If I say "Opera," what do you think of? Stuffy concert halls stuffed with huffy hushed audience?Sweating sopranos belting out glass-cracking Italian crescendos? The aged elite able to shell out the cash for such a performance? Come on. The answers yes, isn't it?
Digging deeper, one can argue that there are many connections, not least of which is the obsessiveness of each genre's most dedicated aficionados.
Consider the opera fanatics. I don't know about you, but those that I've met incessantly critique all aspects of singers, conductors, directors, composers, set designers and opera companies. The hard-core opera geeks know the intricacies of how the human voice works, and how it "should" work in any given operatic role performed by any given singer. Certain voices fit certain roles perfectly, but singers often try on roles a size or two too big. Not pretty, and the opera fan will be sure to loudly point that out.
In the "higher realms of rap," you have to navigate the interior social strata, the subtleties of sampling and layers of meaning behind the braggadocio and how it relates to selling records. Rap, like opera, also has a complicated "cast list." Keeping up with who appears on whose singles, mixtapes and remixes can be as confounding as keeping track of who sang what on the famous Knappertsbusch Ring cycles. And with rap, like opera, there are a huge amount of regional variety, from Compton to Atlanta to the Bronx, London and Istanbul. It's like high school all over again. Who doing what and with who and who's cool now and who's not anymore.
The bottom line, in my opinion, is that Opera and rap take work to appreciate — perhaps more work than these average listeners are willing to expend.In a world where more and more music is available to anyone's ears, there have developed a great many lazy listeners (harsh, I know, but true, I think). Is it too easy to download too much, to acquire everything but actually hear nothing? Um, yeah, it is. Many people love a hit song, but few take the time to fully appreciate a complete hip-hop album, let alone an entire opera. It also takes work to enjoy music that's as in-your-face as opera and rap admittedly are.
With all the melodrama, social consciousness, violence and intense vocal styles, they certainly are not musical furniture. Like it or hate it, it's definitely in the room.