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Thread: Opera for Opera Haters

  1. #1
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    Default Opera for Opera Haters

    Hi, friends,
    Basically, I do not like opera, esp. not Italian operas. However, there are exceptional operas which I do like, even love, and would like to recommend to people like me - and ask for an advice.

    My favorite operas are:

    Mussorgsky, Boris Godunov (amazing masterpiece!!! one in a million!! leaves all the rest far far behind!)
    Offenbach, Tales of Hoffmann (very very different from the previous one, but lovely!)
    Mussorgsky, The Sorotchintsy Fare (hardly played, but very nice).

    Mozart's Magic Fulte is also fun.

    If you got my favourite style(s), I will be glad to have your recommendations for similar works!

    Thanks!

    Benny
    Last edited by Benny; Feb-05-2013 at 11:04.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Wagner? how about Lohengrin?
    if you like Hoffman, how about Faust?

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    Senior Member deggial's Avatar
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    how's about the rest of Mozart's operas? or they're a no-no because of the language? when you said no to Italian opera it wasn't clear to me if you meant Italian composers or any opera sung in Italian. How about French opera? Have you tried Gounod or Berlioz? Berlioz is such an interesting composer And how about the Strausses? or the other Russian operas?

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    Senior Member Hesoos's Avatar
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    That's very difficult...
    1813 - 2013 Verdi and Wagner 200 years

  6. #5
    DrMike
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    The only operas I really enjoy are Mozart's. I enjoy most anything by him, but my favorite is the Magic Flute. Still, Cose, Figaro, Don Giovanni are of course incredible. But I have had good impressions of all of his operas that I have heard.

    Still don't care for Wagner, although I sometimes enjoy his Meistersinger.

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Default Its the Music

    This is a highly personal approach and probably does not work for everyone. For years, with a few exceptions like our friend Boris or the operas of Britten, I never really cared for opera. In trying to learn about opera, I concentrated on studying the libretto. Whenever I listened to opera, I always followed along by reading the libretto. It turns out the plots to many operas are quite silly. I used to think that the key was hearing the operas in English. That did not work either. I remember, and I mentioned this once in another post, how I played in the pit orchestra in college for a production of Verdi's La Traviata. In one scene Violetta was prancing around the stage singing, "O God why must I die so young." That ruined the opera and in general Verdi for me.

    I do not know exactly when, but I started to concentrate on the music. That changed everything for me. Now when I listen to an opera I rarely have any idea what is going on. This drives my wife crazy. We were at a recent MetHD performance Berlioz's Les Troyens. I drove my wife nuts telling her it was one my favorites and we had to see it. She kept asking me what is was about and all I could tell her was that it had something to do with Troy and Carthage. When we saw it I was much more familiar with the music than the plot. I am glad that I was enamored with the music because some of the libretto was rather silly.

    If you like a composers symphonies, like Dvorák or Tchaikovsky, then you will probably like his operas. For example listening Eugene Onegin is just like listening to Swan Lake except there is a lot of singing.

    Wish you luck.
    Last edited by arpeggio; Feb-05-2013 at 20:12.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    Senior Member Hesoos's Avatar
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    It's easy to try your style with youtube, just try some fragment from each composer for example


    Perhaps you like operas with symphonic orchestration.

    I thought a little about it...

    Fidelio by Beethoven
    Les troyens by Berlioz
    Anything by Mozart (The abduction of the Serail?)
    Anything by Wagner (Tristan, Der Ring, Lohengrin, Parsifal)
    Eugene Onegin and Dame Pique by Tchaikovsky
    Thais, Werther by Massenet


    (Italian opera must be tried Italian operas from the last Verdi and Verismo have a lot of symphonic orchestration:
    The last Verdi (Othello, Falstaff)
    Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni
    Pagliacci by Leoncavallo
    Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Fanciulla del west or Turandot by Puccini)
    1813 - 2013 Verdi and Wagner 200 years

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    Senior Member Cavaradossi's Avatar
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    Aside from not being Italian, I'm not seeing alot of commonalities in your list from which to extrapolate. So, ignoring the non-Italian aspect too, I'll make the following recommendations based on your individual likes:

    Boris Godunov: Verdi's Don Carlo. Both include public scenes of royal pomp and private scenes of confession and self-doubt. Both deal with similar themes (succession and intrigues around the throne, public vs private lives, church vs monarch, persecuted peoples and the whiff of revolution...). Heck, both even begin with a prologue featuring a troublesome coronation, and both operas exist in multiple versions, none of which is definitive.

    Tales of Hoffman: Puccini's Il Trittico also presents three separate stories with an undercurrent of lust, cruelty, greed, and malice with occasional comic relief.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrMike View Post
    The only operas I really enjoy are Mozart's. I enjoy most anything by him, but my favorite is the Magic Flute. Still, Cose, Figaro, Don Giovanni are of course incredible. But I have had good impressions of all of his operas that I have heard.

    Still don't care for Wagner, although I sometimes enjoy his Meistersinger.
    I am the greenest opera novice out there but I do like the idea of concentrating on the music as opposed to trying to understand the storyline of the opera. I know a lot of the classical music I do enjoy is taken from operas.

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    Senior Member neoshredder's Avatar
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    Monteverdi and Purcell ftw.

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    And don't forget the wonderful Czech operas of Janacek, Smetana and Dvorak .
    Smetana's Bartred Bride is great fun . Rusalka by Dvorak is a touching fairy tale about a watersprite who falls in love with a prince with tragic results and the music is indescribably gorgeous !
    Janacek's Jenufa is a grim tale of lust, pre-marital sex and infanticide in a small Czech village but which ends on a hopeful note , and the music is also gorgeous .
    His "The cunning little vixen" is a whimsical yet serious story about the animals of a Czech forest,including a vixen who is captured by a forester as a pet but who escapes to forge a life of her own . The music is strange but enchanting .
    "The devil and kate" by Dvorak nay be the funniest comic opera ever, with a rollicking score .
    The Supraphon DVD of the Bartred Bride is excellent, as well as the Rusalka DVD with renee Fleming and James Conlon conducting . Also try the DVD of Jenufa from the Glyndeourne festival of England conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and the DVD of the devil and Kate from the Wexford festival in Ireland (sung in English ).
    The others have English subtitles .
    Don't miss the classic Decca recordings of Janacek opera conducted by the late, great Sir Charles Mackerras, or any Czech opera recordings on the Czech republic's own Supraphon label, recorded at the source by native Czechs .

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    Senior Member Novelette's Avatar
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    Hmm, perhaps Beethoven's Fidelio? Not the most popular opera but it has that compelling Beethoven bombast that appeals to so many.

    I would say Berlioz' Les Troyens were it not such an extensive piece, opera haters would probably be confirmed in their distaste for opera simply by the sheer size of the work. Maybe the second and fourth acts only...

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    Senior Member Dongiovanni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benny View Post
    Mozart's Magic Fulte is also fun.
    Well that's a way to put it :-) Try more Mozart. Figaro or Don Giovanni to start with. Yes it's Italian.

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    Sorry, friends, most of you didn't catch my taste.
    Italian operas is not a matter of labguage - I love the Italian language - but of style. I hate all those screaming sopranos, the annoying recitatives, the imbecile plots, the overdramatizaion. Rule out all Verdis, Rossinis, Puccinis and the rest. Mozart is no better.
    Wagner is lengthy, noisy, overdramatizing. I like his overtures, the operas themselves are boring.

    My wife had a friend who hated fish. She said there is only one fish restaurant where she likes to eat fish, because there they know how to take the fish-taste out of the fish... The same is with me in operas. I like Mussorgsky's operas because they are not operatic, they are much more "serious": the music is thoughtful, almost religious, the plot is not banal (Pushkin!), etc.

    Indeed, Offenbach is the opposite, but I will relate to him later.

    I tried Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov and other Russians - they didn't do the job.

    I think I will try Berlioz and Massenet, following Hesoos's recommendation.

    Other tries?

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    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    Richard Strauss? Start with Salome or Elektra.
    I treat my music like I treat my pets. It’s something to own, care about and curate with attention to detail. From a blog by hjr.

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