A Passion for Opera!

The Idea of Teaching an Opera Class!

The idea of teaching an “opera class” was a personal dream of mine that actually began to materialize around 1996. Like many middle aged persons of my generation, I wanted a drastic change in my life that would bring new and exciting challenges while allowing me to continue to give to others. I had been a very successful physician for 25 years, but the changes in the Health Care System in this country were distancing me more and more from my patients and the care I felt they deserved. So I closed my practice in Denver, moved to Sebastopol and asked myself, “What now”?

Some months later, I was visiting a friend in Bristol, UK and I attended a class she was taking in the Adult Education Program at the University of Bristol. The class was entitled “Mozart’s Operas” and it was brilliantly taught by a practicing Lawyer with no musical background other than his love of opera. A few days later, my friend had a dinner party attended by her opera teacher, myself and three other opera lovers.

After dinner, the group sat and listened to 10 different interpretations of the Willow Song from Verdi’s Otello, and into the wee hours of the morning, we discussed each singer’s interpretation of Verdi’s brilliant music. I knew that evening that I wanted to surround myself with others who loved this grandest of all art forms. If a Lawyer could teach opera, I reasoned, why not a Physician?

I returned to Sebastopol and began to develop a curriculum, oblivious to the fact that I had no place to teach. After 30 years of attending opera in this country and Europe, as well as working as a “super” in productions at the Opera Company of Boston (“supers” are the seeming cast of thousands on stage who inhabit the opera but don’t sing, thank God) and sitting through countless opera lectures, I had developed very definite ideas about how I would teach and what I could convey to others.

I determined that my main qualification for teaching was in fact my Passion for Opera. From that, I developed what I felt was an honest, straight forward approach to understanding and appreciating opera that was easy, friendly, exciting, non-intimidating and most of all would allow a student to relax, open his/hers ears and simply listen. The composer would do the rest. I named my first course: A Passion for Opera: All You Have to Do is Listen!