Two things: One, I was not responsible for the blanket placement at Friday nights' Opera Under the Stars at the Eagle Knoll winery; and two, I am an opera snob.
The winery was nice--what you'd expect from and evening billed as a romantic night of wine, food, friends and music. The flowers in bloom, the sun hot, the shade from the trees perfect for cutting the late afternoon heat and placing a blanket under said shade. (I brought my roommate, and it was him who placed said blanket too close to the couple who rudely stared us down each time we whispered commentary to each other and genuinely enjoyed being relaxed after a long week. His fault, and that's all the apology that couple is going to get from me.)
Meanwhile, picnic basket overflowing, a Friday evening crowd gathered, and my first glass of wine, a decent Eagle Knoll Winery Cabernet-Merlot blend, poured, I looked around and realized that I had no idea how an orchestra was going to fit on the stage. I didn't see rows upon rows of seating for the musicians. It wasn't a very big stage. That's when I decided to read my program and found the only reference to a musician credit was a pianist. Okay, that's fine. Mozart wrote his music on a piano and played it on a piano for rehearsals. I could handle piano.
The music began, the first half of the show a tribute to Mozart and two songs from The Barber of Seville. Snippets from The Magic Flute were followed by Cosi Fan Tutte and The Marriage of Figaro. Here's the thing: Mozart wrote his operas in certain vernaculars--Italian and German were among two of his favorite. He fought for the language, choose certain language to add dimensions of flow and lyric to his work. So when the first chord of The Magic Flute strained and the singing began in the translated English I realized in that moment that I'm an opera snob and I never even knew it.
As the night wore on and the music continued, I had a thought when Melissa Hamilton and Betany Coffland, two very outstanding singers, enunciated the first notes of "Via Resti Servita" in the original language. I suddenly sat up, took notice and decided that things were looking up. Then Melissa Hamilton sang a selection from The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini and I realized that oftentimes one extremely well sung number or one pure, precious note has the power to save the day.
There is something about music when all the hours of rehearsal and practice show in the emotion of the performer, in the slight choreographed raise of an arm, and the way it all blends with the accompaniment. That crystal pure note penetrates the soul for a brief moment and fulfillment resonates in each pore. That's the very reason opera was written in the first place.
Perhaps there was something to the piano, the setting sun, and the few extraordinary notes drifting across the new rows of grapes in the distance, mixed with a little conversation with a good friend and the first twinkling of a star in the sky.
The next performance of Opera Under the Stars is 7 p.m. on Aug. 12 at Tamarack Resort in Donnelly. Tickets are $25 general, $10 children 12 and under. For more information, visit www.operaidaho.org.