I think their primary prejudice is, Why does it have to take seven minutes to sing “I love you,” or five minutes to sing “I’m dying now”? I always say, “But that’s extremely fast.” Not in realistic terms, of course. But if you go to opera and expect realism, you’re really stupid. It’s not realism, obviously - even if we build a realistic set. Trying to express yourself about love in five minutes is fast. It can take two years to say that or to even understand that. Saying “I’m dying” in seven minutes is fast. Thinking about death occupies people from puberty through the rest of our lives. It’s the biggest existential question there is. But to express yourself about the feeling of dying, or the anxiety of dying, in seven minutes is actually pretty fast. My point is, in one evening, you go through in two and one-half hours what the rest of us spend our whole emotional lives living through. (…) It’s a workout, intense and focused - if you look for the emotional dimension and not the realistic one. Opera tries to show life as it is, not as it looks. (…) The reason it seems long is that we spend time on what’s important in life. When you look at your life, what’s going to define what it was? Not the everyday business, but the emotional highlights, disasters, or triumphs you had. That’s what we focus on in opera. and that’s because we have music.
It is a restless moment. She has kept her head lowered… to give him a chance to come closer. But he could not, for lack of courage. She turns and walks away.
Power suits for spring.
Photograph by Patrick Demarchelier; styled by Patrick Mackie; W Magazine February 2014.
Laura Benanti singing I Have Dreamed from The King and I.
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