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Opera Suggestions

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

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  1. Fergus

    Fergus Well-Known Member

    I agree with BlueRidge that Der Rosenkavalier probably isn't the best for newbies. The music is absolutely gorgeous, but it isn't effervescent, frothy, semi-slapstick comedy like Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus. It's a more contemplative, cerebral semi-sex comedy.

    For example, the Overture is basically the musical portrayal of two people having really slammin' sex. Then the curtain rises and there's an older lady and a young man in bed together enjoying their post-coital afterglow.

    And the young man is played by a woman. ;) So its rather tongue-in-cheek on many levels.
  2. The Village Idiot

    The Village Idiot Demon Barber

    Were you trying to convince us NOT to see it? Because that is perhaps the best ad for Der Rosenkavalier ever. In fact, I kinda want to go get tix now.
  3. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    yeah when I saw it many years ago, the young man was played by Frederica Von Stade :swoon:
  4. ncskatefan

    ncskatefan New Member

    i don't think nebtrenko has anything on zachary stains.
  5. Fergus

    Fergus Well-Known Member

    Oh you should totally get tix, Susan Graham makes a rather dashing boy when she's in drag. And Fleming is the perfect cougar. :D

    But for teens? They might find it a bit tedious (unless they grew up in Imperial Vienna). I'm sure many teen boys wouldn't have minded seeing Mattila's Salome, when she stripped to the buff for the Dance of the Seven Veils (though Maria Ewing beat her to it by a couple decades).

    Then again, some boys (like young yours truly) enjoyed the shirtless sailors of Billy Budd.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  6. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

    I think the Met cut the nudity when they did the live broadcast of Salome.

    I find it hard to picture teens being that excited about seeing Mattila naked, since she is 49. However, I saw her two years ago in an absolutely extraordinary production of Janacek's Jenufa . I actually think that production would have been a great introduction to opera for newbies (provided they were old enough to handle the subject matter). What I loved about it is that it relied on extraordinary acting and told a more insular story than many operas, which disproves a lot of people's views that opera consists of silly (and skeletal) stories with nice music and a lot of spectacle (and sopranos who take 20 minutes to die of consumption while somehow managing to find the breath between hacking coughs to belt out spellbinding arias ;)).

    Sigh, another production I wish the LA Opera had filmed for DVD that year instead of the awful Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.
  7. Fergus

    Fergus Well-Known Member

    I didn't see the production, which was indeed edited for broadcast, but friends of mine said she looked fantastic....and most importantly sang the crap out of it. :)

    My favorite Mattila moment @ the Met, however, was Fidelio. Sainted Mother of Kristen Flagstad, she was AMAZING. :swoon:
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  8. twinsissv

    twinsissv Well-Known Member

    :lol: Wow!!! That would have ticket subscriptions sold out years in advance and the patrons swinging from the chandeliers!!! :rofl: NOBODY falling asleep during that performance. :watch:

    Gives a whole new meaning to the man-in-the-moon!!!
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  9. Habs

    Habs Well-Known Member

    I was at the opening night of Salome at the Met last fall and Mattila was AMAZING. Naked, and AMAZING.
  10. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    She definitely was/is great in "trouser roles" -- her voice is still wonderful -- she performed at the Jerry Hadley tribute concert here several years ago. Lots of great singing that night and not a few tears.

    To the question as to which of the Met's operas would be the best for a novice and/or children, it's hard to say, but I'd be inclined to choose Aida, Turandot, Carmen, or Hoffman. Aida has spectacle aplenty, plus gorgeous music -- it's not an operatic warhorse for nothing. Carmen has music, costumes, love, bandits, bull fighters, and murder. Years ago I saw a local production of Hoffman (they had to "import" a tenor for the lead), and it was very entertaining (not boring), and "Turandot" can be riveting as well.

    I don't know that "Simon Boccanegra" would be the best, despite being Verdi and having Domingo (in a baritone role -- which is how he started out decades ago). I'm still waiting for him to make an appearance locally -- rumor had it that he might be here in a couple years with a zarzuela performance. Still regretting not getting to one of his performances at the Met about 15-16 years ago when I was visiting family in New Jersey. :(
  11. Fergus

    Fergus Well-Known Member

    That is 100% groovy, especially opening night!

    Let's spread the Mattila-love:


    Mattila and Thomas Hampson :)swoon:!) in Strauss' Arabella, from 2002. The staging is ridiculous (but really, what can you do when the climax of the whole show is literally a drink of water?), but the singing is just divine!
  12. reckless

    reckless Well-Known Member

    LOL. Fair enough. Here are some snippets from the Jenufa production I mentioned. The opening scene is Eva Urbanova as Kotelnicka, but Mattila begins right around the one-minute mark.
  13. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

    1. Five hours is a long time for anything, but there are two 20-30(?) minute intermissions.

    2. Here's a glimpse into the future seasons at the Met:

    ITA! I think my introduction to Carmen actually started with this Plisetskaya ballet when I was a kid, followed by listening to Carmen Suite on a vinyl record and finally making it to Kirov Opera to see the real thing.

    Can't go wrong with Carmen! Plus, Garanča and Alagna are in Carmen at the Covent Garden now, so they'll be well rehearsed together by the time they cross the ocean for the Met run.
    This blogger has a ton of the ROH production photos

    She made an appearance here last week for a recital with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa :swoon:

    agalisgv, I second the recommendation to check out DVDs at your local library or Netflix. If your children liked La Cenerentola, I think they would love the Dessay/Florez version of La Fille du Regiment or another Rossini's gem - Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
  14. Quintuple

    Quintuple papillon d'amour

    Whoa, lots to say here.

    a. Hilarious. b. OK, I kid you not. I was in a dive bar in Goleta, CA on a Tuesday night for karaoke. There was "Sitting Man" who was so tall he had to sit every time he sang on stage, and when he did, it was always "Rio". And there was a developmentally disabled Asian lady in a Christmas sweatshirt and big octagonal glasses sitting with a person watching over her. So right after Sitting Man finishes "Rio", the Asian lady gets up and hands a CD to the DJ. The video comes up, she starts singing. It's the Dvorak aria. The full thing. In Czech. And she totally sang it. I think at the end Sitting Man screamed, "Daaaaaaaaaaamn, lady!"

    2. Ooh, Simon Boccanegra really annoyed and bored me. I think I still have the point of view of what would be engaging for kids. Funny story though, the way I got to see it. One day my friend called me and said, "Hey, can you meet me at the opera house in an hour-and-a-half? My boss can't go and he gave me his tickets. They might be good seats, so, wear a tie." I wore a suit. Errr, turned out I was in a box seat next to Nancy Pelosi's for the opening night gala of the SF Opera. I didn't have time to look it up! And I even have a tux! I felt nervous even entering coz I saw all these ladies in crazy ball gowns. Apparently we really entertained our box-mates though.

    3. Maybe the production value is great, but I wouldn't say the rest of the operas on the list are super kid-friendly. Of course, Carmen is great and easy to understand. Hmm. I definitely think kids would be into The Magic Flute (but like with any Mozart opera, I say cut it short at the end of the third act).

    If you could get your hands on this DVD, The Little Prince would be perfect. It premiered here two years ago - I wish I attended!

    If you don't mind dark matter for the kids, I really, really liked the Berlin Opera's production of Verdi's Macbeth, and I saw it as a young teen. Really loved it. But I love Macbeth in general. I imagine Hamlet might be a bit too ... I dunno, long and dry? Depends on the production.

    Again, very dark, but if you could find a good production of Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle ... it's one act, so great for shorter attention spans, and in the tradition of the original "Red Riding Hood" and "The Little Mermaid", it's a classic tale that's really fascinating and gruesome.
    agalisgv and (deleted member) like this.
  15. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    No, but from the descriptions I've read in reviews, Scarpia gropes the Madonna at the end of the first act, because Tosca makes him forget G-d, and at the beginning of the second, at least one of the three prostitutes that are all over him mimes fellatio.

    But I suspect a lot of the boos were because it replaced the very lavish Zeffirelli production.
  16. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

    Sooo... Who went to see Tosca Live in HD from the Met yesterday?
  17. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    I did! I loved it but I'm in no tecnik when it comes to opera, and I'd be interested to hear from any of the cognoscente who saw it.

    I read a review and the criticism of the direction seemed to be largely about the murder scene, well I thought it was plenty dramatic, so I don't know what the criticism was about.

    I thought Karita Matilla was really good.

    I admittedly spent most of the third act visualizing who has skated to the music as it was playing... :lol:
  18. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    Thanks for explaining.

    Big deal. Boo to the audiences. :rolleyes:
  19. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

    Tosca kills Scarpia in a moment of panic; she sees the knife, she grabs it, she stabs him. Then, because he has died suddenly with no last rites, she places candles around the body, in her way giving him last rites. In this production, it is staged as premeditated murder; she sees the knife, she picks it up and hides it, she thinks about killing him and then a while later she does and then she leaves without giving him her version of last rites.

    That's one of the issues that enrages the traditionalists about this production. There is a big difference between self-defense/unpremeditated murder and murder.
  20. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    That I can see as being a bit of a problem. That's majorly changing the character's character.
  21. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    Well, we caught Aida today. This time there were actual people in the theater besides us :p.

    Anyhow, it wasn't quite the hit I was hoping for, but my oldest was generally positive about it by the end. The man playing Ramades had a tremendous voice I thought. Did anyone else watch it?

    We're planning on seeing Turandot next. And they did confirm they were doing a new production of Carmen this year, so not so sure about that one.
  22. Twilight1

    Twilight1 Well-Known Member

    Anyone seen this one?

  23. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    The Metropolitan Opera and Seattle Opera did a co-production of "Iphigenie en Tauride" a couple of years ago, and I was lucky to see it in Seattle three times and to hear it on Sirius again. (The big news at the Met was that Placido Domingo sang the baritone role, and it put butts in seats for an unknown opera, but I thought it was Susan Graham's, the Iphigenie's, vocal triumph.) It's got very beautiful music, but it's not like a Verdi or Puccini opera or even Mozart, his contemporary, in the overall sound or in the libretto, which, like earlier operas, is based on myth.

    The most famous music from it is the tenor aria, which survived on a number of tenor aria albums, like this one posted to YouTube, sung by George Thill:


    You should be able to get a feel for whether you'd like the music from this.
    Twilight1 and (deleted member) like this.
  24. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

    My whole family went to see Aida yesterday, but I am going to the encore on Nov 11 or 12. All of them were pleased with the production, singing and intermission interviews, so I am looking forward to it.

    As for Carmen, I listened to the Covent Garden one yesterday on BBC radio (the one with Garanca and Alagna). The recording will be available until next Saturday here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tnpy

    I am seeing Rossini's Tancredi today. Di Tanti Palpiti
  25. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    It's very clever of the Met to interview the singers from the upcoming HD at intermission of the current one. Marcelo Giordani (Calaf) was tiffed in a very nice suit, and Maria Guleghina (Turandot) was wearing a low cleavage black pants suit with some kind of white decoration at the bottom of one side of the jacket. They are the best ambassadors for getting the audience on their side and invested in the performance. I was going to skip Turandot, but I'm re-thinking that now.
  26. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

    I would argue that groping the Madonna isn't exactly in character either. Even some of the less traditionalist critics didn't like it, from what I hear.

    Even were I not a Christian -- and for what it's worth, I'm Protestant rather than Catholic -- I'd think there would be little to be gained from deliberately trying to shock and offend a portion of the audience.
  27. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

    Despite the news reports, he didn't grope the Madonna, he kissed her. When I was in Europe, I saw older worshippers in Spain do the same, although not as precipitously and publicly. I don't know whether this would have been true in Rome.

    I'm not so sure Tosca's action was that out of character. In the instrumental music that is played while Scarpia writes out the safe conduct passes, there are cues for her to look around, see the knife at the table, freeze at the thought that she could use it to kill him, and then to take it and hide it, usually at her side, as the traditional Tosca Act II dress is short-sleeved. Scarpia usually runs across the room after he sings "Tosca, you're finally mine!" rather than jumping her on the couch, but I saw a Seattle Opera production in which Greer Grimsley did the sofa plunge earlier in the scene.

    In this production, she sees it earlier and thinks about using it, but then puts it back on the table. (The transmission microphones picked up the big clunk when she did.) Later, when she decides she has to use it -- all of her Visi d'Arte-ing having accomplished nothing -- she hides it under the pillow on the sofa, instead of pacing around the stage with the hidden knife.
  28. Little Princess

    Little Princess Well-Known Member

    Mozart's operas totally rock!
    I especially lurve Figaro, The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni.

    Then I can recommend Carmen, Tosca, Turandot, and Madame Butterfly.
  29. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

    I realize you and your family have already seen La Cenerentola, but may I suggest this tres voidy production featuring Juan Diego Florez and Joyce DiDonato that just came out on DVD
  30. jollibee

    jollibee Member

    Just a reminder that it's The Tales of Hoffmann tomorrow! It's best known aria was in Life is Beautiful and Titanic. The previews made it look minimalistic and creepy. It's going to be an adjustment after the gorgeous Turandot production, but I can't wait!!
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