Hello, everyone I am new to this forum and this is my first post.
I've been following some threads on this forum for quite a time now and I am very impressed and happy to have found a place where true opera lovers are gathered. As I am completely new to the field of opera, I was hoping that maybe you could recommend something to me.
I started to listen and watch opera very recently, to my great surprise, because I must admit I was never a fan of operatic singing and never thought I would be drawn to it one day. I only listened occasionally to a couple of very recognizable and rather "obvious" pieces like "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" from Carmen or "Belle nuit, o nuit d'amour" from Les Contes d'Hoffmann. I play piano and I like classical music a lot, it's just opera that I never really used to like...
Until one day, about a month ago I became suddenly fascinated with Queen of the Night's "Der Holle Rache" aria from Die Zauberflote. I remembered hearing it long time ago when I watched the famous Milos Forman's film Amadeus and I started to search for this aria on youtube. I came across the very well known (I guess) performance by Diana Damrau in 2003 production at Covent Garden and it completely blew me away! I would never expect any operatic piece to have such an impact on me, I couldn't resist watching and hearing it over and over again and the acting and the interpretation of this role had me overwhelmed.
After that I searched a litlle for Die Zauberflote, read a synopsis and became very interested. Luckily I could find the whole opera on youtube, exactly the one with Damrau and I watched it despite the fact the quality was not great, in fact the whole act 2 has video and sound badly synchronized, but anyway I was so drawn do it that it didn't matter and I watched the whole thing. And I fell immediately in love with it.
As I was curious what other productions of Die Zauberflote might be like, I watched 2 more versions that were available on youtube, one from 2001 Paris with Piotr Beczala and Desiree Rancatore and then the one form Salzburg Festival conducted by Muti. They didn't appeal to me as much as the first one, I definitely preferred the rather dark and "serious" staging, but anyway I fount it to be a wonderful experience and also I discovered that I love the music itself more and more every time. Die Zauberflote became my little addiction, I would search the internet for all availabale renditions and would listen and watch my favourite fragments repeatedly.
Naturally I wanted to try out some other operas and I chose Carmen because I already knew some fragments. I was very lucky to find a new MET production with Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna on youtube and I loved it for the most part. I was utterly impressed by such pieces as "Pres des remparts de Seville" or "Les tringles des sistres tantaient" and now I am listening to them very often.
Today I have just watched MET's Don Pasquale with Anna Netrebko and I also liked it a lot. I didn't find the music so compelling as in the two operas I watched previously but it was definitely worth it just for the magnificent cast and it was a very enjoyable experience on the whole.
Right now I am a little confused. I would definitely want to continue my adventure with opera after this little introduction I have had. But I don't have the slightest idea what to decide on, there is some much to choose from, even on youtube...
What could you recommend to a newbie like myself? I lived in many years with a conviction that opera is boring and I will never get to like it. Now I see that it has changed, however I guess there are some operas in existence that could easily discourage me. I assume I have a rather simple taste... I have described briefly what I liked - what do you think could be the next step one for me? I must admit that I'm a little bored by long recitatives that drag on, especially male ones. I tried to watch Le Nozze di Figaro but for some reason I gave up after the first act. Maybe it wasn't a particularly good day for me or something, I don't really know. Or perhaps I chose badly. The one I started watching was Salzburg production conducted by Harnoncourt, with Netrebko and Dorothea Roschmann.
I assume I am rather floating towards newer productions because the video and sound quality seem better, but maybe it is just my feeling. And also, I noticed that I am automatically more willing to see an opera that has a singer I already know and like in it, rather than to one where the whole cast is completely new to me.
As I don't want to spend much money on DVD's - unfortunately they are quite expensive - and there doesn't seem to be anything particularly interesting going on in the opera theatre where I live, could you recommend any particular production watchable online? I know there are really many. Or perhaps some CD recordings which in your opinion are worth having? As for now, however, I think the best way for me to be accquainted with a new thing is to watch a DVD, perhaps a CD after that to get to know the music better.
I would be most grateful to hear some of your suggestions. Thank you very much in advance.
Also, I am very sorry for any mistakes. English is not my mother tongue and I have not used it for quite a long time. I hope it is not so awful to read...
With best regards,