Lessons from Opera – Passion and the High Output Life

Two nights ago, I got to hang with the cool kids. Bloggers, artists, and social media influencers. Tempo (Young Professionals Group) movers and shakers gathered to preview The Minnesota Opera’s superb new offering, The Elixir of Love. Hushed and awestruck, we were ushered backstage to witness the weeks of behind-the-scenes high output work plied by 197 people devoted to telling a story that’s captivated audiences since the 1840’s.

It’s a good story. A story of a hero with a passion so encompassing that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Wiling to tell the truth, to try new things, to play full on, to play the fool, to take a risk, to reveal the fullness of his heart. In the audience, we clicked and tweeted and laughed and opined and collectively decided: we loved it.


A moment of passion perfectly captured by Lee Blauersouth
of Studio Interrobang.

I’ve been love struck by the opera for decades, having been drafted into The Arizona Opera after dabbling in the music department in college in between classes and chasing boys. (If you’ve heard one of my keynotes, you know how that story goes…grin!)


Back in the day. Backstage. My heart aflutter.
Elixir of Love opening night.
The Arizona Opera 1990-91 season.

What struck me most about the dress rehearsal of Elixir of Love is the high output everyone brought. Much of the time, people “mark” in rehearsal, singing at half-voice and going through the motions with intention, saving it up for opening night. Not this cast. These performers brought it. All of it. Every note and nuance. Every gesture and genuine inflection. Every ounce of operatic passion. They made me laugh and they made me weep.

And they made me think:
Performers bring it. What would happen if we all brought our full-on opening-night performance to our everyday way of being? What if we were willing to commit to a high output life?

Tonight, Elixir of Love opens. If you are anywhere near, go. Go and laugh at the happiest opera ever written. Cry at the tender parts. Give them the standing ovation you will assuredly decide they deserve.

And think:
What does your full-on opening-night high output life look like?

And if you can’t go, watch this heart-wrenchingly beautiful rendition of Una furtiva lagrima by the wildly talented tenor Leonardo Capalbo. Give yourself permission to feel why opera has centuries-long longevity. Passion, people.  It’s the passion of performance.





  • Michael Rennert (Captain) says:

    A very nice, challenging statement. motivating even. I liked the way you put life and art together. It makes me want to live my life with more “high energy” and bring the best out of myself every day now, not in an acting sort of way, but in my real life for myself and others around me.

    • Thanks for your note, Michael! I find the days when I take time to mix art and work and life all together are the best days. A high output life is work, to be certain, and certainly worth it. I appreciate your perspective on the impact our authentic energy has on others. You get it!