For those who don't like to read libretti...
I find the characters come to life more vividly when I know what they are actually saying. But if you prefer to listen to opera only as a purely aural experience, I say "Go for it!" The more people who enjoy opera the better. It doesn't matter how or why you do, just that you do.
Maria Callas was one of the first sopranos I ever heard and the idea of listening to this superb artist without knowing the words the character is saying will cause you to miss so many of the marvelous, almost miraculous, things she does textually. But, in Callas' case, text and music are so intertwined that they are not separated in her art. The thrilling things she does musically are driven by the character's emotions and are word specific.
I first heard a Callas recording (the Coloratura/Lyric) album when I was fifteen and, fifty plus years later, I still can't get enough of her!
Shortly after, I discovered Renata Tebaldi, and a lifelong love for her voice and art began, still in fervent place today. Not for me the then contemporary "feud" between the two ladies! In truth, I never understood why the fans, and not a few critics, took such a divisive position where the singers were concerned. Why deprive yourself of two such wondrous vocal feasts?
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