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Opera Buffs I have a question for you.

 
 
ossobuco
 
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Reply Thu 14 Feb, 2008 04:54 pm
One of my girlfriends - those long on a2k have heard me go on about the smartass group, known by ourselves as SAG - worked at an agency that 'handled' opera singers. Stories... though mostly she was quiet about all that, she did murmur a story or two long after such employment, stuff known already but with more delicious texture when she told it.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Feb, 2008 08:09 pm
No one here has mentioned Claudio Monteverdi. He wrote some of the earliest operas, and in fact, is considered by many to be the father of the opera, as we know the form. One of the other members wrote earlier about the forms of composition and exposition within opera, and how they have changed and how they have been used by various composers. Monteverdi created the tradition of the dramma per musica , the muscial drama, upon which "grand opera" is based. His works remain "fresh" to day, and L'Orfeo (debuted 1607) continues to be regularly performed. I was fortunate enough to have seen a production of L'incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea--she was the second wife of the Emperor Nero) by Opera Atelier in Toronto, with the Taffelmusik Baroque Period Instruments orchestra performing the score.

Monteverdi may not have written the best operas which have come down to us, but just as Haydn took the sinfonia concertante and created the modern symphony, so Monteverdi took the now obscure Renaissance musical form known as monody, and created from it the rich tapestry which is modern opera. He is worth a look just so see where the modern opera came from, and how far it has come.
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Swimpy
 
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Reply Sat 16 Feb, 2008 09:39 am
I did not know that, Set. Monteverdi's Sinfonia & Ecco pur ch'a voi from L'Orfeo is the first selection on my A to Z of Opera CD. I found this timeline http://www.edinboro.edu/CWIS/Music/Cordell/Timeline-op-comp.html

BTW, I've been lost in opraland (not Opryland) for the past four days or so. I can't understand why I never got into it before.
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Shapeless
 
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Reply Sat 16 Feb, 2008 11:30 am
I checked out Amazon and found this highly-rated book:

Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera

I can't say I have any experience with the book myself, but it seems to do all the right things.

I also perused the "A-Z Opera" selection and it looks to be a pretty good collection, but I heartily encourage you to go beyond what it offers, especially since the collection ends, chronologically speaking, in 1926. (Perhaps the booklet has some suggestions for further listening?) Several post-1930 operas have been mentioned in the previous pages, and many of them are not only perfectly accessible, in spite of the reputation that 20th century music has (deservedly) earned, but also more-than-worthy "bearers of the operatic tradition." (One frequent "cocktail party conversation" among opera buffs is deciding what is the last opera, chronologically speaking, that can certifiably be said to be part of "the performing canon.") The timeline that you mentioned offers several good places to start.

Happy listening!
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Swimpy
 
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Reply Sat 16 Feb, 2008 12:47 pm
Thanks, shapeless. I've learned a lot already and am having a great time. I'll see if myu local library has that book or something similar. I think I'm ready to peruse the opera collection there as well.
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Gala
 
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Reply Wed 7 May, 2008 08:23 am
Here's one of my favorites from Cosi Fan Tutti-- Hand it to the Germans to come up with the scenery, etc. I love this tune...Sento Dio

http://youtube.com/watch?v=pP0BH6o1HWk
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Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 May, 2008 11:48 pm
Some lovely tunes in Cosi fan tutti, no doubt about it... but it's hard for me to get over the obnoxiousness of the story.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 May, 2008 03:57 am
I have never been a fan of opera, but love concert works. A few months ago, I discovered Robert Greenberg, a music teacher extrordinaire, and am completely hooked on him.

I had bought a couple of his courses. I bought a couple on DVD that I thought I would want to play again and again. They are expensive, but each course goes "on sale" at least once a year.

My girlfirend clued me in that some of his stuff was in the library. They are on CD. After I had devoured all the symphonists, I noticed a course of his on opera. Sure enough, my library had it. In my county, there is an interbranch system that you can access on the internet. You order what you want, and have it sent to your local library.

Anyhow, tho make a long story short, I am presently on Disc 27 of a 32 disc set, and loving every minute of it. He not only discusses opera, but puts it in the context of history, and relates it to the society as it was at the time that the opera was written. I have a CD Walkman, so I walk 3-4 miles a few times a week, while listening to the course. It is wonderful!

http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=740&pc=Fine+Arts+and+Music
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Gala
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 May, 2008 05:41 am
Shapeless wrote:
Some lovely tunes in Cosi fan tutti, no doubt about it... but it's hard for me to get over the obnoxiousness of the story.


Shapeless, interesting you would mention the story. I haven't a clue what the story is about, or what most of my favorite operas are about, it's always been about the sound.

I confess, I can hardly watch the clip of the Cosi Fan Tutti I've just posted. Those women, while they look good, are so distraught and the men, so cavalier. I made a half-hearted attempt at figuring out the libretto and abandoned it.
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Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 9 May, 2008 07:16 am
The libretto:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cos%C3%AC_fan_tutte

The version you posted is hilarious, Gala. It's jarring to see the 50s garb.
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Shapeless
 
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Reply Fri 9 May, 2008 11:26 am
Gala wrote:
I haven't a clue what the story is about, or what most of my favorite operas are about,


To give you an idea, "Cosi fan tutte" means "They [women] are all the same." As the character Don Alfonso puts it in Act II:

Everyone blames women, but I forgive them
If they change their love
A thousand times a day;
Some call it a sin, others a habit,
But I say it's a necessity of their heart.
The lover who finds that he's been deceived
Should blame not others
But his own mistake;
Whether they're young or old, fair or plain -
Repeat with me:
Women are all the same!




Gala wrote:
it's always been about the sound.


I used to rationalize it for myself the same way, I confess. But if I'm listening to it "just as sound," then I'm not really listening to it as opera, which sort of defeats the purpose of listening to opera, since the combination of music and drama is the very definition of opera. I now find myself unwilling to excuse disconcerting librettos by pointing to the lovely music; I'm just not comfortable with the idea of letting good music make questionable ideas more palatable (in some contexts, that's called propaganda!), or of overlooking questionable ideas for the sake of a few pretty tunes. The gains just don't seem to outweigh the losses.
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