I bought the Bernstein recording of Bizet's Carmen this morning and I'm listening now, and it brings up an interesting issue I have to combat listening to classical music. I put on the prelude and was confronted with a piece of music that's ingrained in my mind from god knows what context, something from my childhood. It's one of those pieces of music you just know without knowing really what it is. And so it's a piece of music that, for me, simply isn't the prelude to some larger work. It's a self-standing piece of music that's connected with my childhood in an innocuous and vanilla sort of way, and I have to train myself now to hear it in a different context. I don't doubt that I'll be able to do it, but it's difficult initially.
And more generally I have to train myself to overcome my natural and unhealthy tendency to regard certain sounds as "corny" or "silly" and see them as part of a larger tradition or context. Also possible, but difficult.
Carmen's pretty good, by the way.
This is a big issue particularly if you don't have a lot of serious exposure young and only hear it in its overwrought vanilla context.