Diary of a self-proclaimed musical arts fanatic…

Opera is known for its fanatics. It is a rare artform that inspires and exhilarates all of the senses, and more often than not, procures life-long aficionados. But, what does it mean to be an aficionado – a true admirer and devotee of music? To guest blogger, Alex Gross, it means being an active supporter, as well as a fan. It also means enjoying the complete experience – the “spectacular sensory feast.”

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Some people are sports fanatics, others are pop music fanatics; I am a musical arts fanatic! Nothing excites or impresses me more than a well executed opera, ballet, or symphonic performance. The great maestros, tenors and sopranos, ballet dancers, and virtuosos are my rock stars. Watching 4 or 5 guys with electric instruments playing music loud enough to destroy your high frequency hearing can be entertaining, but experiencing the coordination of a full orchestra with a corps of dancers, a chorus, or operatic soloists is a spectacular sensory feast – especially if you are seated toward the front of the balcony, where you can watch the musicians in the pit, as well as the performers on the stage.

The Atlanta Opera has become increasingly successful in attracting world class artists for its productions. Following the final dress rehearsal of last season’s Magic Flute, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my opera idols, Kathleen Kim. Ms. Kim is a diminutive soprano with opulent range and projection. It is difficult to believe that such a huge voice emanates from such a tiny body. Portraying Mozart’s “Queen of the Night,” she beautifully performed the opera’s notoriously challenging arias with requisite bravado.

During the Metropolitan Opera’s 2009-2010 season, Kathleen Kim stole the show (in my opinion) from Anna Netrebko as the robotic Olympia in Les comtes d’Hoffman. When I shared this insight with her, she humbly accepted the compliment, and agreed to oblige me with a picture. I also have an autographed photo on the “music wall” in my home theater, proudly displayed in my collection of arts memorabilia.

The quality of The Atlanta Opera’s productions has been improving with each season. Local audiences have been reacting enthusiastically, but I look forward to the day when arts travelers chose Atlanta as a destination in the same manner that I visit other cities. This should be happening anytime now that we are getting coverage by Opera News! As patronage increases, the ability to finance increasingly ambitious productions improves, which in turn attracts larger audiences in a continuous cycle. And our weather is (usually) better.