AIDA

To the Editor:

As a Stanford undergraduate in the 1950s I was an occasional, silent “spear-carrier” for the San Francisco Opera Company. For the 1952 Aida I was costumed as an Egyptian soldier. The skimpy tunic was drafty. My tacit, spear-carrying station at the very footlights above the orchestra pit amplified my sense of drafty exposure. Ah, what one must do for art!

My Scottish grandmother was an avid opera lover and had been an aspiring professional opera singer. She lived near Stanford and often invited me for family meals. Busying herself in the kitchen she would occasionally treat us to snatches of arias including Aida’s O Patria Mia. In 1952 she presented me with her copyright 1897 vocal score of this Verdi masterpiece. I still treasure that score.

In 2017, after 65 years of chorus work, occasional minor roles and voiceless spear-carrying, I hung up my weapon. I then joined the silent majority in the house.

My great joy came July 17, 2019 when Catamount Arts presented a MetOpera re-run of their incredible production of this past season’s AIDA. With perhaps a hundred soloists, choristers, dancers, horses, weaponry and impedimentia on stage, the singing and spectacle were truly “grand”.

Just as a play is no longer “just” a book, and an opera is no longer “just” a play, a MetOpera with its exciting camera angles (including shots from above the stage) is more than “just” an opera.

A MetOpera production is an extraordinary experience. Catamount Arts performs an equally extraordinary service to the Northeast Kingdom by bringing the annual MetOpera series (and its summer re-runs) to St. Johnsbury.

Vermont Public Radio has joined with Catamount Arts and MetOpera in a manner which allows me to travel north from West Fairlee to enjoy the MetOpera series in the remarkable St Johnsbury venue. My thanks to each member of this arts partnership.

The 2019-20 series opens with Porgy and Bess, Turandot, La Traviata, Madama Butterfly and Macbeth. Don’t miss this opportunity. (My grandmother would be proud.)

Jim Hughes

West Fairlee, Vermont

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