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Opera Suggestions

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

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  1. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    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 :)
  2. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    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. :lol:

    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: Oct 3, 2009
  3. LordCirque

    LordCirque Well-Known Member

    The Magic Flute by Mozart is great, I loved it anyway.

    As mentioned, you're already very familiar with Carmen and Tosca :lol:
  4. Twilight1

    Twilight1 Well-Known Member

    The Barber of Seville
    La Traviata
    Madame Butterfly
    The Bartered Bride
    La Boheme
    Cyrano de Bergerac
    Don Giovanni
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  5. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    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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  6. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

    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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  7. UMBS Go Blue


  8. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    I confess I've been leaning towards Turandot.

    Here are our options:
    Les Contes d’Hoffmann
    Der Rosenkavalier
    Simon Boccanegra

    My main concern is to pick something the kids will like. I don't want it to be a turn-off for them.
    Could you say more about this?
    Yeah, no :p.
  9. Orable

    Orable Well-Known Member

  10. UMBS Go Blue


    :shuffle: :EVILLE: :shuffle:

    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. :wuzrobbed

    Sorry for intentionally derailing the thread. :EVILLE:
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2009
  11. The Village Idiot

    The Village Idiot Demon Barber

    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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  12. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    What is controversial about this Tosca production? Was it Tosca in the nude? :p
  13. Eden

    Eden Well-Known Member

    Agal, based on your posts, I would defenetly recommend Aida to you.
  14. ebayj

    ebayj Well-Known Member

    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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  15. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    Would you say it's worth it to hear Placido Domingo? I know nothing about Simon Boccanegra.
  16. Squibble

    Squibble New Member

    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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  17. Twilight1

    Twilight1 Well-Known Member

    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!!!
  18. JJH

    JJH Well-Known Member

    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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  19. Fergus

    Fergus Well-Known Member

    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: Oct 3, 2009
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  20. skaternum

    skaternum Grooving!

    This video made me laugh. She is physically beautiful and has a wonderful voice, but the cheesecake effort was too funny. The cheap float, the awful lip synching, the attempt at "opera porn" ... just a hoot.

    Between the opera I saw last night (Rigoletto) and this whole thread, I feel the need to find my Florence Foster Jenkins CD and rock out to some horrific singing today. :lol:
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2009
  21. ebayj

    ebayj Well-Known Member

    Probably, but not ahead of my other recommendations. I've never been big on Simon - but Domingo is one of the preeminent artists of the past century. What a wonderful arts form to bring to your kids.
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  22. merrywidow

    merrywidow Well-Known Member

    From the list, I would choose "The Tales of Hoffman" & "Carmen" as being the best for children. I saw "Carmen" live at the Met when I was 12 years old & have been a lifelong lover of opera ever since.
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  23. rjblue

    rjblue Having a great day!

    I'm going to see Turandot.

    I love the fairy tale plot. I want to hear Nessun Dorma live on the big screen, instead of my TV. And it's a lot shorter than Tristan and Isolde, which I saw last year.
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  24. twinsissv

    twinsissv Well-Known Member

    I most heartily agree with both Fergus and ebayj about Domingo. Decades from now I think that your children would still be thanking you for the privilege of having seen him perform. :encore:

    My first experience with live opera was as a child on a class visit to see La Boheme. I don't remember who that teacher was but to this very day, I am grateful. Thanks, teach!!! :respec:
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  25. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

  26. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

    I would lean toward Turandot and Carmen. Turandot for a lot of the reasons people have already mentioned, plus one of the performers is Marina Poplavskaya, who was fabulous in the LA Opera production of La Traviata last year.

    Carmen is easy to follow, the music is great, and has a lot of spectacle that kids will love.

    Der Rosenkavalier is a comedy, so the kids might appreciate it, but Strauss could be difficult. However, having said that, my introduction to opera was a production of Faust, which is hardly a kid-friendly opera, but I enjoyed the drama of it.

    I also would suggest that you also consider watching some opera DVDs with your kids. The Magic Flute and Marriage of Figaro are great introductions for kids. (Amazon has the Julie Taymor-directed Met production of The Magic Flute from a few years ago, which was done in an abridged version and in English.) You might also look at some light opera or operettas. I highly recommend renting this production of Luisa Fernanda, a zarzuela, which is a Spanish type of light opera. The music is great and the story accessible, and will also illustrate that not every opera has to be a huge, lavish production. (I saw this version of Luisa Fernanda at the LA Opera a few years ago and really loved it.) Here is a video clip.

    ETA: I keep hoping that they do a DVD version of the Woody Allen-directed production of Gianni Schicchi. That would be a fantastic production for kids, since it had most of the adults I know falling out of their seats. Imagine an opera with Puccino music (and one of the most beautiful arias ever (O mio babbino caro) done in a style of a Marx Brothers version of an Italian mob film.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
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  27. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    I have two questions:

    Based on people's suggestions here, I was thinking of Der Rosenkavalier. But then I saw the performance time is close to five hours. Is that a long and/or difficult production to sit through? Or did it fly by? I'm wondering how well my kids will last through that.

    Also, does anyone know if the production for Carmen will be a traditional one, or a modern revision? I didn't know if they were going to do a Tosca with Carmen ;). I ask because the scene pic they posted looks very minimalistic, and I don't know the various production crews from one another.

    Thanks everyone for all your suggestions so far.

    Oh, one last thing--does anyone know when the Met announces their line-up for next year? I was thinking if we could catch Domingo in a different opera next year, we may take a pass on Simon Boccanegra this year. Simon doesn't play until February I believe. Would next year's schedule be up by then?

    Thanks again :)!
  28. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    One of the first operas I saw live was Der Rosenkavalier and I did. not. enjoy. it. at. all. I don't think a Strauss opera is a good choice for opera newbies. I do plan to go see it this time though, but that's cause I'm in love with Renee Fleming. ;)

    Tosca is one of my mother's favorite operas so we are going to that on Saturday.

    Just to add, I saw Turandot on tv once and it was a pretty good spectacular, but my mother doesn't like it at all. OTOH, Maria Guleghina is starring in it and I saw in the HD broadcast of MacBeth two seasons ago that she was in and she is very dramatic and engaging.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  29. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    As mentioned before, the old warhorses are your safest bets.

    Even if Carmen is minimalistic, you still get to hear the gorgeous gorgeous music of Bizet. And hopefully some decent singing too. ;)

    I will tell you this much: the ballet Carment Suite was done in a modern style, very minimalistic decorations and choreography and how much does this rock??

    I just could never say no to Carmen.
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