Watching Aria: An Operatic Experience

Watching Aria: An Operatic Experience

It is often in the smallest of venues that the brightest stars are able to shine.

The space is dim, lit only by natural light creeping in through propped doors and open windows. For all intents and purposes, the room is entirely ordinary. Yellow walls with white trim, linoleum floors – a den of nostalgia for anyone who has attended a small recital in a cramped space. In the center of the room, a sleek piano sits with its top open like a wing, like a stretching bird that is still deciding what song it wants to use to greet the day.

And in front of everything, there is a woman. Shrouded in red and staring demurely out into her audience, the music lifts around her, moved by the deft plunk-plunk-plunking of the piano beside her.

As her musical introduction wanes, she isn’t fazed as her fingers flip the music. She maintains her character, keeps the viewer within the story she is weaving with only her simple expression. She hasn’t even yet begun to sing.

The moment the accompaniment quietens is when she lifts her chin and sings the first notes. For a split second, it is only her voice, with no pretense or distraction. After that, she participates in a musical exchange between her and the accompaniment, a back-and-forth between soft piano and floating vocals.

The long vocal pauses leave the air tense with anticipation, pulsing with emotion conveyed only through the singer’s delivery. Her expression, her posture, her clothing choice – it all tells a story that can only be understood if the listener’s language matches the lyrics. She expresses a sense of yearning, of melancholy, with a downcast frown and knit brow. Still, those who cannot understand can still feel the tale, become wrapped up in it, even if they can’t comprehend it. 

Eventually, the vocals and accompaniment begin to circle each other, working in tandem to carry the second half of the song. Softly, as if on a breeze, the listener is carried through the rest of the song, guided by blissful high notes and ethereal moments. The melancholy, almost longing emotion can be felt throughout the entire performance, and the act does not waver. It evokes a sense of longing in the listener, harkening back to a longing of her own. 

The final note is sung, and the music winds down. With a downcast stare, the singer allows the final notes of the song to float on, dissipating completely before breaking character and indulging in her applause. 

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    Paulina Korchagin

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