Operatics!

It's only cool if no one's heard of it.

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Felstaff
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Operatics!

Postby Felstaff » Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:33 pm UTC

So I went to the Opera for the first time evar last week. I went to see Tosca (performed in English) at the Royal Albert Hall, and I have to say, it was fan-fucking-tastic.

I was always of the disposition that being at the opera, for me, would be like when the Simpsons went to the opera. General boredom, with schoolboy sniggering at the fat singing lady. I was so wrong; it was intense and evocative; far better than any play or musical I've seen. It wasn't particularly long either. Three acts of forty minutes, with a 15 minute interval between each. I didn't have any cash on me so I couldn't buy a programme, and worried that I wouldn't 'get it'. Even though it was hard to discern the English words when sung operatically, I was hooked on every moment, and could easily follow the story.

The last act was as action-packed and edge-of-the-seat excitement as some Hollywood. I may have to go see it again.

There was none of the snobbery I associate with opera either; wearing a suit with no tie, I felt overdressed, especially as the most demure spectators were wearing jeans and bling. Hell, my pre-conceived notion that it was attended only by the white ruling classes (stereotyped gloriously in my avatar) was blown out of the water. Yes, a significant proportion of the crowd were 50-60, well-dressed overweight, balding pompous white snobs, CEOs, executives, that kind of thing, but an even greater proportion were young, sexy ladies. I swear most of them were Italian, judging by their Mediterranean good looks. The crowd were as diverse as a London bus in age and ethnicity terms, except far more beautiful. +1 for multiculturalism, -10 for my preconceived notions.

So, um, you bin to the oprah lately? Any good?
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Re: Operatics!

Postby Sinta » Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:45 pm UTC

I love opera. My dad taught me that opera was not just for the privileged, but that a poor man can enjoy it just as much. I remember him playing Pavarotti almost every Sunday when I was growing up. And Christmas without Carmen or Aida would be incomplete.

I'm looking forward to Leeds Opera in the Park this summer. I have gone for the past two years and have never been disappointed. Plus, it's free! Just come with a picnic basket, a few bottles of wine and a folding chair. Oh yes, don't forget your wellies.
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Re: Operatics!

Postby Disco_Inferno » Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:17 pm UTC

I am just starting to gain an appreciation for Opera. My aunt gave me a CD of La Boheme, and I am enjoying it a lot. My dad recommended me to listen to Carmen. Any other Operas I should look at as a beginner to the genre?
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Re: Operatics!

Postby Antimatter Spork » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:33 pm UTC

This year I've been fortunate enough to see two operas: Carmen (which is fantastic) and Mozart's La Finta Giardiniera (which I've probably misspelled, but is also fantastic).

Personally I find opera to be much more enjoyable live than in recorded form. If you possibly can, go see a live production by a local company, or even a nearby music school. If you must have a recorded version, make sure that you have the lyrics (or a translation) to follow along (opera can be very long, and without the dramatic production surrounding it, it's easy to be bored).

For a beginner, you might want to look into opera composed by composers whose other work you enjoy. Opera also has many different varieties that are very different. A Baroque opera by Monteverdi is very different from a Wagnerian opera. Listen to opera that fits your stylistic tastes. I personally prefer Classical Opera (like Mozart) and more modern opera (like Phillip Glass and Alban Berg) to Wagner, but YMMV. (I do like Wagner's Overtures, though)
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Re: Operatics!

Postby JayDee » Sat Jun 14, 2008 2:26 pm UTC

I've been really wanting to go to the Opera lately, so *bump* ...
Felstaff wrote:There was none of the snobbery I associate with opera either; wearing a suit with no tie, I felt overdressed, especially as the most demure spectators were wearing jeans and bling.
Heh. On opening night of a recent season of The Magic Flute at the Sydney Opera House I wore jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. It was all I had with me in Sydney, and I felt fairly awkward until I was there, and realised it didn't matter. That was a once off, though. I love dressing up too much!
Sinta wrote:I love opera. My dad taught me that opera was not just for the privileged, but that a poor man can enjoy it just as much.
So true! I've been four times now, everytime when I was poor (unemployed, even.) The first time was great, there were about half a dozen of use who had never been to or even listened to an Opera before, and were pretty new to classical music altogether (we were learning to sing with the same teacher.) Made a thing of it, all dressed up, saw Nabucco. I also saw a performance of The Marriage of Figaro that my singing teacher was in. That was by a smaller group in a little theatre in South Melbourne, which was a different experience.
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Re: Operatics!

Postby cypherspace » Sun Jun 15, 2008 12:46 pm UTC

Tosca is a superb opera. I went to see La Traviata a few months ago here in Cardiff and very much enjoyed that (I went in black tie, as well... I think there were perhaps another two people in similar dress). I've seen Peter Grimes and Boris Godunov at the Royal Opera House as part of my studies, years ago.

My favourites would be Carmen and Aida, I think. Verdi has to be my favourite operatic composer, but I do also like Mozart's operas, and I'm not usually a fan of Mozart.

Felstaff, your next opera should perhaps be Verdi's final one...
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Re: Operatics!

Postby ChocloManx » Sun Jun 15, 2008 7:40 pm UTC

I want to see The St Matthew Passion so bad, if only for the first movement.
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Re: Operatics!

Postby existential_elevator » Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:00 pm UTC

It's been a while since I've been to the opera, but yes, I had a similar revelation to you, Felstaff.

I saw La Boheme at the Royal Opera House, performed in French, but with nifty subtitles at the bottom of the stage. To be honest, I would have preferred it without subtitles, since the translation really seemed to take an edge off the drama: also, it was kind of distracting.

I can't remember that I've seen anything else live, but I'm always on the look out for performances of Carmen.. they tend to run around my birthday, and one day time, place, and willing parter will align like the solar equinox, I tell ye.

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Re: Operatics!

Postby JayDee » Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:53 pm UTC

Yay for holiday temp work! (and my handy dandy Visa debit card!) I just bought a ticket to see Don Giovanni this weekend. This will be the first time I've been to see an Opera that I am somewhat familiar with already (well, except the 2nd time I saw the Magic Flute, for obvious reasons...)
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Re: Operatics!

Postby JayDee » Sat May 29, 2010 1:50 pm UTC

I saw Carmen tonight. Great show. I knew it was an important part of the repertoire but I couldn't name a single song that was in it (of course I ended up knowing three or four of them.)

It was a local production, much smaller than the shows I've seen over the last two years (all at the Sydney Opera House) which is a lot of fun. So close to the stage!

The Carmen was stunning, and both her and the Don José could sing.

From what I could tell, half the audience at least was there because they knew someone in the production. There were even two little girls (eight years?) seated behind me - who thought it was awesome and wanted moresome - and dozens of high school age folk. I think there were only four other guys in suits.

Sung in English, which didn't end up bothering me. Only occasionally sounded awkwardly like a translation. If I'd known it was, though, I'd've not bought the tickets - won't make that mistake of being overly fussy again.
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Re: Operatics!

Postby modularblues » Sat May 29, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

Saw Carmen performed by my high school music group, which was rather good actually. My goal is to go to a live one sometime. I'm a sucker for arias.

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Re: Operatics!

Postby ChocloManx » Sun May 30, 2010 11:10 pm UTC

I've been to the opera once, to see Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle and an opera by an Italian composer whose name I can't remember. It was pretty alright, but I didn't fall in love with the genre. Although I recently listened to Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande and I loved it completely. I wish they would play it in my city sometime soon.
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Re: Operatics!

Postby ikrase » Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:24 pm UTC

I really like operas, and some other forms of culture that were most popular greater than 1 human lifetime ago.
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Re: Operatics!

Postby meatyochre » Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:44 pm UTC

Yeah!! Love the opera. I went to the Chicago Lyric for the first time a few months back because my boyfriend's brother and his brother's girlfriend were performing in their Rising Stars program (mostly mid-20-somethings, all extremely talented of course). And his girlfriend just got picked up by the New York Met this summer. They're both such good singers but extremely down-to-earth people. I love them, and the opera! :D

When I went it wasn't a typical opera with one overarching story. It was more like a recital where they took turns singing songs from different operas, sometimes in pairs or groups and sometimes individually. One song the two of them were in was so hilarious, I have no idea what opera it was from. But it was about a woman who wants basically to go out and party and leave her husband at home, and he laments how he loves her (and her beauty) but he can't keep control of her. The thing that stuck in my memory most was him yelling in Italian, "DIVORCIO! Ayyyy, divorcio!" and fake-crying.... hehehe

I think my 2nd favorite part, after the singing, is the translation supertitles (I'd say subtitles but they're at the top! so they're super) that scroll above the stage during the show. Even dummies like me who only speak English can actually understand what's going on!
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Re: Operatics!

Postby ikrase » Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:06 pm UTC

Actually, it can be hard to understand really dramatic singing even in your language.
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Re: Operatics!

Postby PlayingMonkey » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:18 am UTC

For Operas I cannot recommend ALL Mozart Opera's highly enough. They are INCREDIBLY fantastic operas, my favorite being "The Magic Flute" and "Don Giovanni". All of his operas are very much worth looking up, and I believe some of them are on DVD to watch. After Mozart I would suggest the Italians. While difficult to listen to due to language, they have absurdly funny plots and catchy songs. They are frequently in movies. Composers I would suggest are Bellini, Puccini, and possibly Monteverdi. They are the most well known Italians.

As for arias and singers, the only one I know is to find Maria Callas, as she was considered one of THE top opera performers of her time, and all singers really love her. I am not a singer so I don't know as much, but it's worth checking out.
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Re: Operatics!

Postby podbaydoor » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:45 pm UTC

Tosca is a great introductory opera. I like to Youtube clips of the version they did with Domingo in Italy, where they filmed everything in the same locations and roughly the same times as in the libretto. Great stuff.

Favorite opera of all time is Rossini's "Barber of Seville." And favorite version of it is the Metropolitan performance in 2007 (ish?) with Juan Diego Florez and Peter Mattei.

If Felstaff is still paying attention to this thread, may I suggest "Falstaff" for another opera?
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Felstaff
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Re: Operatics!

Postby Felstaff » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:25 pm UTC

Indeed I am. When this thread was resurrected a few weeks ago, I immediately went to see what was on at the Royal Opera House. Sadly every single performance of everything was sold out, except for a few £600 tickets (I sure hope you get a foot massage included for that price).

So I found a performance of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra for free! Tomorrow!

I'm so going.
I'm so going.
I'm so going.
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Re: Operatics!

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:56 am UTC

I'm lucky, I live in a college town with a very decently sized college, so student productions get put on here and there. I haven't been taking advantage of the free performances nearly enough.

If anyone gets a chance, they should definitely go see any production of the Monkey King (occasionally the Peking Opera will tour, I think). It's one of my earliest memories, and it's a great way to be introduced to non-Western opera.
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