A day at the opera?

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

We all have guilty pleasures — things we secretly enjoy but don't have the courage to admit to long-term care colleagues at stand-up.  

For me in college, it was Barry Manilow. 

Now? It's opera. 

There's just something about those over-the-top, archetypal storylines, elaborate costumes and unabashed emotions — the way every word and action is such a big deal, and everything is communicated with huge gestures and loud voices. The unbridled passion! The endless drama! Opera is the antithesis of being Canadian and I can't seem to get enough.

It's also starkly opposite to our typical work lives, and perhaps that's another reason I'm drawn to it. We're supposed to be measured and poised, quietly calculating, keeping our cards and motives close to our chests and our emotions in check. Those might be critical traits for survival at corporate headquarters or in a bustling nursing home — but they'd make for boring, sometimes soul-numbing theater. 

So maybe we need to bring a little opera singer mentality into our somewhat staid profession. Wouldn't it be great to go to work completely unfettered and unabashed — wearing our emotions proudly, weeping without embarrassment, laughing a little too loud, strutting around taking obvious pleasure in jobs well done? 

Maybe despite its reputation for corny melodrama, opera is actually closer to the kind of vivid, emotionally unshackled lives we need to live more often. Because if Giuseppe Verdi were telling our story, it wouldn't include an aria about reimbursement changes or the MDS manual. It would be all about the super-charged joy and heart-breaking pain of the work we do.

When “Long-Term Care: The Opera” comes to town, I'll be first in line. It will be the perfect blending of guilty pleasure and life-affirming extravagance. With or without Barry Manilow, of course.