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  • Sam Darling

Opera and kung-fu training

Let us consider the usual story arc of the Kung-fu Hero.


Countless hours of practice to make your body achieve inhuman feats… no way she’s going to connect Kung-fu to opera, of all things.

An individual with some natural talent wanders on their own for a time. They face bad guys and get a frequent beat down, but still demonstrate a certain amount of moxie in facing their enemy. Perhaps even bordering on hubris/chutzpah.

Our nascent hero seeks out a Master, or stumbles on to the path, and is discovered to have the potential for greatness.

The Master puts the neophyte through humiliating rigors of rehearsal… I mean training. The body is reshaped through countless hours of practice. Muscle memory is instilled by repetition. The neophyte feels no progress is being made. It’s the “wax on / wax off” part of the process. Repetition. Repetition. Boring. Repetition.


The neophyte totally sucks. They make endless mistakes. They are constantly exhausted and humiliated and tempted to quit because what is the point of learning this ancient art? Any asshat with a microphone and auto-tune… I mean a gun and other modern methods of battle will be able to kick your ass.

Total strangers will beat them at audition after aud… I mean, battle after battle. But they never quit.

Even when everything seems darkest they keep that internal motivation and that moxie quality is the thing the Master recognized. The spark of bloody-mindedness is the key to greatness. It’s not how good you are when you start out, it’s how hard you’re willing to work to improve. The Master is busy. S/he has better things to do than to train someone who will quit on them when the going gets tough.

[As an aside: Luke Skywalker is a Kung-fu trainee and Yoda is his Master. But you already knew that.]

Eventually, the opera singer will have the ability to make sound with their body that no mere mortal can replicate without similar years of practice. S/he has the training and muscle memory that allows them to reach loftier heights of sound than almost anyone else on the planet. [Lately, I feel like I sound like an ambulance siren. But in a good way.]

But none of it happens without the grueling training montage. [Unfortunately, in real life, you can’t elapse time.]

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