INTERVIEW: Opera in the Park
Spending an evening outside might be reward enough after the summer we’ve just endured, but settling on a rooftop, opening up a gourmet picnic hamper and listening to internationally acclaimed opera singers is how Dubai does al fresco. No half measures here.
Wafi’s Opera in the Park returns this week, with John Innes, Georg Tormann and American soprano and Dubai resident Julia Kermott (above) performing on Wafi’s rooftop gardens on Thursday and Friday. We asked Julia whether opera can be for everyone.
Okay, first things first, opera is all a bit starched collars and etiquette, no?
Opera can be quite intimidating but once people experience it, I hope they realise it is for everybody and everyone can have their own personal experience of the music and the story.
So, we don’t have to wear black tie and know when to clap?
No. None of the decorum really matters. The only thing I care about is that people respect the performance by giving it their full attention. A direct line of communication can then be opened up between the singer and the audience.
Are there many opera fans in the UAE?
Yes. Some of the audience come for the nostalgia of what they used to hear in their home countries but some people just come to have a completely new experience.
Give us some homework. What should we listen to?
I’d say watch some productions on YouTube: they often provide subtitles so you can understand exactly what is being sung at each moment. Also, read the synopsis beforehand so you know the storyline. That way you are really a part of the journey as it unfolds. I’d recommend starting with La Traviata by Verdi, Tosca by Puccini and Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart.
Okay, other than the hamper, why should we come?
Opera is so much more than the sounds that the voices make; it is about the intensely personal and emotional expression of the artists through the composers’ music.