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Author Topic: Opera, anybody?  (Read 6074 times)
JK
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« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2019, 02:36:17 PM »

This topic is old (the previous post was over eight years ago!) but I need an opera topic and if there's one available, why start a new one for the two or three posts it's going to get?

This is a subject close to my heart these days thanks to a good friend many years my junior. Lucia Lucas was and still is a world-class baritone since transitioning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp9EHoL5akM

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/apr/30/don-giovanni-trans-opera-singer-lucia-lucas
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« Reply #26 on: May 03, 2019, 06:31:54 AM »

I like opera, but I went to Rigoletto this afternoon and really didn't care for it.


I may be crucified for this, but I think much of Verdi's works verge on "extremely boring".

Well, how many have you heard/seen?  He wrote over twenty, so to say that "much" of his works verge on boring means you've seen, at the very least, 14 Verdi operas, which would be, I suppose, just over half of them, depending on if we throw in the Requiem.  If you've seen 14 Verdi operas, then you're pretty hardcore, because it's mostly a handful that get the most attention.

With Verdi, I feel like there's something for everybody--Historical Dramas, Fairy Tales, Love Stories, Boston, Africa, Spain, Italy...you can travel around the world. 

I'm surprised Peter didn't like Rigoletto.  The great arias from that are almost Brian Wilson pop.  La Donna e Mobile is one of the most hummable melodies of all time, Caro Nome, Ella mi fu Rapita, Possente Amor, etc, etc--all great stuff.  But that's taste for you, I guess.

Of course, It helps when you have very good singers, which you can't always rely on.

My view of Verdi has softened since I last posted. Maybe it's because I am getting older. I dunno.  LOL (for the record, at the time I posted, I had personally attended Otello, Falstaff, MacBeth, Luisa Miller, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, and Rigoletto. I have made a point of listening to his earlier opera's lately though.  Just finished listening to Nabucco last weekend whilst Spring cleaning) Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: May 03, 2019, 10:59:32 AM »

It would be cool to tempt aeijtzsche back to this topic. Her views always make interesting reading.

I've since added Berlioz's Les Troyens to operas I enjoy, bringing that list up to a grand total of two (the other being Wozzeck). 

I once sat through Puccini's Turandot--a friend of a friend was singing in it. Let's say I survived. Grin

Actually I love orchestral music from operas. It really does help when everyone keeps their gob shut. LOL
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« Reply #28 on: May 03, 2019, 06:11:56 PM »

I used to be able to attend operas regularly , or at least live broadcasts in a local theater featuring the New York Metropolitan Opera. Occasionally I would listen on the radio.

Can't do links on my tablet but there's a commercial online - Met Texaco Commercial - that ran for many years here in the US. Showed that even out in the middle of nowhere cowboys could enjoy the opera!

Nowadays I can't get out for the theater shows, and don't have 3 plus uninterrupted hours available on Saturday afternoons to listen to the broadcasts. But I can still listen to individual arias and duets.

One of my faves is Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.
Hope you can listen to duet by Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill . Heavenly.

Also aria by Bjorling, Je Crois Entendre Encore.
And if you wish, David Gilmour (!) does a credible take on this song.
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« Reply #29 on: May 03, 2019, 08:59:51 PM »

I just got a bachelor's in voice today. Have lots of stories to tell froy experiences in the opera world. I just wrapped up a production of La Scala di Seta, an obscure Rossini opera, bell canto Italian composer as the tenor lead. Hard af music, like Handel on steroids to sing.
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« Reply #30 on: May 04, 2019, 01:30:16 AM »

I used to be able to attend operas regularly , or at least live broadcasts in a local theater featuring the New York Metropolitan Opera. Occasionally I would listen on the radio.

Can't do links on my tablet but there's a commercial online - Met Texaco Commercial - that ran for many years here in the US. Showed that even out in the middle of nowhere cowboys could enjoy the opera!

Nowadays I can't get out for the theater shows, and don't have 3 plus uninterrupted hours available on Saturday afternoons to listen to the broadcasts. But I can still listen to individual arias and duets.

One of my faves is Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.
Hope you can listen to duet by Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill . Heavenly.

Also aria by Bjorling, Je Crois Entendre Encore.
And if you wish, David Gilmour (!) does a credible take on this song.

Just a few posts into this revived topic and true to form I've already insulted at least two posters with one of my famous sweeping statements. LOL I'm so very sorry, folks.

Glad to see you around again, Lizzie. Smiley

Is this the commercial you mean? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCHx1RG4fPA

And here are Björling and Merrill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PYt2HlBuyI

Now I think of it, this duet is a favourite of my wife's. I must admit it sounds very classy. You may convert this philistine yet. Grin
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« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2019, 01:39:02 AM »

I just got a bachelor's in voice today. Have lots of stories to tell froy experiences in the opera world. I just wrapped up a production of La Scala di Seta, an obscure Rossini opera, bell canto Italian composer as the tenor lead. Hard af music, like Handel on steroids to sing.

Congrats, FHCS.  Wow. Roll Eyes

Is The Silken Ladder obscure? I know and love the Overture (Rossini overtures are wonderfully uplifting):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRjm0dkLO3k

I for one would love to hear about your experiences in the opera world, so please feel free! Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: May 04, 2019, 02:05:29 PM »

I also love instrumental music in operas. Carmen is particularly great.
And vocal selections are packaged as instrumentals to be performed in symphony concerts. One of my favorites is Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" from his opera Peter Grimes.
 "Dawn" gave me goosebumps.
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« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2019, 03:35:32 PM »

I also love instrumental music in operas. Carmen is particularly great.
And vocal selections are packaged as instrumentals to be performed in symphony concerts. One of my favorites is Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" from his opera Peter Grimes.
 "Dawn" gave me goosebumps.

Wow. I heard a live performance of the Britten "Interludes" only last week! What a brooding, ominous picture they paint. You just know disaster is going to strike. Yes, those menacing brass chords in "Dawn"! Roll Eyes

Here are all four interludes under Paavo Järvi:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTd2aXLTA84

It took me literally decades to catch onto old Benjy Britt. In the end it was "my" choir's rehearsals and performance of his Hymn to St Cecilia that converted me.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Grimes
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« Reply #34 on: October 17, 2019, 05:12:27 AM »

When in St. Petersburg we checked out the places where Shostakovich and Gogol lived. Gogol wrote his short story The Nose at the address in the picture. The name of the bar now on those premises seems to be a comment on that outrageous tale. LOL



And Shosty wrote an opera based on Gogol's story at Ulitsa Marata 9 (with a great restaurant a little further up). I've given the whole thing a listen over the past couple of days and it's equally outrageous!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzqRJSn0g6A

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nose_(opera)
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« Reply #35 on: October 23, 2019, 08:33:52 AM »

Gah!!!! Too much work and too little time to craft decent posts! Anyway... Two weeks ago (to the day) in St. Petersburg we attended a performance of Prokofiev's opera Betrothal in a Monastery at the Mariinski Theatre. A dream come true, you might say--that theatre is the home base of our favourite conductor Valery Gergiev. Here he is conducting the entire work but not onstage--what a studio version lacks in atmosphere it gains in audio quality:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZalX4-wRcA&list=OLAK5uy_lmCH42IIBHE0O8owOor0CTluU7k5Vp88Y      

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrothal_in_a_Monastery

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« Reply #36 on: October 23, 2019, 09:50:16 AM »

Oh, look at all this...
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« Reply #37 on: October 23, 2019, 10:45:46 AM »

Oh, look at all this...

What are you trying to say? Smokin

I do know you didn't have particularly high hopes for this thread a while back. Grin
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« Reply #38 on: October 23, 2019, 11:38:58 AM »

I saw Boris Godunov at that theater back in September 1991.
I remember it as a wonderful opera - what I saw of it. We were staying at a hostel that was unheated . It was so cold that I pretty much had to wear everything I had to get warm, and got very little sleep.
The theater was very comfortable temperature wise, and I fell into a half sleep about half way through the opera. I could hear the music but the plot in my half dream was quite different from the actual plot. Just hope I didn't snore!  Grin
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« Reply #39 on: October 23, 2019, 11:47:52 AM »

Oh, look at all this...

What are you trying to say? Smokin

I do know you didn't have particularly high hopes for this thread a while back. Grin

I'm happy that there's been some more discussion!!!  Which I will respond to by and by!
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« Reply #40 on: October 23, 2019, 12:27:55 PM »

Oh, look at all this...

What are you trying to say? Smokin

I do know you didn't have particularly high hopes for this thread a while back. Grin

I'm happy that there's been some more discussion!!!  Which I will respond to by and by!

Looking forward to that, JH.

I love a lot of the instrumental music in operas, particularly by the Russians and Wagner, and I love many overtures of all nationalities but I've never been a great fan of operatic singing.

The two major exceptions are Berg's Wozzeck and Berlioz's Les Troyens. And l'm beginning to warm to the Russians, thanks to maestro Gergiev--they have fantastic singing voices! So there's hope for me yet. Wink
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« Reply #41 on: October 23, 2019, 12:44:26 PM »

I saw Boris Godunov at that theater back in September 1991. I remember it as a wonderful opera - what I saw of it.

Wow! I can imagine that was spectacular beyond belief. Was it under Valery Gergiev? I can only assume he was the theatre's conductor by then, as a young man with all his hair. Tongue

Quote
We were staying at a hostel that was unheated . It was so cold that I pretty much had to wear everything I had to get warm, and got very little sleep.

Oooff!! Poor you. Conditions seem to have changed since then. Contrary to what we were told, we found Pete to be a warm, friendly place where everyone was helpful even if they only spoke Russian. The hotel was splendid and so were the restaurants and bars we visited. 
 
Quote
The theater was very comfortable temperature wise, and I fell into a half sleep about half way through the opera. I could hear the music but the plot in my half dream was quite different from the actual plot. Just hope I didn't snore!  Grin

We have a Gergiev comp with a slab of Boris on it, the "Coronation Scene" I think, with bells clanging like crazy. Truly wonderful stuff. And I had this cheapo LP of selections from Boris when I was a kid. I've always loved Mussorgsky.
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« Reply #42 on: October 23, 2019, 02:59:16 PM »

I don't recall who was leading it back then, but it was an absolutely spectacular production. I was quite upset for falling asleep - it surely wasn't because it wasn't wonderful.
St Petersburg was a great place and everyone was quite friendly. All the places were properly heated except that hostel we stayed at.
It was a time of flux - there had been an attempted coup earlier that month. Lots of rumors going on, and I was glad to have brought my little shortwave radio with me so that I could pick up BBC World Service. It was exciting as well. We arrived in Leningrad at night and the next day it once again became St Petersburg.
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« Reply #43 on: October 24, 2019, 03:16:45 AM »

I don't recall who was leading it back then, but it was an absolutely spectacular production. I was quite upset for falling asleep - it surely wasn't because it wasn't wonderful.
St Petersburg was a great place and everyone was quite friendly. All the places were properly heated except that hostel we stayed at.
It was a time of flux - there had been an attempted coup earlier that month. Lots of rumors going on, and I was glad to have brought my little shortwave radio with me so that I could pick up BBC World Service. It was exciting as well. We arrived in Leningrad at night and the next day it once again became St Petersburg.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time!! I found a version of Boris from the previous year (1990), conducted by Valery Gergiev (and I read elsewhere that he conducted the performance you attended):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFeO8b64EaQ

   
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« Reply #44 on: October 24, 2019, 04:55:18 AM »

Oh wow, thanks!! I'll finally get to be able to see the whole thing lol.
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« Reply #45 on: October 24, 2019, 10:15:02 PM »

Oh, look at all this...

What are you trying to say? Smokin

I do know you didn't have particularly high hopes for this thread a while back. Grin

I'm happy that there's been some more discussion!!!  Which I will respond to by and by!

Looking forward to that, JH.

I love a lot of the instrumental music in operas, particularly by the Russians and Wagner, and I love many overtures of all nationalities but I've never been a great fan of operatic singing.

The two major exceptions are Berg's Wozzeck and Berlioz's Les Troyens. And l'm beginning to warm to the Russians, thanks to maestro Gergiev--they have fantastic singing voices! So there's hope for me yet. Wink


I'm curious what it is about the singing involved in Wozzeck, Troyens, and Russian stuff that separates it from other stuff that you don't like?  I think that's really interesting.

Also, part of what I am trying to do is translate some of the magic moments from opera that have moved me, from a medium that many people just can't get into to one that is more familiar.  Because operatic singing is definitely a hurdle for a lot of people, and I get why.

In addition to the overtures I'm doing, I'm also recording the entirety of Handel's Rodelinda, and hoping to sing a lot of it, or get helpers for the lower and higher voices, to sing it in a less classical and more pop way--not to dilute, but to present in a different way, so that I might proselytize on behalf of the music that I love the most--and ultimately the music itself is more important that how it's done (as long as it's done well.)

I just got a bachelor's in voice today. Have lots of stories to tell froy experiences in the opera world. I just wrapped up a production of La Scala di Seta, an obscure Rossini opera, bell canto Italian composer as the tenor lead. Hard af music, like Handel on steroids to sing.


Well knock me down with a feather.  That is unbelievable.  I love a Rossini tenor, especially when they sing Bellini, but you know, whatever.  Congrats, a bit late.
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« Reply #46 on: October 24, 2019, 10:18:41 PM »

I don't recall who was leading it back then, but it was an absolutely spectacular production. I was quite upset for falling asleep - it surely wasn't because it wasn't wonderful.
St Petersburg was a great place and everyone was quite friendly. All the places were properly heated except that hostel we stayed at.
It was a time of flux - there had been an attempted coup earlier that month. Lots of rumors going on, and I was glad to have brought my little shortwave radio with me so that I could pick up BBC World Service. It was exciting as well. We arrived in Leningrad at night and the next day it once again became St Petersburg.

Sort of not topical, but I recently read a great book by Masha Gessen, The Future is History, which portrays the break up of the CCCP in a very, very personal and intimate way, including the episode of the strange coup attempt to which you were temporally adjacent.  I can't imagine that tumult doesn't still play itself out in the artistic hearts of the Russian people and become made manifest on the operatic stage in some way!
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« Reply #47 on: October 25, 2019, 02:42:25 AM »

I'm curious what it is about the singing involved in Wozzeck, Troyens, and Russian stuff that separates it from other stuff that you don't like?  I think that's really interesting.

Oooff! Putting questions of taste into words is never easy...

It's not just the singing. For me, Wozzeck is all about the music as a whole--the singing in effect comes second. It's music that really speaks to me--I love Berg's Violin Concerto as well (and no, I have no interest at all in delving into other atonal/twelve-tone operas). Berlioz's music is like nothing else in "classical" music. It really helps that he couldn't play the piano! And Les Troyens is his biggest canvas. I love the story behind it and the barbaric picture he paints. As for the Russians, their singing has a special strength that appeals to me. Besides, I have an affinity with the sadness infusing so much of their music and with the orchestral colour.

As an aside, there may be a parallel here with my thoughts on pop music. Once the lyrics become more important than the music (much rap, many protest songs and ballads) I'm out of there.     

Your question also got me thinking about what it is that generally bugs me about opera. It can't just be the fact that the orchestra is stuffed into a pit for the sake of a few people on stage. That said, the few concertante versions of operas I've attended were much more satisfying, maybe because there is no hierarchy--everyone's there on stage in an equal capacity (and in full view).     

I love a lot of choral music of all eras and the longer works in partlcular often feature solo singers and I have no problem with these (Berlioz's Les Nuits d'été is another case in point.) So, one factor may be the action. It would tie in with my lack of affinity with plays. 

Quote
Also, part of what I am trying to do is translate some of the magic moments from opera that have moved me, from a medium that many people just can't get into to one that is more familiar.  Because operatic singing is definitely a hurdle for a lot of people, and I get why.

In addition to the overtures I'm doing, I'm also recording the entirety of Handel's Rodelinda, and hoping to sing a lot of it, or get helpers for the lower and higher voices, to sing it in a less classical and more pop way--not to dilute, but to present in a different way, so that I might proselytize on behalf of the music that I love the most--and ultimately the music itself is more important that how it's done (as long as it's done well.)

Goodness. I was planning to buy that album on Bandcamp today but from what you say I wouldn't have been buying much! (I missed that "TBD".) So it's another work in progress (read: labour of love). Please keep us informed about that too. 

Quote
Well knock me down with a feather.  That is unbelievable.  I love a Rossini tenor, especially when they sing Bellini, but you know, whatever.  Congrats, a bit late.

Pity FHCS never expanded on his operatic achievements as well as his tastes in opera. That would have helped this thread no end.

As for Bellini,  we attended a performance of his La sonnambula in Palermo years ago. That was an amazing experience. There were shouts of approval throughout ("Bravissimo!") and a few Don Corleone lookalikes in the audience. So yes, context can be a major factor!!

Sorry, long rambly post. Grin
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« Reply #48 on: October 26, 2019, 01:41:38 PM »

This is a scene from Alban Berg's Wozzeck, in the version I bought in the 1960s (see below). Regrettably I can't find a decent libretto online. 

Act Two, Scene 5: The guard-room at the barracks. Night. The sound of sleeping soldiers (an extraordinary choral effect). Wozzeck is lying in the barracks on a bunk with his friend Andre and can't sleep, the music from that evening's dance still playing in his head. He is obsessed with the image of Marie (the mother of his child) in the arms of the Drum Major.  Even saying a prayer doesn't help. Suddenly the Drum Major crashes in drunk. He boasts to Wozzeck of his manliness and of Marie’s charms, which he has enjoyed (he had seduced her outside her house the evening before). He then beats up Wozzeck while the others look on. The Drum Major leaves and silence return to the barracks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wozb37GfvOk



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wozzeck
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« Reply #49 on: October 26, 2019, 03:47:52 PM »

I've never seen Wozzeck. It's on the Metropolitan Opera schedule - live performance to be seen in theaters nationwide in U.S. in February. Will do my best to catch it.
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"No White Flags." - Team Gleason

"(Brian) got into this really touching music with songs like 'In My Room', and 'Good Vibrations' was amazing. The melodies are so beautiful, almost perfect. I began to realize he was one of the most gifted writers of our generation." - Paul Simon

 "The best thing you can be 'like' in music is yourself." Dr. John
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