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Busting myths and belting high notes. There's a lot to love about opera / npr: Weekend Edition Sunday

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We've been starting this new year off with genres of music you might not listen to, or that you say you're not a fan of - so far, we've covered jazz, country and deep house. One of those styles of music people love to say they hate is opera, so we asked NPR's resident opera expert Tom Huizenga to explain what he loves about the music and to soothe some common opera-related anxieties.

Well there's a lot to love about opera. For one thing, it's one of the most complicated art forms because, if you think about it: you've got drama, you've got music, you've got singing, you've got costumes, you've got lighting, you've got ballet sometimes. You've got all kinds of stagecraft. When all the cylinders are firing, it can be mind-blowing. But for me, it ends up being all about the voice. They've got to do it without a microphone, over the top of an orchestra, and they've got to project that voice, even if it's soft, way up to the nose-bleed seats. A great example of delicate singing is from the Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé who sculpts a gorgeous line, with painterly precision, in the aria "D'amor sull'ali rosee" from Verdi's Il trovatore, all on a single breath.

Also, we need to get rid of this American thing where we only speak one language and we only care about one language. All operas are subtitled whether you see them at the theater, whether you're watching them on DVD or on television. If you listen to tenor Joseph Calleja sing an aria from Francesco Cilea's L'arlesiana, you don't need to speak a word of Italian to understand that the character is sad and he's lost his love, a love that he can't have. PHOTO: Maria Baranova/Beth Morrison Projects

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