Opera, possibly more than most subjects lends itself to wholly passive absorption of the subject. If you are not able to see a live performance, there are now live screened performances in cinema and of course there is a range of CDs, DVDS, and books on opera. See the full article at Sources.u3a.org.uk
While you don’t get the visual experience which you have with a DVD, CDs often have a much wider range of operas on offer. Take Verdi as an example with 28 operas to his name – fewer than half are available on DVD.
An opera group should also try to experience a range of different interpretations of the same Opera. The Metropolitan Opera of New York engaged a well-known baritone for the lead part in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and interpreted Tchaikovsky’s lively polonaise with a strip-tease.
My love of opera goes back to the age of thirteen; I was taken to see Aida at Verona – an unforgettable experience and in those days they had horses, elephants and camels on the huge stage as well as a cast of hundreds. I was hooked and opera became a major interest in my life. In those days, wealthier opera lovers bought new LPs but you could buy old 78 rpm records on market stalls for 6d or 9d!
It has prompted me to buy lots of CDs, DVDs and books over the years but that is only to feed my thirst for knowledge and so I can try and infect others with my love of the subject.