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Opera Suggestions

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by agalisgv, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    I loved Eugene Onegin at the Met (I saw the encore screening). LOVED it. I'm very much an opera newbie, but so far this is my favorite opera.

    So, a question for you aficionados -- which is the best recording to get? A lot of people online say this one, but I'd like to get some more opinions before I pick one.
     
  2. Spun Silver

    Spun Silver Well-Known Member

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    I love Onegin too. Although I have not seen the cast of the recording you linked, or heard the recording, Hvorostovsky and Shikoff are wonderful, wonderful singers and it looks worthy to me.

    My own bias when it comes to Slavic music in particular is for native singers. The languages and their sounds are very foreign to singers from most other regions, who usually have to learn their lines phonetically. This limits their ability to meld words and music idiomatically. Even conductors who don't know the language intimately will be less idiomatic than native-born conductors. I noticed this especially in recordings and performances of the Czech composer Leos Janacek. That said, great singers and conductors can overcome the language barrier for me.

    I have seen EO live many times but have only one copy, which I love. It is an old Soviet-era Bolshoi recording which I own in a curious LP set where the box lists one cast and an insert lists another. Thank heavens I remember enough of the Russian alphabet to figure out the names. Based on the fact that the box lists Galina Vishnevskaya and I KNOW the Tatiana I was listening to was not Vishnevskaya, I am pretty confident in saying it is the following recording, from 1948 according to Wikipedia, which amazingly enough, is still available, and on CD. The tenor singing Lensky, Ivan Kozlovsky, is a real marvel. By chance, a musician friend who adores opera called up while I was writing this. I mentioned Koslovsky and he started raving about how wonderful he is. I dont think he ever sang in the US and he is not well known here, but he pierces the heart. Alas, he seems to have been a "court singer" of Stalin's, but I am unable to hold that against him while listening to him sing.
    www.amazon.com/Eugene-Onegin-Elena-...keywords=eugene+onegin+opera+ivanov+kozlovsky
    Here is a clip of Kozlovsky singing Lensky's aria a few years later. I doubt any non-Russian could pronounce the words as he does, and his musical artistry (if not his acting!) is sublime.
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5hkwBgy294
     
  3. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

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    We are at intermission during Norma. After Radvanovsky's first scene, my mother said, "Unbelievable." When the curtain fell at intermission, she said, "That is the best voice I've ever heard."
     
  4. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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  5. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

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    It really was a spectacular evening. My mom is still on a high from the production, calling it the best she has ever seen (and she has seen some great divas in her day). I'm about to fly home and I can't decide what the high point of the trip was, since we saw one great show or opera after another.
     
  6. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    That was brutal, all right. Please report back -- I'll be interested to see if you agree with the reviewer or not! :)

    Oh, and Spun Silver, thanks very much!
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  7. Spun Silver

    Spun Silver Well-Known Member

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    I love Mark Delavan and think Voigt is over the hill (sorry to repeat myself on that) so personally I would go to Forza with positive expectations.
     
  8. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    Monday night's performance was broadcast on Sirius, and Radvanovsky sang beautifully.

    "La Forza" is a wonderful opera. I wish I could be there to see it.
     
  9. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    I saw La Forza del Destino about 30 years ago with my mother when the Met came to the Kennedy Center. Leona Mitchell was Leonora. We were so excited about this opera when we saw it. I got my mother a tape of highlights and she played it over and over. So it has a special personal thing for me.

    I was a bit concerned that the WNO's updating of it to the present more or less might mean it wouldn't live up to my memory of it, but I have to say, it totally did! I was as excited about it as 30 years ago. I'll try to post some more detailed comments later, but right now, I just wish I could go to another performance!
     
  10. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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  11. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    I didn't disagree with the Post's critic that there was some sub par singing. The tenor Giancarlo Monsalve left a lot to be desired and the singing of Ketevan Kemoklidze who was Preziosilla, a pretty important character, made no impression at all. I thought Mark Delavan was good, I think the Post's critic just threw him in the same boat with Monsalve unfairly.

    I liked Adina Aaron as Leonora a lot. She did very well with the role and I liked her voice. There were several other singers who were quite good, Enrico Iori who sang Father Guardiano and Solomon Howard who is a young local favorite here in D.C.

    I thought the first scene was less effective than the rest and I really think they should have stuck with beginning with the overture rather than putting it after the first scene but with the characters still on stage silently acting out the story. That part didn't work well at all. The best part was the fabulous red dress Leonora wore. (How opera is like figure skating, sometimes the costumes are the best part!)

    I expected the contemporary setting to detract from the magic of the opera especially because I had seen a publicity photo with dancers and neon signs that reminded me too much of the Met's Las Vegas Rigoletto, but I was wrong about that. They could have done without the neon signs but otherwise the sets worked really well.

    For me the most effective was the scene where Leonora goes to find sanctuary in the religious community. Aaron really shone in this part and the set was really effective, kind of a back alley with graffitti. And in the second half they really built the drama up to the final scene so that it had the great impact it should.

    It could have been better in any numbers of way, especially the tenor, but I don't expect the Met when I go to the WNO and this was really a great effort.
     
  12. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the very substantive review! We should hit the opera together sometime -- you could fill me in on all the things I'm missing as an opera newbie. :)
     
  13. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

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    Time to bring up this thread again? :)
    I am going to the Richard Tucker gala concert at Lincoln Center this Sunday http://lc.lincolncenter.org/shows/208554?show_date=2013-11-17 18:30:00 and just learned that it will be broadcast on PBS on January 10 (check local listings)
    http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwope...bration-Hosted-by-Audra-McDonald-110-20131112

    I am also going to Richard Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten on Saturday night. Christine Goerke has been getting the highest praise and roars from the attendees and Peter Gelb mentioned in yesterday's NYT article that he plans to bring her back for all major Strauss & Wagner dramatic soprano roles.
     
  14. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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  15. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    Just Tweeted by baritone Brett Polegato, who is about to sing Dr. Malatesto in "Don Pasquale":

    1st time I've heard a SM have to page "3 whores to the stage, please. 3 whores to the stage." And they say opera is elitist!! @ManitobaOpera​
     
  16. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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  17. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

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  18. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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  19. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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  20. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Yes I thought of you when I read the review!

    Coote wasn't singing last night, I was disappointed.
     
  21. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    I think Coote did the first 3 performances, and another singer got the rest. I had seen Coote just a week or so before in Two Boys; she's had a busy season at the Met.

    Is anyone going to the HD broadcast of Falstaff on Saturday? A friend and I going to it at BAM. BAM charges a bit more, but you get a lecture beforehand, and we've learned you need to go to the lecture, because it's a small theatre and all the good seats are gone if you just turn up in time for the broadcast. The lectures are always interesting and worth the extra $$$.
     
  22. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    The HD Falstaff was FABULOUS, absolutely FABULOUS. 'Nuff said.
     
  23. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    This. I think this has been my favorite Met in HD broadcast. It made me want to get on a plane to see it.
    https://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/news/features/ambrogio-maestri-risotto?src=hptab

    There was lots of eye candy for the women. The Fenton, Paolo Fanale, could have been another Sinatra in another era. I always forget how good looking Franco Vassalo is and what a great smile he has. Christian Van Horn (Pistola) should live in kilts: he has :swoon: spectacular legs. The costumes were fantabulous.

    Happily, CBC plays it on tape delay, at least in Vancouver, and I got to listen to most of it again this afternoon.

    They weren't kidding when they said that Maestri's risotto recipe was on the website:
    https://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/news/features/ambrogio-maestri-risotto?src=hptab

    There's a link on the recipe to a video of Maestri cooking it, and when I checked out his YouTube page, he's got a bunch of cooking videos on it:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/ambrogiomaestri?feature=watch
     
  24. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    It aired live on the radio, and they were JUST getting started when I had to turn it off and go sing in a Christmas concert. Hated to miss it!
     
  25. IoanaC

    IoanaC Active Member

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    I agree about the Falstaff HD. Loved everything, staging, singing and the fab orchestra, but my favourite thing was seeing Angela Meade so carefree and at ease in comedy. She took me by surprise and it was great to watch.

    :lol::lol:
     
  26. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

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    Ok, Falstaff lovers. Help me out. (IoanaC, you're exempt ;))

    Mom and I (and an acquaintance) saw the HD. We loved all the singing (from hunky Pistola of CvanH to a perfect Falstaff of Maestri), acting, staging, costumes, sets, orchestra playing... but all that still left us unsatisfied as we left the theatre. I can easily recall fabulous details, but they did not add up into a coherent experience. What did we miss?? Was it the music itself? I read a few reports of people loving the production and still being bored at the end, among mostly glowing reviews, so I know we're not alone. I thought this was going to be a do-not-miss opera of the season and made sure I had it in my subscription. Unfortunately, I am now unable to go to NYC (mistakenly switched Falstaff tickets for the US Nationals weekend) and mom is on the fence.

    How should we have approached this opera?
     
  27. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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  28. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    "The Marriage of Figaro" is the exception to the rule that comedies don't hit like tragedies, and Verdi was on such a roll with "Don Carlo," "Aida," and "Otello." It's his most human scale work, IMO, without being about the average Joe, and after all of the :drama: and :glamor: and people getting shot and disappearing into tombs or the contrast between the slaves or imprisoned and the hero and The State, dramatically it can feel flat. It's so tightly constructed, that if you don't like the music, you could be stuck in admiration, but not love.

    While I don't think "Falstaff" is autobiography, it is from an old guy point of view, and I think he wrote it for himself.

    You could give it another try: according to Wyliefan's link, it will be shown on PBS. You won't have to travel to see it, and you get the camera close-ups.

    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is playing Mahler's 7th Symphony at Carnegie Hall, and it's being broadcast live on Sirius. Before intermission, Peter Mattei :)swoon:) sang a beautiful rendition of "Songs of the Wayfarer." I <3 Peter Mattei.

    ETA: I'm still :mad: and :wuzrobbed that the Met left off the Chereau "From the House of the Dead" from the Live in HD schedule :mitchell:
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  29. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your take, kwanfan! I may give this Falstaff another chance when it is repeated on PBS. You have a point that it is unlike other Verdi operas, lacking some larger-than-life drama or sweeping music.
    I must have missed exactly that.
    I don't have to love everything I see, but my indifference towards this particular Falstaff perplexed me, given all the "right" ingredients.
    I can see how someone can be utterly bored by Bellini's Norma, and if I had a subpar cast (and not the vocally absolutely fabulous Angela Meade & Jamie Barton), I would've been counting minutes too. Glad I am in a position to compare live performances. HDs/DVDs/streaming are a different experience.

    PS. Gah, I meant to tune in to the Carnegie broadcast, but totally forgot :(
     
  30. Spun Silver

    Spun Silver Well-Known Member

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    Was this your first time seeing it? If so, that could be the reason right there.

    Falstaff is such a unique work, unlike anything else Verdi or anyone else wrote, so if you come to it thinking you are going to hear something like Traviata or Rigoletto you could be taken aback. It is (to me) as if at the end of his creative life Verdi listened afresh to the Marriage of Figaro or Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream and reinvented his own musical idiom. I would say to approach it (a) as an ensemble work, (b) as an orchestral work, and (c) perhaps through some familiarity with Shakespeare's Falstaff. That is not the way one usually approaches Verdi, or opera for that matter. Falstaff lacks the big heroic or tragic arias and the full-blooded melodic ensembles of Verdi's other operas. None of the characters really stands out except Falstaff on a first viewing IMO.

    What it does have is a gossamer lightness, complexity, and speed in the orchestral and ensemble writing (again not typical of Verdi). Listen, listen, listen (it takes time and repeated exposure). Try to see the comedy in the context of the music instead of the other way around. I.e., much of the comedy is in the wit of the music, like the high-speed chattering and laughing of the wives, or Quickly's repeated sarcastic "Reverenza" to Falstaff, or Falstaff's dwelling on how slim he was as a boy ("era sottile, sottile"). And it would help if you could come to love the absurd, grotesque, lovable character of Falstaff himself, one of the greatest characters ever invented. Last suggestion: you might try focusing on scene 2 of act 3 to start. The Nannetta-Fenton music is exquisite and the whole scene is both musically and theatrically enchanting. Or focus on the young lovers throughout -- their beautiful music and tender play float above the earthier jealousy, attempted adultery, and revenge that all the other characters are preoccupied with. I've been singing "Bocca bacciata non perde ventura..." all week, as usual after hearing Falstaff!

    Now, having said all that in defense of one of my favorite operas: I was supposed to go to that performance, but there was a heavy snowstorm and we stayed home in NJ. I listened on the radio, but all we have is a boombox with a lot of static on some stations, unfortunately including the opera one. I could hardly make out the detail in the orchestra at all, which was crushing as this opera is one of Levine's masterpieces as a conductor and I was so looking forward to hearing him do it again. The conductor, as well as the Falstaff, makes or breaks this opera. So in fact I too was underwhelmed by the performance ... but I am going to blame it on my radio and not on the performance. Also, I obviously cant comment at all on the production or acting.

    Maybe Falstaff just isnt for you but give it another try. Some pieces take more effort than others, but are worth it.