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Daily Helping for January 13th, 2021 – Blaise Malaba

A photo of opera singer Blaise Malaba mid-performance.

I realized today that I’m almost at 100 daily helpings (I know, right?!), and I had yet to feature an opera piece. I decided to rectify this, and landed on this beautiful performance by Blaise Malaba. While watching it, I was reminded of the first time I went to the opera. Specifically, I was reminded of what a bewildering experience it was. I was 18, I had never been to the opera before, and I was going to see The Girl of the West by Puccini. I can’t even begin to explain my confusion when the curtain came up to reveal a California gold rush saloon, and the actors all came out dressed as miners and cowboys. And they then promptly began singing in Italian with English subtitles displayed above the stage.

Let’s just say it was the weirdest mashup of aesthetics I’d ever seen by that point in my life, and it made quite the impression. Not a particularly positive one, I’m afraid, as I wouldn’t say that opera has been of particular interest since then. That’s not to say I’ve had no exposure at all in the years since. One of my dear friends is an opera singer, and I could listen to her sing all day. But even so, I still find opera rather bewildering to watch. And after watching this video, I think I have an idea as to why.

Normally, I have no problem with subtitles. I love watching international films and television shows, and I don’t mind having to read to do so. But in this case, I found myself ignoring the words more and more as the number went on. Blaise Malaba has such a beautiful voice, and the words sound so refined and elegant when he sings them. Reading the English almost ruins it. At least, that’s how it felt for me. And that’s when I realized that I didn’t have to know what he’s saying. I just wanted to be carried away by his voice. Maybe that’s the trick for how I can enjoy opera in the future. I should stop reading the subtitles and just listen to the music. Hopefully I’ll get to test out this theory once theatres have re-opened.

One last note about this video that has to be said. The shirt that Malaba is wearing is absolutely glorious.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!