How I Started In My Opera Fandom

In one way it's frightening (at least to me) that this will be the fortieth anniversary of how I came to be an opera fan.

It started on one August afternoon in 1973 when I was six. I had been I the garden playing with some friends when I decided to go inside for a drink because it was hot. I got inside and I was almost blown off my feet by the sound that came out of the battered old record player. At first I thought the singing was actually I the house, the sound so warm, rich and clear. I realised soon after it was a record. Most of the records my parents had were LPS of transfers of 78s of singers who, even then, were long dead (Caruso, Schipa, Gigli, among others). The tenor was Giuseppe Di Stefano, singing Neapolitan songs on a DECCA LP (which I still have). Not only was this singer still living, he was still performing at the time.

Over time, I collected (or rather, my parents) collected some more LPs of opera and included more of Di Stefano, to my delight. Another LP included one of Maria Callas (because I was so young I considered her to be a silly girlie). As I got older, my interest grew and developed and stopped treating sopranos and mezzos as annoyances and became a fan of some. RIGOLETTO was my first full length opera set (Callas, Di Stefano, Tito Gobbi), and from that point, I really became hooked. I saw CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and I PAGLACCI on BBC with the then promising Placido Domingo.

My first opera on stage was when I went to see IL TROVATORE at King Georges Hall, Blackburn in 1997. That fired my enthusiasm even more, and I travelled around the country to see more operas. I became a "Friend of the Royal Opera" in 2003 and have been to see 24 operas since. There is something exciting about the build-up and the atmosphere of a live performance. Highlights included DER ROSENKAVALIER, FAUST with Gheorghiu and Pape and Domingo as the Doge in SIMON BOCCANEGRA.

Even after this time, and having read negative comments and heard less than flattering clips of him on YOUTUBE, Di Stefano still retains a special place I my opera experience. Grazie, Pippo!
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1 Response Jan 12, 2013

Great background thanks

How things have changed - I recall that my grandparents only had about few dozen heavy 78rpm records (one aria only each side!). They used to like play Gigli and Caruso very loudly!

Nowdays I seem to have been able to fill much of a 1 terrabyte video recorder with almost 30 complete opera in High Definition video super sound.