Lessons From The World Of Opera For 10 years, commentator Marc Acito got laughs taking pratfalls as an operatic comic tenor, which shaped the way he views the world. So though the current economy at home and war abroad feel operatically dire, Acito thinks there are lessons we can learn from the world of opera.
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Lessons From The World Of Opera

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Lessons From The World Of Opera

Lessons From The World Of Opera

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

For 10 years, commentator Marc Acito got laughs taking pratfalls as an operatic comic tenor. It shaped the way he views the world. He thinks there are lessons we can learn from the world of opera.

MARC ACITO: Sure, times are bad. I myself am wondering how much the stimulus package will stimulate food onto my table. But the only way to get through tough times is to laugh, which is why I go to the opera.

ACITO: (Singing) (Speaking foreign language).

ACITO: I mean, come on. The guy has just found out his wife is cheating on him, and what does he sing? The operatic equivalent of...

ACITO: (Singing) Make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh.

ACITO: Or, if you think you're working too hard just to keep up, remember "The Barber of Seville." When he sings...

ACITO: Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, Figaro...

ACITO: ...it's not because he likes the sound of his own voice. Well, actually, most baritones do like the sound of their own voices, but in this case, he's actually complaining about how he has to be in so many places at once.

ACITO: (Singing) (Speaking foreign language).

ACITO: It's no exaggeration to say Figaro's overwork is what led to the French Revolution.

Trust me, whatever you're going through, someone in opera has it worse. Not sure how you're going to pay for daycare? Just remember Azucena, the gypsy in "Il Trovatore," who throws her own baby into a bonfire by mistake.

NORRIS: It ain't over till the fat lady sings. But actually, it ain't over until she's coughed up a lung from tuberculosis, jumped off a parapet after killing her rapist and watching her lover shot by a firing squad, or performing hari-kari while the child she named Trouble sits blindfolded in the next room. Yeah, and you thought you had it bad.

NORRIS: Once you've told people they're about to die, telling them that they're out of a job ain't so bad.

Perhaps the greatest tragedian of all was Guiseppe Verdi, who composed heartwarming pieces like "Aida," where the lovers suffocate to death in a tomb but still manage to go out singing. After a long career of torture, dismemberment and disaster, the 80-year-old Verdi finally wrote a comedy, "Falstaff," which ends with the words...

ACITO: (Singing) (Speaking foreign language)...

ACITO: ...which means, roughly: The world's a joke, and we're all jokers. Let's sing to that.

NORRIS: Commentator Marc Acito is the author of the comic novel, "Attack of the Theater People." He sings for his supper in Portland, Oregon.

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