VIDEO: Opera Fan(atic)s: The Godoys' "Cable to Earth"

by Mary Hammann, violist

Pablo and Daniela Godoy grew up in a small town in Argentina, 5,165 miles from the Metropolitan Opera. Pablo recalls watching Michael Jackson on MTV and his father playing folk guitar. “We studied literature in school, but classical music was thought of as elite. We knew nothing about it.” But when Pablo saw a broadcast of The Three Tenors singing in Buenos Aires, he instantly fell in love with opera. Pavarotti, particularly, was riveting - his voice, his stage presence, and his personality. Daniela describes a similar life-changing first encounter, when a neighbor gave her a cassette tape of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. She describes the experience “as an absolute awakening.”

Pablo and Daniela fell in love as teens, and moved to New York in 1993; their first years in the city were “really tough.” They were as poor as Rodolfo and his friends in La Bohème. Making matters even more difficult, Pablo didn’t speak English. He recalls one night in those early years: They spent their precious earnings on dinner out and a CD of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. “We still treasure that Vivaldi CD. Keep in mind that we had no money - not even for the subway. This was a big splurge.” Daniela adds, “We used to look at the ads for the Met and dreamed of going there. But it seemed so impossibly opulent.” 

Pavarotti in Tosca (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Opera Archives)

Pavarotti in Tosca (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Opera Archives)

Years went by, things eased financially, and they discovered the Family Circle Standing Room. Their first opera, in celebration of Pablo’s birthday, was Don Giovanni. “It was amazing when we finally made it to the Met!” Pablo fondly remembers seeing one of Pavarotti’s last performances in Tosca at the Met. The applause for the legendary tenor’s third act aria was so intense that he sang it twice. “Seeing that was one of the pinnacles of my life. Here I came from a small town in Argentina. This was a dream I thought would never come true, but it did!” 

Eventually, they discovered the Agnes Varis Rush Tickets. Standing in line, sometimes for for four or five hours, to get tickets they could afford was well worth it. “Thanks to the rush line, we have taken our kids to the opera since they were six and eight years old,” Pablo adds. “We used to have to bribe our son with a chicken sandwich at intermission. Now they love it and say, ‘Thank you for pushing us.’”

Daniela remembers their son being too short to read the Met titles when standing. “First he’d read, and then lean toward the aisle to see the stage. My standing spot was far from his, but I could see him. When I next looked, he was kneeling on a chair so he could see both the stage and the titles. An usher had seen him straining and helped.” 

“One day at a neighborhood florist,” Pablo reminisces, “the guy working there was listening to Maria Callas. I asked if he’d ever been to the opera. He hadn’t. We got him a standing ticket and he loved it. We introduced many people to the opera, including some of our children’s teenaged friends.”

“Classical music got us through our rough days in New York City,” Daniela explains. Pablo elaborates poetically, “It was a big, big cable down to earth for us. For me, the universe is held together by music. I don’t see myself ever not going to the opera.”