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  1. #1
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    Opera Suggestions

    I've never been much into opera. But last year my family decided to check out La Cenerentola with the Met Live in HD series (that's about as close as we can get to live opera where I live). Well, lo and behold my kids just loved it and want to see some more.

    So now the new season for Met Live is about to start, and we're trying to decide which ones we should see. Here's the list of this season's upcoming performances.

    Do people have suggestions on what would be good pics for opera newbies, particularly children? I think they liked La Cenerentola in part because it was funny.

    Simon Boccanegra will be featuring Placido Domingo. I thought it might be nice to see him perform, but I don't know anything about the opera and whether Domingo would be worth seeing just because.

    Any and all suggestions are appreciated

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    As any self-respecting skating fan, you should see the ABCs of opera or at least the A and the C offered this season, meaning Aida and Carmen. Aida is looooooooong and has a ballet in it but still worth is IMO. The B is for La Boheme but it's not on the list. That and La Traviata are my two all time faves.

    Tosca is another one I would definitely go see if only to choreograph programs in my head.

    Domingo is great but I would rather go for the music that I know I love which is the ones I recommended above.
    Last edited by IceAlisa; 10-03-2009 at 02:52 AM.
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    The Magic Flute by Mozart is great, I loved it anyway.

    As mentioned, you're already very familiar with Carmen and Tosca

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    The Barber of Seville
    La Traviata
    Madame Butterfly
    The Bartered Bride
    La Boheme
    Cyrano de Bergerac
    Don Giovanni
    Turandot
    ~I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.~ (Charles R. Swindoll)

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    I absolutely adore La Traviata, La Boheme and Madame Butterfly, but from your list, I would go and see Plácido Domingo in Simon Boccanegra or see Aida. When I saw Aida, the stage, costumes etc. were all amazing, best I have ever seen - and it has a pretty easy to follow storyline for children too, I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post

    Tosca is another one I would definitely go see if only to choreograph programs in my head.
    .
    This might not be the best time to go to Tosca for the first time. The Met has a new and very controversial production this season; the production team was loudly booed on opening night. The whole thing is the talk of the NY opera world at the moment; it might not be the best introduction to this particular opera.

    I would suggest Turandot; the Met production is a big spectacular and might keep children interested even if they don't care for the story line.

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    On a side note, I find this music video of Anna Netrebko singing the Song to the Moon from Dvorak's Rusalka highly entertaining, although you might not want your kids to see it, agal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by emason View Post
    I would suggest Turandot; the Met production is a big spectacular and might keep children interested even if they don't care for the story line.
    I confess I've been leaning towards Turandot.

    Here are our options:
    Tosca
    Aida
    Turandot
    Les Contes d’Hoffmann
    Der Rosenkavalier
    Carmen
    Simon Boccanegra
    Hamlet
    Armida

    My main concern is to pick something the kids will like. I don't want it to be a turn-off for them.
    This might not be the best time to go to Tosca for the first time. The Met has a new and very controversial production this season; the production team was loudly booed on opening night. The whole thing is the talk of the NY opera world at the moment; it might not be the best introduction to this particular opera.
    Could you say more about this?
    Quote Originally Posted by UMBS Go Blue View Post
    you might not want your kids to see it, agal.
    Yeah, no .

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    OMG this is amazing. She's very pretty, her voice (to my untrained ears) is very stunning, the song is very lovely, the video? Is [unintentionally] very awesome. Wheeee!
    Quote Originally Posted by UMBS Go Blue View Post
    On a side note, I find this music video of Anna Netrebko singing the Song to the Moon from Dvorak's Rusalka highly entertaining, although you might not want your kids to see it, agal.

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    ETA: The music video can be found (along with 3-4 other equally provocative ones) on one of Netrebko's Deutsche Grammophon CDs from a few years back that was a collection of popular arias. Netrebko also gave a much-acclaimed modern interpretation of La Traviata at the Salzburg festival in 2005 which is available on DVD - perhaps your local library might have this.

    Netrebko will be performing in the Met's HD broadcasts of Les Contes d'Hoffmann in December, but I'm sorry to say I'm not familiar with that opera - or much at all, besides the fact that Netrebko has reached pop-star like status within the opera world. Netrebko will also be performing in the Met's production of La Boheme in March 2010, but that's not going to be on HD.

    If I'd known, agal, that you'd be so interested in opera, I would have sent you a paperback I ended up donating to the local library - it was an quick, but encyclopedic reference, to most major operas.

    Sorry for intentionally derailing the thread.
    Last edited by UMBS Go Blue; 10-03-2009 at 03:54 AM.

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    I consider myself a noob, and the one opera I have tickets to this season (so far) is Les Contes d'Hoffmann. Mind you I know nothing about it other than Anna Netrebko is in it and Bartlett Sher is directing. Definitely a hot ticket this season.

    The one opera/performance that changed my life was Natalie Dessay in La Fille de Regiment and therefore I will see anything with her in it (Hamlet).

    Based on friend recommendations, I was also going to get tix to Der Rosenkavalier or Armida...leaning towards Der Rosenkavalier (since there is only so much opera I can take).

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    Quote Originally Posted by emason View Post
    This might not be the best time to go to Tosca for the first time. The Met has a new and very controversial production this season; the production team was loudly booed on opening night. The whole thing is the talk of the NY opera world at the moment; it might not be the best introduction to this particular opera.
    What is controversial about this Tosca production? Was it Tosca in the nude?
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    Agal, based on your posts, I would defenetly recommend Aida to you.
    Enjoy!

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    Turandot is absolutely stunning, both musically, and scenically - most productions are jaw droppingly beautiful in their design - including the Zeffirelli. I get chills just thinking about it musically. Not as easy for the kids to follow though. I've never been big on Aida, but I am in the clear minority on that.

    Rosenkavalier and Carmen are my recommended choices for the kids. Have fun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebayj View Post
    Rosenkavalier and Carmen are my recommended choices for the kids. Have fun!
    Would you say it's worth it to hear Placido Domingo? I know nothing about Simon Boccanegra.

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    Placido Domingo's greatness is his unsurpassed ability to act with his singing voice. If your children can appreciate that, then by all means have them watch Simon Boccanegra.

    Carmen, Aïda, and Turandot are all war horses for a reason -- great music and plenty of spectacle. Not much comedy to be had in any of them, but your kids should enjoy them.

    The production designers of the Met's Tosca got booed (!) at the debut for their stark, modern sets. I'm guessing that there might not be enough there visually for your kids.

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    I have not heard the music from Aida, but my opera buff Aunt said it was worth seeing for sure. My aunt was the one who use to take my sister and I to various plays, musicals, ballets and opera's growing up.

    The list I gave you, are the opera's I am most familiar with and if they come to you one day, I am sure the kids will love them, as a few from that list, I saw when I was younger.

    Have fun!!!
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    agalisgv, how old are your children? The themes and plot points of many operas are frequently violent, sexual or both. There is no opera on the list which is really comparable to Cenerentola. The lightest in tone is probably Rosenkavalier, but its plot is focused on romance and illicit affairs. The music is gorgeous, but Strauss might be a bit challenging for children. My recommendation goes to Turandot as another fairy tale but in the violent Brothers Grimm school. It's exciting, but has a happy ending, at least for the 2 main characters. Of course, the title character is a sociopath who is responsible for many deaths and the torture and suicide of the secondary female lead, but Hansel and Gretel cooked an old woman in an oven so that's not unexpected in fairy/folk tales. Puccini's music is easier for most children to appreciate, too. I've never seen Tales of Hoffman, but I seem to remember that it has 3 stories. It's a far lesser work than the others on your list, but you might want to check it out if the others seem too adult in content.

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    Seeing the great Domingo, especially now in the twilight of his career, is a must; however, Boccanegra isn't the most visually stimulating or action-driven opera. Don't know how kids would like it, but hey, they can tell their grandkids they saw Domingo.

    If "spectacle" is most easily digested by the young-ins, I would say Aida, Turandot, or Carmen. Zajick is singing Amneris in Aida, that alone is worth the price of a ticket. She'll hit it out of the park.

    Der Rosenkavalier is one of my personal faves and has glorious music, but its Strauss and 20th century and therefore its melodies are more adventurous than 19th century fare. Fleming is a fantastic Marschallin and Graham always shines as Octavian. However, very much character driven: the climax is three ladies (one of them playing a boy) singing overlapping monologues.

    Armida and Hamlet are all about the singing. With Fleming in the former and Keenlyside (dreamboat!!!!) and Dessay in the latter, you can't go wrong. But again, not exactly the most action packed.

    Hoffmann is just boring and has too many characters, IMHO.

    Let me finish by saying that it is SOOOOO groovy that your kids are into it! Keep it up, we need young people to continue performing AND attending in the future!!!
    Last edited by Fergus; 10-03-2009 at 12:31 PM.

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