I used to have regular access to opera. When I was a kid, we saw broadcasts on PBS. I remember attending live performances in my home town. When we were starting out freelancing we played several small opera festivals in the summers, and some of our orchestras were able to put together semi-staged productions within our seasons. But for regional orchestras and small towns now the opera opportunities have gotten pretty sparse. Universities can sometimes put productions together, and the big opera companies are still doing their thing, but I can't count on any regular pit playing in my life anymore.
An opera is a huge thing. There are a lot of moving parts, and my bits - the orchestra bits - are among the smallest. Sets, costumes, staging, direction, supertitles, star singers, choruses, conductors - I’m surprised anyone still does this! It’s incredibly expensive and time-consuming to do a real production, and the market for it is small. EXTREMELY enthusiastic, but small.
All this to say, when I get an chance these days to dig into some of this fantastic, rich, complex music I do not take it lightly. The Northwest Indiana Symphony is presenting a concert version of Puccini’s Tosca tomorrow night, and the rehearsals have just been thrilling, and I cannot wait to perform it. It’s just breathtaking material, beautifully sung by great soloists, and the orchestra will do fine, and I will be on the edge of my seat, loving every minute.