Swithin

Opera!

92 posts in this topic

Licia Albanese, one of the great opera singers, celebrated her 101st birthday this week. In her honor, I begin this thread devoted to her artform. On a less festive note, it looks like the Metropolitan Opera may go on strike; but let's be positive and celebrate with Licia. Here is a rare clip of her singing at a conductor's 1969 birthday party, with Richard Tucker. It's the drinking song from La Traviata.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Licia Albanese, one of the great opera singers, celebrated her 100th birthday this week. In her honor, I begin this thread devoted to her artform. On a less festive note, it looks like the Metropolitan Opera may go on strike; but let's be positive and celebrate with Licia. Here is a rare clip of her singing at a conductor's 1969 birthday party, with Richard Tucker. It's the drinking song from La Traviata.

 

 

Hi Swithin

 

According to Wiki, she was 101 on July 22, a great way to kickoff the thread. Sorry to say, I don't know her but I read a little and will do some listening on youtube. Nice video, good to see these folks in such an informal setting.

 

I hope the Met can avert the strike. The repercussions are severe. The opera company in my own yard, The San Diego Opera, barely avoided extinction in weeks past and will continue for at least another year with an abbreviated season, three operas instead of five. My sister has become an avid opera fan in just the last few months and I was sad that the loss of the opera company might have deprived her a chance of seeing an opera in a major setting. But now that it is on again, I have gleefully responded (despite the hit on the pocketbook) with season tickets for the both of us. She is very excited. We have La Boheme, Don Giovanni, and Nixon in China coming up after the first of the year. This last was debuted by the Houston Opera and was televised (therefore there may be a DVD) some years ago, I remember liking it although I'm not especially crazy about 'modern' operas (But I like A Streetcar Named Desire by Andre Previn, I think there is DVD with Renee Fleming).

 

Thanks for the news and vid on Licia, I'll check her out at the library, see if they have anything. I have the iPod Classic, 160GB of capacity, mostly classical with some Jazz, but lots of opera too, including complete operas. So I'm looking forward to possibly adding a little Licia to the mix. Thanks for the thread. Vive l'Opera !!!!

==

 

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Swithin

 

According to Wiki, she was 101 on July 22, a great way to kickoff the thread. Sorry to say, I don't know her but I read a little and will do some listening on youtube. Nice video, good to see these folks in such an informal setting.

 

Thanks Lafitte, I heard about her birthday from a cellist at the Met, and yes, it's 101! I've corrected that in my post. I live quite near the Met and hope the strike is averted. I only got to one opera there this past season -- Prince Igor. I really miss the New York City Opera. I used to go there more regularly when I was in my 20s, as it was so affordable! Those were the days when Beverly Sills was singing there regularly. Sad that NYCO folded. In addition to their classic operas, I went to their new operas, many of which were quite powerful, even if the music was not always to my taste. I'm going to London in the autumn. The Royal Opera is doing I Due Foscari, an early Verdi opera with which I am not familiar (with Placido Domingo). I do like early Verdi and may try to go. But I hope the Met strike is averted. I remember the biggest ovation I ever witnessed at the Met. It was during Il Trovatore, when Monserrat Caballe sang "D'amor sull'ali rose."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not an opera buff here, so I'll derail this thread a bit and mention it being MICK JAGGER'S birthday today! :D

 

Sepiatone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

 

Thanks Lafitte, I heard about her birthday from a cellist at the Met, and yes, it's 101! I've corrected that in my post. I live quite near the Met and hope the strike is averted. I only got to one opera there this past season -- Prince Igor. I really miss the New York City Opera. I used to go there more regularly when I was in my 20s, as it was so affordable! Those were the days when Beverly Sills was singing there regularly. Sad that NYCO folded. In addition to their classic operas, I went to their new operas, many of which were quite powerful, even if the music was not always to my taste. I'm going to London in the autumn. The Royal Opera is doing I Due Foscari, an early Verdi opera with which I am not familiar (with Placido Domingo). I do like early Verdi and may try to go. But I hope the Met strike is averted. I remember the biggest ovation I ever witnessed at the Met. It was during Il Trovatore, when Monserrat Caballe sang "D'amor sull'ali rose."

 

There is a very good Foscari on DVD, with Nucci, La Scola, and Pendatchanska (whew!) that you might enjoy. I feel (and you probably agree) that at least some familiarity is a good thing prior to the opera house, the opposite for movies where the less you know, the better. I think you'll enjoy both DVD and live performance, if you can get to it. Very entertaining. With Placido, you say ... wow, he's getting up there, he's over 70, probably a good role for him now, not so challenging as some (I think). He has taken to singing baritone roles in his old age. I hope you see it, Swithin, you might check into it early, Placido will be a tremendous draw (despite his fading star).

 

I never attended the NYCO but there were TV broadcasts once in a while. Beverly Sills was head of NYCO, but did she sing that much then, I didn't realize that. I attended a number of Met operas in the 80s. I paid $80 for a Grand Tier seat, probably four times that amount today.

 

Another grand dame of the opera is Magda Oliverio, who was 104 earlier this year. Her name might not have the visibility that some of her contemporaries but she was quite a bona fide star. She sang with Mario Del Monaco, Tito Gobbi, and Luciano in his early days, a fine lineup of co-stars. I should try and find something on uTube. She sang verismo roles and I think Tosca was popular with her.

 

Oh, this is fun talking about this stuff ...

 

==

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for starting this topic.  One of my favorites is Alban Berg's Lulu.  I found a great clip of opera singer Barbara Hannigan giving a talk about preparing for her role, and how deeply it affected her:

 

 

 

I could only find a small clip from the opera:

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Lafitte: I have a friend who was mad about Magda Olivero. She (my friend) now runs a home for distressed cats  in Upstate New York. I will try to find the DVD of Foscari in the library. Prices are steep at Covent Garden, and I want to be sure if I go, I like the music! (I can sing the last chorus of I Lombardi, another early Verdi, because I used to listen to the recording a lot.)

 

GayDivorcee:  You probably know that Lulu was partly based on the same play that was filmed as Pandora's Box.

 

As I said, the only opera I went to this past season was Prince Igor, which has come up in the increasingly bitter negotiations. The General Manager (Peter Gelb) of the Met wants certain cuts/givebacks from the unions; the unions have said that Gelb has been spending way to much money and cite the poppy field in Prince Igor, which cost $169,000. Well, it was pretty!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Lafitte: I have a friend who was mad about Magda Olivero. She (my friend) now runs a home for distressed cats  in Upstate New York. I will try to find the DVD of Foscari in the library. Prices are steep at Covent Garden, and I want to be sure if I go, I like the music! (I can sing the last chorus of I Lombardi, another early Verdi, because I used to listen to the recording a lot.)

 

GayDivorcee:  You probably know that Lulu was partly based on the same play that was filmed as Pandora's Box.

 

As I said, the only opera I went to this past season was Prince Igor, which has come up in the increasingly bitter negotiations. The General Manager (Peter Gelb) of the Met wants certain cuts/givebacks from the unions; the unions have said that Gelb has been spending way to much money and cite the poppy field in Prince Igor, which cost $169,000. Well, it was pretty!

Yes, I think that's what interested me in Lulu at first, but the difficult music fascinated me.

 

By the way, great respect to your friend who helps distressed cats.  Hats off to her and all who are involved in such work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Lafitte: I have a friend who was mad about Magda Olivero. She (my friend) now runs a home for distressed cats  in Upstate New York. I will try to find the DVD of Foscari in the library. Prices are steep at Covent Garden, and I want to be sure if I go, I like the music! (I can sing the last chorus of I Lombardi, another early Verdi, because I used to listen to the recording a lot.)

 

GayDivorcee:  You probably know that Lulu was partly based on the same play that was filmed as Pandora's Box.

 

As I said, the only opera I went to this past season was Prince Igor, which has come up in the increasingly bitter negotiations. The General Manager (Peter Gelb) of the Met wants certain cuts/givebacks from the unions; the unions have said that Gelb has been spending way to much money and cite the poppy field in Prince Igor, which cost $169,000. Well, it was pretty!

 

Swithin, Domingo sings the baritone role in this Foscari (as I just now learned. In my previous post I said something about Domingo singing baritone at times due to his age, but I was still under the impression that he would be tenor in Foscari. Not so.). I don't know how you feel about that. I probably wouldn't go myself, but that's me. I want a real baritone especially for that kind of money. Here is a clip, have a listen. He doesn't sound all that bad, I guess ... but not for me.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6s-rqM29x5s

 

Re the Met problems, it annoys me no end, considering all their financial problems, that they would spend $16 million for that whaddyacallit contraption used in the recent Ring cycle. I've only seen Rheingold (in one of those theater presentations) and didn't care for it. This "thing" dominated the stage restricting whatever movements the director of the opera might have had the singers do. As a result so much of the time they are just standing around. Some of the singers were tethered to rope coming from above to keep them from sliding down the slope when the silly thing was at an angle. Anyway, in view of the possible impending lockout, the expense of that monstrosity is particularly galling. Just for the record, I much prefer the preceding Ring Cycle, done in 1990-91. It was a traditional stage setting and just excelled in every way. I have the complete set on DVD, just love it. The new more recent Ring with this ---thing (I forget the name for it)--- is sadly lacking, although I haven't seen the whole cycle.

 

GayDivorcee, thanks so much for the clips on Lulu. I admit it, I don't know this opera but I need to take the plunge on this sooner or later. I didn't listen to all of the talk but I listened to some of it. I'll try to finish it. I'm glad you put it up there. FWIW, I do like Berg's non-operatic music, some of it at least. Most of his compositions are rather short, and he uses that 12-tone system that gives the music an atonal, extremely modern sound, some of it quite okay to my ears.

 

Obrienmundy, those are couple of winners, two of the most popular operas ever written. I love them both too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a very good Foscari on DVD, with Nucci, La Scola, and Pendatchanska (whew!) that you might enjoy. 

 

Thanks for the clip, the work actually appeals to me. I checked my local library's online catalog -- the DVD you mention is on the shelf, as well as a DVD of an earlier production (La Scala 1988); and a CD of a third production. If I like the opera, whether I go will depend upon the availability of good seats on a convenient day.  They are also doing Idomeneo and Manon. I've seen the former only once and don't remember much about it; the latter was one of Sills' best performances which I enjoyed. London's other company -- the ENO -- will be doing Boheme, Figaro, and The Girl of the Golden West, but I don't think I'll have time for those.

 

Regarding the Ring cycle, I used to go to see Birgit Nilsson as Brunhilde at the Met when I could. Sometimes I would just get standing room and go for the last act of Siegfried. I do like some -- not all -- of the Ring but think the last act of Siegfried, from the awakening of Brunhilde to the end of the opera is quite spectacular, if the singers are up to it. A friend in London recently showed me an excerpt from a Ring DVD. The Rhine Maidens were in a water tank. It looked interesting, but I don't remember the details, it was a German production, I think.

 

This just in -- The New York Times has reported that the great tenor Carlo Bergonzi has died in Milan on Friday at the age of 90. His performance in Foscari is documented on CD as are numerous other works which display his artistry.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the clip, the work actually appeals to me. I checked my local library's online catalog -- the DVD you mention is on the shelf, as well as a DVD of an earlier production (La Scala 1988); and a CD of a third production. If I like the opera, whether I go will depend upon the availability of good seats on a convenient day.

 

Swithin, I sense most emphatically that you will indeed like the opera. I base this on my own reaction to the first time I saw it. Some operas need warming up to but this was immensely satisfying from the get-go. Leo Nucci, baritone, sings the Doge on the DVD I recommended and he really nails it. As you probably know, he has been a fixture on the opera scene for decades and decades and is turning into a marvel of career longevity. This April past, he sang Rigoletto at the age of 72, which is simply remarkable. I'm pulling back on my earlier statement that I might eschew a performance by Domingo singing this role, I'm not so sure about that. I might enjoy that very much. La Scola, the tenor, (on the DVD) sounds great and I was shocked to learn recently that he died of a heart attack at the age of 53.

 

They are also doing Idomeneo and Manon. I've seen the former only once and don't remember much about it; the latter was one of Sills' best performances which I enjoyed. London's other company -- the ENO -- will be doing Boheme, Figaro, and The Girl of the Golden West, but I don't think I'll have time for those.

 

It might amuse those who don't know much about opera that The Girl of the Golden West is the ultimate spaghetti Western. An Italian opera that has the Old West as a setting. Yup, there they are on stage, but instead of saying "I reckon this ... " or "this town ain't big enough for the both of us ..." they're singing opera in the traditional Italian grand style (high-falutin cowboys, to say the least.) Yes, it's a little jarring at first, there is the obvious in-congruence, but one gets through it without too much suspension of disbelief. It has one famous tenor aria and a really gripping scene (to my mind) but overall, alas, not one of my favorites, despite being composed by one of the most recognizably great names of opera composers, Giacomo Puccini.

 

Regarding the Ring cycle, I used to go to see Birgit Nilsson as Brunhilde at the Met when I could. Sometimes I would just get standing room and go for the last act of Siegfried. I do like some -- not all -- of the Ring but think the last act of Siegfried, from the awakening of Brunhilde to the end of the opera is quite spectacular, if the singers are up to it.

 

...and that scene is followed up in the next and last opera of the cycle, Gotterdammerung, where in the second scene of the prologue, same scene, same setting, same characters, they sing their fiery love duet, again 'quite spectacular.' Nilsson is of course a quintessential Brunhilde, the perfect voice for her. I envy you for having been able to see her in person on stage.

 

A friend in London recently showed me an excerpt from a Ring DVD. The Rhine Maidens were in a water tank. It looked interesting, but I don't remember the details, it was a German production, I think.

 

Arrgh! This opens the door for the inevitable, seeming never ending discussion on unorthodox settings for traditional operas. Just to say that I am definitely old school on this question. I mentioned elsewhere, prior to this thread, about the Madame Butterfly that had all the singers dressed up as insects. I have caps that I might post sometimes. Just awful IMO.

 

This just in -- The New York Times has reported that the great tenor Carlo Bergonzi has died in Milan on Friday at the age of 90. His performance in Foscari is documented on CD as are numerous other works which display his artistry.

 

Did not know this, shocked! Well, at least he was 90. A great one passing. I may want to do a short separate post on him. When he was on, he sounded as good as anyone. I might try and find a short vid or audio clip. Great sound. He owns a restaurant in Italy that is called, coincidentally, I Due Foscari. RIP Carlo Bergonzi.

 

PS This opera is getting a lot of play in the early going of this thread, eh Swithin. I certainly hope you follow up on this. This opera was written right on the cusp of Verdi's so-called Second Period, which comprise his most famous and well-known operas, Traviata, Trovatore, and Rigoletto. But there's no need to rely on that to want to decide about this opera, it stands on its on laurels. A relatively simple story as operas go, but great singing parts, very satisfying. I hope you can get the Nucci version, I can personally vouch for that one.

 

EDIT:

 

Hey, Carlo ...

 

"Celestia Aida" from Aida (Verdi)

 

 

Thanks, Carlo ... thanks ...

==

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

"This Is Cinerama" (1952) includes the Triumphal March from Aida as performed at Milan's historic la Scala Opera House.

 

3581_tn.jpg

 

 

 

 The movie "Highlander II The Renegade Version" (1991) has a very nice opera opening.  

 

nZoiCyU.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When my mother was growing up in the 1930s she collected post cards of opera stars.  She wrote to the Met and was sent autographed cards by the greats of that era.  She had a lovely collection she kept in a box, a treasure trove, still in their original envelopes, that survived many moves and about 70 years.  When she became ill there were new people in the house and the box disappeared.  I feel sick about it, but am relieved that due to her condition she was unaware that this happened.  I still look on eBay for them, as many had her name on the cards. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to give anyone who might be interested a "heads up":

 

For several years, Cineplex Theatres has had some kind of deal with the New York Metropolitan Opera Company. When there's a live opera being performed at the Met, it gets "streamed" onto selected Cineplex screens.

If you miss that, the operas are recorded, and you can catch them again at an "Encore" performance, again, at certain Cineplex Theatres.

While obviously not the same as attending the Met live, it's a great( and fairly inexpensive) way to see some wonderful operas in your own town.

The Met has a fabulous line-up this season. Here's a link about it. No, not a link to The Met. A link to Cineplex's "Live at the Met" schedule.

 

http://www.cineplex.com/Events/MetOpera

 

ps: One of the operas this season is "The Merry Widow". I understand they're showing it on a double bill with "Shadow of a Doubt".

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to give anyone who might be interested a "heads up":

 

For several years, Cineplex Theatres has had some kind of deal with the New York Metropolitan Opera Company. When there's a live opera being performed at the Met, it gets "streamed" onto selected Cineplex screens.

If you miss that, the operas are recorded, and you can catch them again at an "Encore" performance, again, at certain Cineplex Theatres.

While obviously not the same as attending the Met live, it's a great( and fairly inexpensive) way to see some wonderful operas in your own town.

The Met has a fabulous line-up this season. Here's a link about it. No, not a link to The Met. A link to Cineplex's "Live at the Met" schedule.

 

http://www.cineplex.com/Events/MetOpera

 

ps: One of the operas this season is "The Merry Widow". I understand they're showing it on a double bill with "Shadow of a Doubt".

They should show them together!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to give anyone who might be interested a "heads up":

 

For several years, Cineplex Theatres has had some kind of deal with the New York Metropolitan Opera Company. When there's a live opera being performed at the Met, it gets "streamed" onto selected Cineplex screens.

If you miss that, the operas are recorded, and you can catch them again at an "Encore" performance, again, at certain Cineplex Theatres.

While obviously not the same as attending the Met live, it's a great( and fairly inexpensive) way to see some wonderful operas in your own town.

The Met has a fabulous line-up this season. Here's a link about it. No, not a link to The Met. A link to Cineplex's "Live at the Met" schedule.

 

http://www.cineplex.com/Events/MetOpera

 

ps: One of the operas this season is "The Merry Widow". I understand they're showing it on a double bill with "Shadow of a Doubt".

 

Thanks, MWT!

 

Over the last three or four years I’ve attended some of the local operas (we have two major ones fairly close), and I have spent some time perusing the Met’s site. I saw the theater simulcast option, but hadn’t given it much thought.

 

Since I’m relatively new to opera as a whole – I am aware of many of the arias, but not so much with the various libretti – I am getting my feet wet by researching and attending the operas I know the most about, primarily based on the music I like. I’ve been waiting for productions of I Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana (Cav and Pag) to come to town, but so far, no dice. I see the Met is simulcasting their 2015 production of them this year, as well as a few other operas that are on my list. I think I’ll see if I can find a theatre near me to see these productions.

 

Thanks again!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're welcome, Notan.

 

I meant to mention, in that post, that I was not sure if Cineplex Theatres had a presence in the States. (I'm Canadian- although I'm not sure if Cineplex is available in other provinces either. There are a lot of them in Ontario.)

 

Still, now that I think about it, it makes sense for the Met to make their performances available to all cinema chains in North America; they probably "stream" their operas to a lot of movie theatres, not just Cineplex.

 

By the way, looks like the Met has a great season lined up. I'm especially interested to see they're doing "Tales of Hoffman", which has a fascinating story, and almost ridiculously accessible music. Even people who don't like or know anything about opera will recognize a lot of the tunes from this Offenbach treat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our big movie chains have changed names over the years. There was Loew's, which became Cineplex Odeon, then became Sony, and is now AMC Loew's! (I'm not sure of the order. I think they do show some of the Met HD broadcasts.

 

Even though I live less than ten minutes walk form the Met, my local movie theater, the Walter Reade movie theater of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is showing Die Meistersinger from the Met a couple of times in the next few days.

 

There are a lot of opera performances on YouTube. I've been meaning to watch this one: Il Trovatore from Salzburg. Maybe not for purists, but it sure looks interesting!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN1-3QWSWw8

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're welcome, Notan.

 

I meant to mention, in that post, that I was not sure if Cineplex Theatres had a presence in the States. (I'm Canadian- although I'm not sure if Cineplex is available in other provinces either. There are a lot of them in Ontario.)

 

Still, now that I think about it, it makes sense for the Met to make their performances available to all cinema chains in North America; they probably "stream" their operas to a lot of movie theatres, not just Cineplex.

 

By the way, looks like the Met has a great season lined up. I'm especially interested to see they're doing "Tales of Hoffman", which has a fascinating story, and almost ridiculously accessible music. Even people who don't like or know anything about opera will recognize a lot of the tunes from this Offenbach treat.

 

Whew! I’m glad you mentioned that about Cineplex. I checked their site for what I thought was my area and found that none of the operas were being streamed here. I got a little sad for a minute -- almost had to get my frowny face out.

 

I checked the Met’s site for their “Live in HD” in my area and found several theaters – great prices, too (compared to a seat at the local operas).

 

Yes, the Met’s season does look great. I’ll have to learn more about Tales of Hoffman. The seasons at the two local operas have one opera each that I’d like to see, but I am unfamiliar with the other operas they’re producing.

 

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...

 

Even though I live less than ten minutes walk form the Met, my local movie theater, the Walter Reade movie theater of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is showing Die Meistersinger from the Met a couple of times in the next few days.

 

There are a lot of opera performances on YouTube. I've been meaning to watch this one: Il Trovatore from Salzburg. Maybe not for purists, but it sure looks interesting!

 

 

I’d love to get to the Met one day and see any of my favorite operas. Come to think of it, I’d love to see all of my favorite operas in the great venues of the countries of the opera’s origin (or language), Teatro alla Scala being high on the list.

 

Don’t you just love YouTube?! It is such an excellent resource!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Attended San Diego Opera's La Boheme earlier this evening, done for the most part quite well by a young but experienced cast. These tickets were bought last April when it was learned that the San Diego Opera was not going to fold after all and that a new season, albeit an abbreviated one, was in the offing. I went with my sister who recently retired and has become enthusiastic about opera and this was her first ever opera. Imagine if you will what if felt like as a child waking up Christmas morning, unbridled joy! That was my sister tonight at the opera, it was as much fun seeing her reaction to the proceedings than the proceedings itself. We gave Upper Loge seats all the way down front, we are along the side wall and elevated, seeming to hover stage right just above the orchestra and stage, wonderful for hearing and seeing. In three weeks, it's Don Giovanni, rather a contrast to Boheme, looking forward to it. The third (and last) opera of the season will be Nixon in China,, which I remember seeing on TV in 1987 when it got it's World Premiere by the Houston Opera.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us