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#57014 - 11/13/02 10:37 AM Opera
voiceofreason
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/27/02
Posts: 1257
Loc: Brookline, MA, USA

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I have not been a big opera fan in the past (lack of interest and lack of exposure both) but I've been to two operas this season (an outdoor performance of Carmen a couple months ago and Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio last night). I think I really like opera -- not, perhaps, in a going out and buying lots of expensive CDs kind of way, definitely not in a hanging around stage doors kind of way, but certainly in a continuing to go to the opera kind of way, even though it did seem that I was the youngest person there by about ten years, and I was probably 30+ years younger than average.

Anyone want to talk opera?

For starters, I want to very highly recommend the production of Abduction from the Seraglio I saw last night ( here\'s a synopsis). It's in Boston through the end of the week, and it will be going to Opera Colorado, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Pacific, and Minnesota Opera. They set it on a private car on the Orient Express circa 1920 and sang it in English (with projected text besides). The costumes and set were great. It was lots of fun; some silly slapstick humor, people getting tied up stealing people's clothes and things. The singers were mostly very good; the woman who sang Blonde had an almost inaudible speaking voice, but you could understand everything she said when she was singing, and the soprano who played Konstanze was visibly pregnant, which made the whole "separated lovers" plot line a little more interesting, but I think may also have affected her singing ability (she seemed a little iffy to me on some of the fancy high stuff). But actually, the singers won't be travelling with the production, so that doesn't matter so much for those in other parts of the country.

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#57015 - 11/13/02 11:15 AM Re: Opera
StephA
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/13/02
Posts: 2744
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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 Quote:
Originally posted by voiceofreason:
Anyone want to talk opera?
Oh, me, me, pick me!

I'm not an opera buff by any stretch of the imagination, but I've been to more than most people I know, especially those my age (mid-twenties). I live in Toronto, so my opera exposure is through the COC - Canadian Opera Company.

The last opera I saw was The Queen of Spades - Russian, very dark, amazing sets, but only one really memorable and vaguely sing/hum-able piece of music.

Later this season (next year, that is) I'm going to see An Italian Girl in Algiers and Madama Butterfly. I've already seen Butterfly, but it's my Mom's favourite, and since she's my opera-attending partner, she picked it. I don't mind it - I love Un bel di, it's so beautiful - but I get irritated with Pinkerton. What a jerk! I liked this story better in Miss Saigon where the guy at least had some regret at what he'd done.

Oops. Sorry for the rant. Next time I'll try to stick to discussing opera.

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#57016 - 11/13/02 04:04 PM Re: Opera
goovie
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/14/01
Posts: 808
Loc: chicago, il

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I've only been to the opera once or twice, and those times were far too long ago. My mom's a huge opera buff, so I grew up listening to opera broadcasts from the Met every single Saturday, and I studied music in college. So I can't talk about recent productions I've seen or anything, but if anyone wants to hear a lecture about operas based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, or the themes of revolution in Verdi's work, let me know. :p Come to think of it, I haven't been seeing or listening to enough classical music of any kind lately. Hopefully, I'll be able to work on this after my move.
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#57017 - 11/13/02 06:02 PM Re: Opera
MendraMarie
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/13/01
Posts: 41
Loc: Slovakia

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My grandparents were the hang-around-the-stage-door type for years. They still listen to the Met via radio religiously and tape every single one. (I went through some of their tapes last time I visited. It took three days.) So I grew up immersed in classical music and opera.

With Christmas season getting so close, it's time to pull out my CD of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. It's just not Christmas without it.

Carmen is my personal favourite - I've seen it done three times in the last three years, and have several different recordings of it.

And I'm so excited - the London City Opera is coming to campus this spring with Madame Butterfly. StephA, I totally agree with you about Butterly vs. Miss Saigon - but the opportunity to see it live just blows my mind.

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#57018 - 11/14/02 05:05 PM Re: Opera
sophietje
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/19/02
Posts: 318
Loc: Buffalo, NY, USA, Earth, The U...

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ooh, i like seeing operas. I don't like listening to them on cd, except for a few special ones, nor on tv.
I went to Indiana University, which has probably the best opera school in the US. I worked on the scenery crew and lighting crew for several years, so I got to watch the operas from behind the scenes (usually between 8 and 10 times per show- i learned many of them very well!).
After that, I continied to see operas there for another couple years.

By far, my favorites are Carmen, Madame Butterfly and Don Giovanni. I frequently found it to be really annoying to hear the singers sing EVERYTHING. however, all of that is put aside when you hear the emotion that can be put into a simple phrase, that speaking couldn't do.
For instance, when the Commedatore comes to Don Giovanni at the end and sing "Don Giovanni, a cenar teco" in that booming bass, it is easy to understand why don Giovanni should be terrified. There is no way the Commedatore could have been nearly so frightening if he had simply yelled it.

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#57019 - 11/16/02 12:57 AM Re: Opera
essay
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/18/01
Posts: 1738

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I got to see two operas last summer and though very different, I loved both of them. My sister took me to see Carmen in San Francisco, and that was a luxurious delight. And then I got to see a newish opera, Little Women, both in rehearsal and then in performance at the Cabrillo Music Festival here in town, and I adored it. I agree with Sophietje that things can be said in music in a much more powerful way sometimes than just speech alone can do. I know nothing about opera, yet have gotten great pleasure from almost every opera I've ever seen. I like it on TV almost as much as live, but just listening to it on CD is not quite it for me. It's fine if I've just seen it, but I think what I like is the totality--words, music, spectacle.
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#57020 - 11/16/02 01:36 AM Re: Opera
hula
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/22/00
Posts: 756
Loc: Victoria, BC

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 Quote:
I think what I like is the totality--words, music, spectacle.
I agree essay.

I love the opera but I'm pretty clueless about it all. I just like the combination of drama (and melodrama), the music and singing, the sets, the costumes. I've seen six operas live, all done by the same company. My favourite was Carmen, with La Traviata a close second.

In October, I saw La Boheme and was so disappointed. Everyone repeatedly said it's "the best opera ever" so my expectations were a little high. But sadly I think the local opera company is low on funding and skimping on singing talent. Everything was nicely done, but I didn't get that awesome tingly pleasure once through the whole thing. At Carmen, I was a ball of tingly, like somebody had plugged me in.

I'm hoping I can afford tickets to The Marriage of Figaro in the spring. I'd love to be able to go to some of the operas in Seattle and Vancouver, too.

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#57021 - 11/16/02 06:50 PM Re: Opera
cailinoBAC
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/11/01
Posts: 144
Loc: Dublin, Ireland

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Marriage of Figaro? That's my favourite opera! This time last year I'd never been to the opera, but it's s cheap in Vienna that I'm seen about 15. Some of them are overlong and it helps so much when there are familiar songs. I dn't expect amazing acting, but it is good when the singers put some effort in and do more than sing, move around the stage and die very badly. Maybe I'm shallow, but I like the big sets. I lied, I actually did go the opera in Ireland shortly over a year ago. It was in a concert hall and the effect wasn't quite the same.
I've always liked listening to opera though. Seeing it performed makes it mean something more. I think I had a 'best of' opera CD before, now I have CDs of most of the operas I've seen.
I still have so many to see. La Traviata. Madame Butterfly.
Of the operas I've seen, the only one I disliked was Salome. It was just weird and the music wasn't memorable at all.

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#57022 - 11/16/02 10:50 PM Re: Opera
voiceofreason
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/27/02
Posts: 1257
Loc: Brookline, MA, USA

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I've never seen Salome, but I remember studying the "Salome" chord in a couple music classes -- apparently the head-on-a-plate chord is just the most discordant thing ever or something and other composers went back and used it. I don't think I'd recognize it if I heard it, though.

I really, really want to see Der Rosenkavalier. But it could be [i]years/[i] before it's produced in Boston or New York (where it would be very easy or not too difficult for me to see). I just did a Google search on "2002-2003" "Der Rosenkavalier" and it will be performed at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in May and June. As good a thing to plan a trip around as any, right? Hmmm...

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#57023 - 11/17/02 03:56 AM Re: Opera
Krickett621
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 05/22/02
Posts: 9
Loc: Boston, MA

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hey! i was like that too. i didn't get into opera until i was actually exposed to it, and then i just fell in love with it. Favorites definitely include carmen, don giovanni, marriage of figaro, la boheme, etc, as you all mentioned.

others that i think are also very very worthwhile are la traviata and rigoletto by verdi. they're amazing. aida is also good. and you can't go wrong with puccini: madame butterfly and turandot.

originally i had this stereotypical image of opera singers as the big fat viking woman with a horned helmet. you know, THAT image. hehe, well, i've come a long way since then and i'm everso thankful that i was able to properly get exposed to it by some friends of mine. although, i did go to a performance of the ring series (wagner) and that was actually as stereotypical as you can get of the opera image but it was still good. wagner's not my cup of tea though. :-)

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