In about two minutes time, I could purchase, download and start listening to almost any opera in the standard repertoire. I’d assume most people who appreciate classical music have an operatic selection or two (maybe more) sitting in their iTunes® library for those times when you need to fix a musical craving. However, opera is an experience, not just a soundtrack.
At Central City Opera, I’ve learned in my six weeks here that experience is about so much more than coming to see a performance. It’s about tradition and the feeling one gets when they witness, in person, those long-standing traditions first-hand. Opening Night takes this to the next level with exclusive traditions not seen on any other night of the Festival.
Here’s a brief guide to some of the traditions I enjoyed most on my first opening day at Central City Opera.
Dynamite Blast in the Hills: To signal the start of events for the first day of the festival, a blast of dynamite is fired off in the Hidee Mine, about two and a half miles from the Opera House. It’s a loud and impressive sound that you can almost feel—I can only imagine what it was like here in the late 1800s during the Gold Rush when dynamite was likely used frequently and in large quantities!
Usher Song and Procession: This is where the Festival Ushers (which includes myself and fellow 13 Festival Staffer/Interns) sing the traditional “Usher Song” and proceed in a march to the front steps of the Opera House. In traditional Victorian dress, this is a unique tradition that takes place twice on opening day.
|The 2011 Festival Staffers|
Presentation of the “Flower Girls”: Every year, a number of young women are presented at the “Yellow Rose Ball.” A yearly tradition named after the wild yellow roses planted in the area by Cornish miners, the event continues today. This year there were 36 Flower Girls presented.
Though you can only catch some of these long-running traditions on Opening Night, there are some unmistakable traditions that take place at each performance during the season. The “Usher Song” and march continues to take place before each performance along with the traditional “bell-ringing” to alert patrons that the performance is about to begin. So next time you download a song online, consider: how great of an experience are you getting out of it?