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What Do Opera and Fitness Have in Common?

On the morning of our travel to Santa Fe, I woke up with an uneasy feeling that we had missed our flight.  “Our flight is delayed for an hour and half,” said Robert, who was awakened 3 times during the night by American Airlines customer service flight status updates. He continued, “Maybe we shouldn’t go? It’s raining in San Antonio and it’s going to rain in New Mexico the entire time we’ll be there.  We have opera tickets in Santa Fe for tonight and if we don’t make our connecting flight in Dallas, we’ll miss the opera and an entire day out of our already very short vacation…  We can just hide here in the house for a week and nobody will know we’re here.”  However, I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time and with a little persuasion, we decided to take the risk and go anyway.

I love that moment when the plane takes off and pushes upward into the heavens.  I love the feeling of a free bird observing the world under the wing with light curiosity.  I love to fly because it gives me an opportunity to look at my life from far away atop the clouds.  I always think about all these people going about their business while we pass them by above.  We made the connection and both flights from San Antonio to Dallas, and Dallas to Albuquerque were quite pleasant. We arrived in New Mexico mid-afternoon, rented a car and embarked on the drive to our final destination – Santa Fe!  Every turn in the road opened new breathtaking vistas, as far as we could see in every direction.  New Mexico truly is the land of enchantment!

La Donna De LagoThe trip took its toll on us and after checking in to our hotel we decided to take it easy.  The time to go to the opera was inevitably approaching and both of us had some serious doubts as to whether we should go.  On one hand, we spent over $300 on opera tickets and the cast was supposed to be incredible, with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and coloratura tenor Lawrence Brownlee leading the production.  But on the other hand, we were tired and the opera, although by Rossini, was promising to be the full-length production… which in opera time, means at least 3 and a half hours.  We were convincing ourselves by saying, “Yes, we made it on time so we should go, the theatre is beautiful, the cast is fantastic and the closest world-class opera theatre to San Antonio is Houston, 4 hours away mind you, and we still drive there because we are serious opera buffs, at least most of the time.  And here… we’re already here!”

We made a tremendous effort, got dressed and drove to the opera.  I forgot to mention that the hotel we normally stay in is only 4 miles away from the Santa Fe Opera… we sort of leave out all possible excuses for us not to go!  We made it to the theatre without any trouble and took our seats.  The opera La Donna del Lago is one of the lesser-known operas by Rossini and is rarely staged.  And here we were, listening to the greatest singers of our time in Santa Fe, one of the most scenic places on the face of a planet.  When the tenor and soprano embarked on a spectacular duet in the second act, the music took on a life of its own, penetrated my soul, and suddenly I felt a spring of joy flooding my entire being and I felt absolutely and totally happy.  At that very moment our overall effort to just get there reminded me of the same dilemma I have before I go to the fitness club.  I really do not want to go, but after the exercise is over, I feel so great!

la-fitness-group-classAnd although sitting through the opera I don’t lose weight and hopefully don’t sweat to death, for the sake of my peers in the audience, I enter a different realm of existence where everything coexists in perfect harmony.  It makes me feel totally at peace with myself and the universe around me and this feeling is addictive!  I come back for more, and join the army of endorphin seekers!  Well, guess what?  It turns out that during a great opera performance or a great exercise session, our brains produce the same chemicals that are responsible for feeling happy – those magical chemicals called endorphins.  YES!  Opera and fitness do have a lot in common, they both make us feel happy and alive.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if all heavy drug users and endorphin seekers became opera addicts instead?  Our world would become too good of a place to live and the opera houses would be too crowded!  I wish for all the drug addicts and the majority of endorphin-seekers to choose fitness, and leave this lovely opera-high to me.

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