March 18, 2009 / 5:37 AM / 10 years ago

Passion for opera compared to love at first sight: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Devotees of opera find their passion for opera is like love at first sight, starting with an initial explosive emotion, according a U.S. study.

Artists perform Verdi's opera "Aida" at Cairo's Opera House January 23, 2009 in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh

Researcher Claudio Benzecry, an assistant professor of sociology from the University of Connecticut, spent the 2002 to 2005 opera seasons observing and interviewed fans attending the Colon Opera House in Buenos Aires.

He focused on the diverse middle class opera-goers on the upper, cheaper floors, especially those in the standing room, who had not been brought up to enjoy opera in his bid to find out how fans develop a passion for opera.

Benzecry said most of the interviewed fans described the intense attraction they felt the first time at the opera house as something explosive, which had intense and enduring physical effects, not dissimilar to love at first sight.

Then the learning begins, with fans taking a number of years to discover how to truly appreciate opera fully.

“Fans get hooked when they are still outsiders, before having an active apparatus to interpret the experience, or are thoroughly socialized in what constitutes the enjoyment and how they should decode it,” Benzecry said in a statement.

“Learning through interaction happens not at the beginning, as expected, but as the logical continuation that helps to shape the initial attraction.”

His study, published online in the journal Qualitative Sociology, found there were three ways in which fans learn about opera but all of these involved contact with other opera buffs.

Firstly, they learn informally as they attend operas when talking to others in door lines and intermissions.

Secondly, fans learn more formally by attending classes, lectures and conferences.

Finally fans learn appropriate behavior at the opera house from more experienced, elder fans such as when to boo or clap.

Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy

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