The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Can music provide a kick as big or as good as drugs? The Ear says it depends on the drug and the music. But NPR blogger Tom Huizenga and some others think so. What do you think? Check out The Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” production of “Maria Stuarda” today. | January 19, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is another Metropolitan Opera “Live in Hi Def” broadcast to movie theaters (at 11:55 a.m. CST at the Eastgate and Point cinemas in Madison).

The opera is Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda” with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in the title role (below and at the bottom in a YouTube video of a previous production).

Here is a link with program notes and other information about the 3 hour and 15 minute production:


It has gotten good reviews. But none was better than the comments by Tom Huizenga (below), the director of and writer for NPR’s outstanding Deceptive Cadence” blog and some its readers. (Be sure to read the comments.)


Huizenga compared the jolt he got during the production to the ecstasy of some drugs.

Well, music and opera are sure a lot healthier ways to get high, if a bit less intense.

But you can decide for yourself.

Read his remarks.

Then please offer an opinion plus any examples of classical music when you too were taken by music, carried away as if by drugs. Was it the piece? The performer? Special or personal circumstances you found yourself in?

Did you get a “sonic high,” if you will.

Here is a link to Huizenga’s posting:

1 Comment »

  1. Here is an account of my singular experience. A friend was in the UW Symphony, as a percussionist. I went to the concert. He played cymbals in the opening piece, Daphnis and Chloe Suite. The 2nd piece was Brahms 1st Symphony. From the first notes, I was somehow seized by the music as if it had grasped my consciousness in a tight grip. I sat, aurally transfixed, eyes closed, and my mind’s ear perceiving each musical gesture as if it had been designed just for me, right then and there.
    This level of concentration and attention was completely unexpected, and has never presented itself to me since.
    Having entirely too much experience with recreational drugs and alcohol as a youth, I can tell you that this experience was both powerful, unforgettable, and without any negative effects. How to get it again, well, that is a question I ask myself each time I attend a concert.
    No foolin’ here, this was really a singular and almost magical listening experience. I have been in an alpha brain wave state while listening to recordings, but never seized and possessed by live music as I was for this unique experience. MBB

    Comment by Michael BB — January 19, 2013 @ 12:49 am

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