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Opera Buffs I have a question for you.

 
 
Swimpy
 
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 06:20 pm
I know nothing about opera but would like to learn. What recordings would you recommend to a novice?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 5,203 • Replies: 50
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hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 06:44 pm
while we are not opera BUFFS , we do enjoy some of the lighter opera music .
last friday the music department at queen's university here in kingston had their ANNUAL GALA CONCERT .
it's part of the annual winter/spring concerts put on by students and faculty .

here are some of the pieces they performed :
CARMEN - OVERTURE , TOREADOR SONG ,
DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT - AH , MES AMIS !
MOZART - COSI FAN TUTTI - SOAVE SIA EL VENTO ,
LA FORZA L DESTINO - OVERTURE ,
JEWEL SONG FROM FAUST ,
FLOWER DUET FROM LAKME ,
NESSUN DORMA FROM TURANDOT ,
and ending with :
BRINDISI FROM LA TRAVIATA

for good measure they also performed pieces from :
A CHORUS LINE , THE LION KING , SOUTH PACIFIC and CABARET .

all in all very enjoyable - and only $10 for three hours of good entertainment !

i'd suggest you visit your local library and just borrow a stack of cd's and find out what you like .
start with some light and easy stuff .
and simply enjoy !
hbg
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 07:02 pm
I'm a minor buff, it was better than the ballets I had to watch over and over again because of my mother's profession. The NY Met has issued many of their complete operas on DVD, like movies, complete with subtitles. I enjoy the visuals more than some of the singing and I like to know what is going on no despite my inability to speak the language. I think seeing the performance is a much better experience than just listening. Opera is meant to be spectacle. You can probably find some used disks on Amazon, Ebay or Half.com.
0 Replies
 
Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 07:49 pm
Thanks, hbg. That's a good suggestion.

Green Witch, which are your favorites?
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 07:55 pm
I'm a minor buff... know what I like and not good at explaining why.
Back in a bit.
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Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 08:37 pm
Swimpy wrote:
Thanks, hbg. That's a good suggestion.

Green Witch, which are your favorites?


Mozart: The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni
Rossini: Barber of Seville
Verdi: Falstaff, Rigoletto
Smetana: The Bartered Bride
Puccini: Tosca
Wagner: The Ring Cycle (yeah, all 9 hours of it), but only when it's done in full production with Hollywood staging and performed over three nights. I also remember liking "Parsifal", but I haven't heard (nor seen) it in many years.

I'm not a big fan of operas where someone coughs to death, but other people love them.

I also like the occasional Gilbert & Sullivan, if it's the height of summer and I'm watching on a lawn with a big picnic basket. I think I know all the words to "The Mikado".

If someone tries to get you to "Nixon In China" - run, run away. I also didn't care for the recent production of "The Great Gatsby", it's in English and I wanted to love it, but it was a disappointment. My husband says I slept through 20 minutes of it, but I didn't notice.
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 08:56 pm
Re: Opera Buffs I have a question for you.
Swimpy wrote:
I know nothing about opera but would like to learn. What recordings would you recommend to a novice?


Well, what have you heard that you've liked? You might want to start with highlight CDs, they'll feature the most popular parts of an opera like the arias, duets, choruses, etc. and leave out the recitative, the dialogue and narrative sections of an opera.

The repertoire is enormous starting way back with the Baroque Period. Check out "Dido's Lament" from Henry Purcell's Dido & Aeneas. Mozart wrote some of the most famous operas like The Abduction from the Seraglio (the final chorus "Never will I thy kindness forget")
, The Marriage of Figaro ("canzonetta sull'aria" is a beautiful duet), The Magic Flute (there are so many great pieces).

Check out Léo Delibes' Lakmé, and the duet "Viens, Mallika" the so called "Flower Duet." Mady Mesplé and Danielle Millet's interpretation is the standard by which all others are to be compared, IMO.

And then there are the Italians. There are, of course, the warhorses by Giacomo Puccini, Madama Butterfly; Pietro Mascagni, Cavaleria Rusticana; Ruggero Leoncavallo, Pagliacci. But there are many more lesser known composers like Gaetano Donizetti, check out L'elisir d'amore, and the aria "una furtiva lacrima".
The list goes on, and on. . .
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Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 09:57 pm
I'll offer a few suggestions later when I have more time, but I would preliminarily recommend that you not restrict yourself to recordings; since roughly half of opera is the visual element, I would do the bulk of your exploration through videos and live performances.

More later....
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Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 10:52 pm
Quote:
Well, what have you heard that you've liked?


Well, I have to admit not much. When Pavorati died I listened to some of his stuff on YouTube. I was moved. I really feel like my music education has a big hole in it. What can I say? I'm a rock and roll chick.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 10:54 pm
Swimpy wrote:
Quote:
Well, what have you heard that you've liked?


Well, I have to admit not much. When Pavorati died I listened to some of his stuff on YouTube. I was moved. I really feel like my music education has a big hole in it. What can I say? I'm a rock and roll chick.


Maybe you should start with "Jesus Christ Superstar".
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 11:48 pm
Hey, how about starting with movies that have opera in it? I liked the movie Salighieri, which has some outstanding performances in it (as far as I remember)...and is a good movie too.

There is also a great scene in Life Is Beautiful -- there's a scene from the opera (which becomes a theme throughout the movie) from Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann - Barcarola.... I fell in love with it instantly.

And I fell in love with Mozart's Requiem when watching Amadeus....It's not a sophisticated system and I still know very little...but that's how I find what I like, then I go, find a CD and give it a closer listen.
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hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 11:39 am
we enjoy ROSSINI - THE BARBER OF SEVILLE
we saw it last year , performed by students from school of music at queen's u - very well done - fresh voices - will be seeing it in toronto in april

http://youtube.com/watch?v=-OXQclRyL78

we saw CARMEN at the volksoper in vienna - another favourite

http://youtube.com/watch?v=jYw_d4isSeY

NOT an opera - but smashing music imo
DIE FLEDERMAUS - THE BAT
we've seen it in NYC and vienna

http://youtube.com/watch?v=l6uEmtn56M0

and you can hardly go wrong with MOZART'S "COSI FAN TUTTE"

http://youtube.com/watch?v=fjO1IjHxxgQ

(i'll better stop now or i'll be watching youtube all afternoon Very Happy hbg)
0 Replies
 
Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 12:28 pm
Puccini's Turandot, performed at the Met under James Levine

Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites, done in a very stark and minimalist but moving production at the National Rhine Opera

Wagner's Die Walküre, in one of its definitive productions under James Levine and the Met. Of the four operas that make up the Ring Cycle, Die Walküre is the most frequently performed and generally considered the most audience-friendly. Despite the "misgivings" attached (not without reason) to Wagner's name, the Ring Cycle is at least worth trying. Assuming the questionable politics behind the whole Wagnerian enterprise doesn't bother you, getting lost in the mythical world of the Ring, and especially in the sound of the Wagnerian orchestra, is one of the great experiences one can have in opera.

Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen at the Théâtre de Châtelet under Charles Mackerras. It's a strange opera that can drag on at times if you're expecting a coherent "plot," but it's got wonderful music.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 12:47 pm
Two movie Carmens...


A2K amazon link to the movie with Domingo and Migenes Johnson (expensive, might be on Netflix..)


Carlos Saura's Flamenco Trilogy - the middle film is Carmen
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Letty
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 12:52 pm
Swimp, although this recording is a bit tinny, Enrico Caruso, to me, was the greatest tenor of all times. Seek out librettos of the operas. That helps.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGwzduLUHF0
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hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 01:32 pm
if you can catch BEN HEPPNER , you'll have a treat awaiting you !
we heard him in toronto some years ago and again last year here in kingston .
he was "singing for his supper" at the university who had bestowed an honorary degree upon him .
he is a BEAR of a man , a great singer but also a funny entertainer - which he showed at the open concert at the university - he had us in stitches .
hbg

http://youtube.com/watch?v=FPAgTnmGF5Y

Quote:
Ben Heppner, OC (born January 14, 1956) is a Canadian tenor, specializing in opera and classical symphonic works for voice.

Heppner was born in Murrayville, British Columbia, and lived in Dawson Creek. He began his musical studies at the University of British Columbia and first attracted national attention when he won the CBC Talent Festival in 1979. Since then, he has gone on to become one of the most prominent dramatic tenors active today. He has come to be associated particularly with the Wagner repertoire, but he performs a wide range of works.

Heppner performs frequently with major opera companies in the United States and Europe, as well as concert appearances with major symphony orchestras. He has made DVDs of the Metropolitan Opera's productions Beethoven's Fidelio and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, two of his signature roles. He first performed Tristan with the Seattle Opera in 1998. He relishes the most challenging roles, including Tristan, Lohengrin, Otello, and Berlioz's Aeneas.

Heppner has recorded widely on many labels, both solo albums and operatic repertoire. He is currently signed to an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon (DG). His first solo recording for DG recorded in 2001 was Airs français, which won a Juno Award.

Heppner has received Honorary Doctorates from Queen's University (2006), McMaster Divinity College (2005), York University (2003), Memorial University of Newfoundland (2003), University of Toronto (2002), McGill University (2002), and University of British Columbia (1997).

In 1988 he won the Birgit Nilsson Prize. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1999, and was promoted to Officer in 2000.
0 Replies
 
Gala
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 01:37 pm
Are you interested in the sound or the story line?

Because Arias are a good place to start and there are some notable performers who will get you hooked.
0 Replies
 
Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 06:18 pm
I think you've hit it, Gala. I just picked up a cd set called The A to Z of Opera. http://www.amazon.com/Z-Opera-762-page-booklet/dp/B00004YYRR/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1202948037&sr=8-1

I'm hoping for a good overview so I can narrow my focus.

Thanks everyone for your help.
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 06:20 pm
happy listening , swimpy !
will you be recording your own voice on youtube soon ? :wink:
hbg
0 Replies
 
Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 06:24 pm
hamburger wrote:
happy listening , swimpy !
will you be recording your own voice on youtube soon ? :wink:
hbg


I kinda doubt it :wink:
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