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Thread: Did your interest in opera distract from other genres of classical music?

  1. #1
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    Default Did your interest in opera distract from other genres of classical music?

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    It is something I'm experiencing. Opera is so much diffrent from the rest of classical music that sometimes I think that if there wouldn't be connection coming from the fact that most of composers that wrote great operas were the same fellows who contributed to other genres, there would be clear partition between "classical music" and "opera" listeners. These are like two vast areas and it's rare to find person who is active listener of both.

    I used to have great interest is piano stuff, now I feel that my knowledge about pianists got backward in comparison with opera performers because I know all major contemporary singers while when it comes to pianists I can hardly think of any whose style I could describe and give opinion. Of course I already estabilished my taste, I have my favourite recordings and know my share about great figures so there is no regression but I feel that my familiarity with the subject heavily lags behind since I undertook serious interest in opera.

    Operas are long, listening to them is musically exhausting and these days I hardly can find some time to check out new symphonies, concertos or works of chamber music which used to be 99% of my listening time some time ago. To put it simple, the more I'm into opera the less I'm into all the rest of classical music.

    While thinking about our community I get impression that I'm not the only one. Regular posters in opera section rarely or never discuss elsewhere (except community forum, but it doesn't count). Isn't Almaviva the guy who could ask "never heard of the man, did he write any operas?" when asked about Chopin, Brahms, Mahler or Liszt? Or about Richter, Mutter, Maisky, Rampal?

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    Last edited by Aramis; Oct-30-2011 at 11:25.

  2. #2
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    The Arab's ruler son option is attractive enough, but I'll go for the "No" instead.

    I don't limit my classical musical exposure to Opera. In fact, my first love were other genres, and Opera came later, already well into my teens, as an acquired taste after repeated exposure to Norma, Aida, Carmen, ... recordings.

  3. #3
    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Speaking for myself, I dabbled in Opera early in the days of my first exposure to Classical Music-- but absorbed Symphonies, Concertos, Sonatas et al more spiritedly.

    Somewhile later, my enthusiasm for Opera increased... but to describe myself as an "Opera enthusiast" would be about as accurate as calling myself a "Symphony enthusiast."

    So... what's the question? Has my interest in many of the very best Operas detracted from opportunities to absorb second-tier Orchestral and Chamber works? Why, yes... I'd have to confess that it has.

    Guilty as charged.
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

  4. #4
    Junior Member Festat's Avatar
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    Although I voted for no, I could say yes, it does distract me from everything else — not only other genres of classical music, from everything at all — but only for a while.
    I have phases during which I'm completely immersed in a specific genre or period, which may or may not belong or relate to music, although they often do, along with film, which I study, and still photography.
    These phases may last weeks or years, but eventually the craze will fade, usually once I had a rather extensive experience in the subject and my tastes are solidly established, and I come back to my normal life of music/movie/photography appreciation with a considerably larger amount of knowledge and a considerably smaller amount of money and HD space than I had before.
    Most times the interest strongly persists, but it turns into a healthy habit rather than an obsession.

    This is just me, though, getting into my very own opera mania just now.

    Edit: The phase may occasionally come back one or more times and turn into a cycle, like me and bebop.
    Last edited by Festat; Oct-30-2011 at 13:18.
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    Senior Member waldvogel's Avatar
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    The difference between an opera and an oratorio is the presence of sets and costumes. On a CD, who knows?
    The difference between an oratorio and a cantata is essentially, length.
    If you listen to cantatas, you probably love Bach, and also listen to his non-vocal pieces.
    If you like non-vocal classical music, you've got the whole territory covered.

    So the leap isn't that big...
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  6. #6
    Senior Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Although I prefer vocal music to instrumental music, I still enjoy listening to the latter. (If Beethoven wrote it, I love it!) And though most of the vocal music to which I listen is opera, I also enjoy oratorios, Lieder, masses by Mozart and Haydn, songs by Stephen Foster, popular songs from the (American) Civil War, and the traditioinal German Weihnachtslieder (Christmnas carols).

  7. #7
    Super Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    I started out as a Classical music enthusiast and then got into opera, although in my first phase in the 80s I still maintained my interest in instrumental music.

    When I came to NZ my interest in opera died down considerably as there was so little opportunity to attend it live. I also started learning to play the piano and discovered Scarlatti.

    It was my realisation that there are a lot of fantastic DVDs out there that revived my interest in opera. Now I listen to nothing else, even Domenico lies languishing on my shelves. As Aramis says, operas are so long, and there are so many I don't know at all or at least don't know well, that it consumes every moment of my watching/listening. I would only make an exception for Handel oratorios and for lieder, and the odd Bach cantata (but no, not his instrumental music any longer).
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    Isn't Almaviva the guy who could ask "never heard of the man, did he write any operas?" when asked about Chopin, Brahms, Mahler or Liszt?
    No, I actually have a long relationship with classical music since I was a pre-teenager. I own (or used to - I gave away my vinyl collection to a nephew) all the essential works, and much later I got into opera. I regularly attend live symphonic and chamber concerts, and I still have both CDs and DVDs or various symphonies, sonatas, etc.

    However these days I *do* love opera far - very very far - beyond any other genre.

    The reason why I don't post in other classical music fora is because I'm busy enough here, and thanks to moderation tasks, I wouldn't be able to follow any discussion outside of the two areas in which I was given moderation responsibilities (opera and the community forum).

    Rest assured that I'd not say that I've never heard of Chopin, Brahms, Mahler, or Liszt.
    Last edited by Almaviva; Oct-31-2011 at 16:25.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  9. #9
    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Just for the record, Liszt did actually compose an opera (in his teens) & when he was here, the pianist Leslie Howard said that it has been produced recently (I'm not sure if it's been recorded as yet, though)...
    Contrasts and Connections in Music

    "When reason and instinct are reconciled, there will be no higher appeal" - Rameau.

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    Liszt also did piano transcriptions of other people's opera works.

    Yes, my study of opera has taken me away from other classical music genres, yes.

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  12. #12
    Senior Member BalloinMaschera's Avatar
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    My first encounters with classical music were at home as a child, I suppose- piano lessons, chamber music, symphony concerts and opera performances attended as a family etc...

    I did however, still as a child develop a penchant for opera, and for a while, I almost exclusively listened to opera...

    I guess it was as a student in college that I re-discovered non-operatic classical music. I found non-operatic music better to listen to, while studying, as I concentrate on the music much more when listening to opera; non-operatic music was better for studying (less singing along).

    Now I appreciate both equally, and will attend/purchase non-operatic classical music concerts as well as operatic.

    Today, my music collection is certainly not restricted to opera, and includes symphonies, concertos, chamber music, etc.

    These days, I also don't sing along much, anymore. I do a lot more conducting in my head.
    Last edited by BalloinMaschera; Oct-31-2011 at 16:16.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sieglinde's Avatar
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    I never cared for other genres before opera. I need my vox humana and my plot or I'm not interested.

  14. #14
    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
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    Just starting to get into opera now thanks to Mama and Annie!
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    Senior Member GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    I enjoy both vocal and instrumental equally. While there are a number of operas I really enjoy there are also those, often by the same composer I do not care for. It would be reasonable to say that I enjoy Lieder, Oratorio and Cantatas more in most cases. It depends to a large measure on my mood. For relaxation I prefer orchestral pieces or chamber. and of course Organ or Harpsichord. I also like small Jazz groups but cannot stand Jazz vocals. Strange, aren't I?
    Rob

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