I don't know if my personal prejudices about opera are wrong
because I still have those prejudices.
My vision of opera is, first of all, that it is only for rich
people -- for people who have more elite tastes. It is not
for people like me who are of middle income and who don't go to
wine tastings and modern art exhibits.
Second, my vision of opera is that you can't understand it
unless you are a music expert. I watched a show once about an
opera singers' competition and I couldn't tell the difference
between the good singers (the ones who won) and the bad one (she
said it was the worst she had ever sung).
So, I think these are pretty common conceptions of opera.
It is interesting to note that opera was begun in the streets of
Italy by the peasants--not by or for rich people.
"To be Italian is to sing," is often heard in Italy. Opera is
the expression of a people who sing their stories.
In the neighborhoods of the Lower East Side of New York in the
twentieth century, the opera was often heard and sung.
These Italian-Americans were hardly the elite, as is commonly
known. Steelworkers in Pennyslyvania listened on Saturday to
the opera, as well as other Italian blue-collar workers. The
story-lines were handed down from generation to generation.
While some ethnic groups may find little value in opera, there
are others that love it. Perhaps, then, rather than being a
matter of class, the appeal of opera seems more one of cultural
background. For, once upon a time, every Saturday there were
children of a blue-collar steelworker and an Italian mother whose
parents came to America with only the clothes on their
backs who listened to "The Barber of Seville," "Madame
Butterfly," "Aida," "Carmen," and all the other famous operas
and found magic in the music and the richly, cultured voices of the
sopranos and tenors.