious, and so appreciative guest, and I can create a phobia if you really want, but I truly would love to join in this treat :) Thank you, Celeste"
"I would absolutely love to go to the opera with someone with knowledge about what is being presented. Due to ill health I am moving to Williams Lake at the beginning of June so will probably never have another chance to see one. I know everyone who enters this contest wants to win, but I am hoping like crazy that I do. Thank you for the opportunity to dream about it even if I don't win. Christine"
We wish David could take you all! And we're sure David wishes the same.
Check The Tyee next week for David's account of seeing the Vancouver Opera's production of Madama Butterfly with Michael Bean, sensitive guy, in the next chair.