For Lakers forward Pau Gasol, there’s nothing like kicking it with his buddies Plàcido, Puccini, and Verdi. Bravo!
It seems like most NBA players are into hip-hop. How’d you catch the opera bug?
I got my first taste for it when I was younger, studying piano and classical music in Barcelona. Then when I joined the Lakers, I got a letter from Plàcido Domingo welcoming me to L.A. and inviting me to the opera, which was a huge honor.
In the locker room, do you crank up “Ride of the Valkyries” from Apocalypse Now pregame?
No, not at all! We don’t really play music in the locker room. If anyone wants to listen to music, they use their headphones. I might invite one of my teammates to the opera, though. That would be nice.
What about Kobe? He grew up in Italy, so he’d at least understand what they’re singing.Yeah, he might be open to it. But you have to remember that most operas are more than three hours long. You go to a movie that’s over two hours, and afterward you’re like, “Man, this movie is long!” Even if it’s good!
What would you take him to?
The opera that got me hooked was Tosca. And La Traviata is good because it’s not so dramatic; it’s more of a comedy. The last one I went to, last month, was Il Turco in Italia, which was really entertaining. I went with Phil Jackson.
The people sitting behind you guys must have been thrilled.
[laughs] Well, I always tell them, “Look, I’m really trying to lean to one side, and if I’m still blocking you, tap me on the shoulder and we’ll make it work.” But I still find myself sliding down in my seat the whole time. Being 7'1" is hard!