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Garrett Harris plays opera to golfing buddy in Balboa Park

Admitting it's more of a hip-hop or country music crowd

The transition from ZZ Top’s “She’s got Legs” to “The Flower Duet” was somewhat jarring.
The transition from ZZ Top’s “She’s got Legs” to “The Flower Duet” was somewhat jarring.

I was golfing with a friend at San Diego’s classic Balboa Park Golf Course when he suddenly started playing opera on the Bluetooth speaker he had mounted in one of the cup holders. Previously, the selection had been 80s rock. The transition from ZZ Top’s “She’s got Legs” to “The Flower Duet” from Leo Delibes’s Lakme was somewhat jarring.

Video:

Flower Duet

(1976) With Joan Sutherland & Huguette Tourangeau.

(1976) With Joan Sutherland & Huguette Tourangeau.

“Opera?”, I asked.

“Sure. Why not?”, he replied.

After a few somewhat famous opera arias had gone by, my friend said, “I think I need some pop-era.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, Something I know like–like the Mozart of opera.”

“Mozart is the Mozart of opera.”

I was pleased with the drollness of my reply. At that point, Verdi’s "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto came on and my friend had something that he recognized.

Video:

Saint-Saëns - Samson et Dalila

Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix - Shirley Verrett

Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix - Shirley Verrett

I was impressed with my friend’s willingness to explore opera in such a public space. I mean, opera on the golf course? Once upon a time in the 1950s or 60s that would have made sense but public golf is becoming more of a hip-hop or country music crowd.

To be honest, I don’t care about the musical tastes of golfers on a public course. What I care about is pace of play. If you’re new to golf, standing over a shot for a full minute will not make you hit the ball better. Just hit the ball, hope the best, and move it along.

However, if you’re new to opera, like my friend, here are a few recommendations. Everyone knows “Nessun Dorma” and "La donna è mobile". The pieces I’m recommending here should be new to most casual opera dabblers or duffers if you will.

Opera is often about romance and nothing will get you in the mode like “Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix” from Samson et Dalila by Camille Camille Saint-Saëns. Between the title of the aria and the name of the composer, that’s a lot of French diction. Don’t worry about it.

Video:

La Fanciulla del West - Puccini

Plácido Domingo - "Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano"

Plácido Domingo - "Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano"

In this aria, Dalila is seducing Samson, inviting him to repose with her. Who doesn’t like a good reposing now and then? Samson falls for it and immediately after this aria, Dalila sheers his hair, robbing him of his legendary strength. I often have wondered if it was the loss of hair or the reposing that sapped ol’ Samson of his virility. Either way, this aria is worth adding to your opera playlist.

Video:

Mozart's Marriage of Figaro

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings "Porgi Amor."

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings "Porgi Amor."

Before “Nessun Dorma”, there was "Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano" from Puccini’s *La fanciulla del West.” While “Nessun Dorma” is an aria victory, "Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano" is an aria of desperation. The outlaw Dick Johnson has fallen in love with Minnie, the town’s sweetheart. After being captured, he asks the sheriff to tell Minnie he has left to start a new life of redemption as opposed to being hung as a criminal.

The final piece is “Porgi Amor” from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. The Countess is dealing with a husband with a wandering eye. She has hit rock bottom and asks love to either bring him back or let her die in mercy. It think we've all been there. “Porgi Amor” is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.

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The transition from ZZ Top’s “She’s got Legs” to “The Flower Duet” was somewhat jarring.
The transition from ZZ Top’s “She’s got Legs” to “The Flower Duet” was somewhat jarring.

I was golfing with a friend at San Diego’s classic Balboa Park Golf Course when he suddenly started playing opera on the Bluetooth speaker he had mounted in one of the cup holders. Previously, the selection had been 80s rock. The transition from ZZ Top’s “She’s got Legs” to “The Flower Duet” from Leo Delibes’s Lakme was somewhat jarring.

Video:

Flower Duet

(1976) With Joan Sutherland & Huguette Tourangeau.

(1976) With Joan Sutherland & Huguette Tourangeau.

“Opera?”, I asked.

“Sure. Why not?”, he replied.

After a few somewhat famous opera arias had gone by, my friend said, “I think I need some pop-era.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, Something I know like–like the Mozart of opera.”

“Mozart is the Mozart of opera.”

I was pleased with the drollness of my reply. At that point, Verdi’s "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto came on and my friend had something that he recognized.

Video:

Saint-Saëns - Samson et Dalila

Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix - Shirley Verrett

Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix - Shirley Verrett

I was impressed with my friend’s willingness to explore opera in such a public space. I mean, opera on the golf course? Once upon a time in the 1950s or 60s that would have made sense but public golf is becoming more of a hip-hop or country music crowd.

To be honest, I don’t care about the musical tastes of golfers on a public course. What I care about is pace of play. If you’re new to golf, standing over a shot for a full minute will not make you hit the ball better. Just hit the ball, hope the best, and move it along.

However, if you’re new to opera, like my friend, here are a few recommendations. Everyone knows “Nessun Dorma” and "La donna è mobile". The pieces I’m recommending here should be new to most casual opera dabblers or duffers if you will.

Opera is often about romance and nothing will get you in the mode like “Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix” from Samson et Dalila by Camille Camille Saint-Saëns. Between the title of the aria and the name of the composer, that’s a lot of French diction. Don’t worry about it.

Video:

La Fanciulla del West - Puccini

Plácido Domingo - "Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano"

Plácido Domingo - "Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano"

In this aria, Dalila is seducing Samson, inviting him to repose with her. Who doesn’t like a good reposing now and then? Samson falls for it and immediately after this aria, Dalila sheers his hair, robbing him of his legendary strength. I often have wondered if it was the loss of hair or the reposing that sapped ol’ Samson of his virility. Either way, this aria is worth adding to your opera playlist.

Video:

Mozart's Marriage of Figaro

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings "Porgi Amor."

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings "Porgi Amor."

Before “Nessun Dorma”, there was "Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano" from Puccini’s *La fanciulla del West.” While “Nessun Dorma” is an aria victory, "Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano" is an aria of desperation. The outlaw Dick Johnson has fallen in love with Minnie, the town’s sweetheart. After being captured, he asks the sheriff to tell Minnie he has left to start a new life of redemption as opposed to being hung as a criminal.

The final piece is “Porgi Amor” from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. The Countess is dealing with a husband with a wandering eye. She has hit rock bottom and asks love to either bring him back or let her die in mercy. It think we've all been there. “Porgi Amor” is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.

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