101 Operas

I am an Art Teacher from Pennsylvania who fell in love with the magnificent sounds of Opera. Mornings after each performance I would search out a coffee shop and write about what I was hearing and feeling; why I love it and why I think everyone should try Opera at least once. I was really getting somewhere too, and then the covid pandemic happened. The voices of the world went behind masks and the theaters closed.

The isolation was deafening, but a book on my shelf bragged of better times; its title was “100 Great Operas.” It became a challenge, a line drawn, it was a seed of a thought; when the world opened up again, I would see 100 operas. I didn’t think it was a realistic goal, not really, but it felt necessary to dream and have something to look forward to when and if the world re-opened.

Of course the world did re-open. The journey became not only possible, but grew into so much more. It documents the theatre world during a pandemic, the “Me Too” movement that disgraced the conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, but saw the rise of the current conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, “Black Lives Matter” happened and with it an overdue conscious effort to bring more diverse representation to the orchestra and stage. Then on a personal note, a love story delightfully weaves itself in and out of the pages.

What a time to write about Opera! A moment!! New composers are revitalizing the genre filling large and small stages across the country with many new and vital Operas.

As a fan it has been a very special adventure to learn about this most ambitious and unique of art forms. If you have an interest in learning about Opera too, I hope you will enjoy this journey with me and follow along and learn as I do the answer to a question with many answers: What is Opera?

Why isn’t the goal to see 100 operas if the book that inspired me was 100 operas? Honestly, because the zero before the O (100Operas) just didn’t look right, and a 1000 operas didn’t seem like a realistic goal (but maybe)? It also occurred to me that the number is pretty arbitrary and the blog is more about the experience; the journey. I like that 101 suggests that the journey is greater than the goal, and seeing 100 great operas is just the beginning…

Ultimately, my goal for this blog is to share my personal story of trying to see these 101 operas, connect with other opera lovers, and hopefully inspire someone to see an opera for the very first time.

When not at the opera, I like to draw things and walk around museums.

Joe Bliss
Small ears full of big sounds.

Cover Image: Thomas Nozkowski, untitled, 2015

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