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Photos Of A Family Dream: Opera Houses Around The World

Anton Gutman dreamed of being a singer. Trained after WWII by a famous operatic tenor, he hoped that with proper training he might one day travel the world like his Swedish contemporary, the acclaimed Jussi Bjorling. But Gutman had neither Bjorling's luck nor his larynx.

Detained at a prisoner-of-war camp in the Soviet Union, he performed when he could — for prisoners and officers. And, as his grandson David Leventi recalls, Gutman spent the rest of his life filling the house with music. Today, echoes of Gutman's voice and dreams resound in his grandson's photographs; Leventi's photo series, Bjorling Larynx, shows empty opera houses from around the world.

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The photographs, all shot on medium and large-format film to maximize detail, present the same ineffable beauty that an opera performance might. Each room has seen hundreds of performances by legendary musicians and composers; housed thousands of viewers; withstood the years of lavish despotism or war-torn strife. Each house is like the city's architectural great-grandmother, comfortable to just sit in its old age and jewelry, filled with stories and secrets but no real need to share them. "As the son of two architects," Leventi adds in his artist statement, "I experience an almost religious feeling walking into a grand space such as an opera house."

There's a reverence for the houses both as tangible cultural monuments, and as symbols of a family dream. But in a sense, Leventi fulfilled his grandfather's wish by spending time in these houses, performing in his own way — with a camera. His series is now on display at Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans.

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