Well, when you think about it, the Pretty Woman
quotation is rather jejeune. "Peoples reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic. They either love it or they hate it. If they love it they will always love it. If they don't, they may learn to appreciate it - but it will never become part of their soul." Or, in other words, you either love it or you don't, and if you don't you might eventually learn to like it. That's not a terribly brilliant insight. The same could be said of broccoli or stock car racing or one's mother-in-law.
Of course people can learn to appreciate opera. Tastes change over time, times change, people change. Back in the '30s and '40s, it was still possible to make fun of the opera in movies (A Night at the Opera
) and cartoons (What's Opera, Doc?
) because people were actually familiar with opera (you don't poke fun at something unfamiliar -- how many comedies have been made about French deconstructionism?). Now, not so much. But that might change. I think I read somewhere that the US has more opera companies now than it did fifty years ago -- it certainly wouldn't surprise me if that were true. And if people start looking at popular stage works as operas rather than as musicals, then it might lead to a greater popular appreciation of the genre. Or then again, maybe not.