The Four Archetypes of Opera Lovers


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Compared to opera fanatics where the common patterns of those dedicated live alone and have difficulties with balancing opera going with relationships or family, a majority of them being middle class. Many of their encounters with opera have an intense emotional experience which builds their foundation for love of opera, as well as resulting in declaring themselves an expert. The author notes that the standing room patrons separate themselves from those who pay for seats. The ones who stand are the ‘true’ fans, who are motivated by pure love of art, while others have not reached the same opera experience. In the opera house, they are building a self-image around opera but it stays in the house. They do not tend to network with or even form outside-the-house friendships with their standing room friends. Hiding their passion for opera from everyday life. The author mentioned four archetypes of opera fans. One where the individual describes their devotion in terms of sacrifices made.

Meaning that at whatever the cost they feel compelled to attend the opera. An addict, who is insistent in reaching a musical high. Highs that can elicit melancholy moments in the classics and experiencing the unknown. The nostalgic that finds that the new showing never reaches the level of enlightenment from the originals. Lastly, the pilgrims who see the opera house as a sacred place, and a strong bonded community. That is exclusive from normal everyday life. Describing one of the author’s interviews Benzecry reported, that a person named Franco describes himself as “a professional opera fan,” and spends about a quarter of his income on opera – related activities. He attends performance three times a week – five, if his schedule permits – regularly buy CDs, books, and DVDs, and constantly listens to opera on the radio.

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Although he has enough money to purchase subscription tickets, for him, opera is not about sitting quietly and properly; it is an activity that must be experienced standing. But a key to being a “professional fan” is study. “After the show is over, I continue at home. I read I listen to radio shows, pay attention to certain fragments of music in my records” he says. He dedicates at least two hours of every day to opera, in addition to the performances themselves, listening for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. He listens while cooking or ironing his shirts, or before going to work. Pre-show preparation takes place on the weekends, when he has more time, is a bit more relaxed, and can focus intently. Like most opera fans, he tries to avoid reading reviews before attending an opera for the first time, so as not to cloud his critical judgment. There was a time when Franco used to do other things, like go to the movies. But that is no longer the case. There was a time when Franco used to do other things, like go to the movies. But that is no longer the case. What makes someone like Franco an opera fan? Is it something that starts in one’s home and upbringing, or is it something people pick up along the way? While class background and socialization are certainly part of the equation, the story of Franco -someone from a rural, working-class family who had no predisposition toward opera – suggests that such explanations can only be partial ones.

While one’s class position may influence the probability of being exposed to opera in the family, or at school, engaging and investing in opera works like a career in which individuals learn, day after day, to simultaneously enjoy opera and become fans. The effective connection typically happens first – and often suddenly. To love someone or something is to reorganize your life, navigate constraints and trials, rearrange activities, and even exclude others from entering or becoming close. These are often the terms fans used to speak of opera. In interviews, they talk of falling in love at first sight, working to maintain that love, being addicted to certain moments, and tragically falling out of love. Key to understanding what makes someone a fan, what pushes a person past affection for a certain something into a real, genuine, overpowering love for it, requires us to look at how people come into fandom.

If loving opera happens suddenly for passionate fans, sustaining the love over time requires making an emotional commitment, dedicating oneself to learning, and informally socializing with other fans. This indicating that these performances can be addictive and people find comfort in evading the reality. Escaping the outside worlds pressures and keeping their opera-going as a place of comfort and empowers their self-image.

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