After attending the fabulous show performed by The Palmetto Opera two weeks ago, I was reminded of our first family trip to Italy in 2018.
One of the side trips we took was especially exciting, as my father had acquired tickets to “Don Pasquale” by Donizetti at the La Scala Opera House in Milan.
My mother was never a fan of opera growing up, simply because she had never been exposed to it. However, my father’s family was from Germany, and were great aficionados of opera and the classical arts.
Since opera was a significant part of the culture of my grandparents, my mother found curriculum for our homeschool, led by Professor Robert Greenberg, Ph.D., music historian-in-residence with San Francisco Performances. She bought a number of courses, which inspired our love for opera. We would buy operas on film, watch Pathé Live online, PBS, and catch performances at the Newberry Opera House.
So, when my father was able to acquire these tickets to the opera in Milan, we were overjoyed, especially since there is family history tied to La Scala.
Our Great-Uncle Fritz on our grandmother’s side was the sound engineer for La Scala during WWII.
When the Nazis occupied Milan, they commanded Uncle Fritz to air Nazi propaganda. He refused, landing himself in prison with an execution date. Fortunately for Uncle Fritz, the allied forces arrived and liberated Milan before his execution. Afterwards, Fritz immigrated to the United States, where he worked for a defense contractor, Grumman, as a sound engineer. Grumman became involved in the NASA project, and Uncle Fritz became the designer of the sound system for the Lunar Module.
Because of our love of opera, and unique family story, this detour to Milan became the highlight of our trip.
(Well… I won gold at the Dance As Fire ballroom competition in Rome, but that’s beside the point.)
If you have never experienced opera, or have been influenced by the stigma that opera is a stale, boring art only for “old people,” I would encourage you to take a step outside of your comfort zone.