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Thread: What is your Modus Operandi for Approaching an Opera?

  1. #16
    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sloe View Post
    If I like the opera or at least find something likeable with the opera then I listen to it several times othervise not. Yes several listenings pay both to hear something I like several times and in some cases the appreciation of the opera becomes larger.
    The first forum meet up I went to was for Les Troyens at ROH. It wasn't an opera I knew and after the first listen I didn't like it at all and said to the others that I'd meet up with them but I couldn't possibly sit through 4½ hours of that! But I decided to persevere and forced myself to listen over and over again and I fell in love with it. I did see it at ROH and we had a superb time.

    It has subsequently become one of my favourite operas.
    Ann

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    I find this quite sad, whilst some music is so intellectual it can only be understood after a few listenings, much music works on a number of levels and I think a lot of opera is incredibly tuneful. Verdi held back the music for 'La donna e' mobile' until the last moment as he wanted it to be a surprise for his audience. He knew that the gondoliers would all be singing his 'hit' tune and everybody would know the tune before the premiere of the opera. At that point in his career Verdi believed that if the simple shoe shine boys couldn't whistle his melodies after one hearing, then he had failed.

    Perhaps opera in Italy was the 'musical' of the 19th century!

    N.
    Interesting that you mention Rigoletto. A colleague of mine, an opera virgin, asked to go with me to an opera and as she'd heard of Rigoletto she thought it was a good one to start with.

    I loaned her this



    and suggested she listen in her car and just become familiar with it before we went. She did and also read the synopsis.

    She loved it and loved the fact that the music was familiar.
    Ann

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    Music is for me too is unquestionably the most important element of an opera.

    As a songwriter though, it is very interesting for me to listen to how a given composer has musically interpreted different dramatic aspects, moods, shades of meaning in the libretto. E.g. Handel's/Mozart's et al. word painting in the form of descending chromatic scales as characters make their descent into Hades, etc. Though this may come across as a little cheesy at times, it nontheless adds an extra dimension to it all.

    In terms of allocating importance for the over all appreciation of an opera, the visual aspect for me is generally the least important. The power of one's own imagination seems far greater than the ability of a given director or actors on the stage to interpret it in any one particular way. In a way this is not dissimilar to the experience one encounters upon seeing the film version of a novel one has especially enjoyed only to feel let down in the cinema. Of course, there are exceptions to this as well where the reverse is true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Fatale View Post
    Sadly Conte, I fear you've chosen the exception to the rule as your example.

    If we didn't enjoy an opera more through subsequent listens, then we'd probably not be fans of opera. Do you really not think it repays repeat listens, or have I missed your point?
    You've missed my point. Although I like to go to see operas 'blind', if I like an opera, then I will certainly want to hear the music again. I have been listening to opera for 25 years and I now know the most commonly performed works as well as quite a few rarities (especially by composers I like). I now find I can go to even the most complex and puzzling music and know first time round whether it's something that I will enjoy after repeated listening.

    I don't think Verdi is the only opera composer who wrote 'easy on the ear' tunes. Carmen, Magic Flute and the operas of Rossini and Donizetti all contain music that an opera beginner shouldn't find problematic.

    N.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    Interesting that you mention Rigoletto. A colleague of mine, an opera virgin, asked to go with me to an opera and as she'd heard of Rigoletto she thought it was a good one to start with.

    I loaned her this



    and suggested she listen in her car and just become familiar with it before we went. She did and also read the synopsis.

    She loved it and loved the fact that the music was familiar.
    Different strokes... On this forum somebody has posted about their first opera experience seeing Madama Butterfly and how powerful it was as they didn't know the ending. I'm a big fan of narrative both direct and abstract and so I like to avoid 'spoilers'. There are some operas/composers where I might listen to the music (but not the libretto) before seeing them (Berlioz amongst them).

    N.

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  8. #21
    Senior Member Sloe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    The first forum meet up I went to was for Les Troyens at ROH. It wasn't an opera I knew and after the first listen I didn't like it at all and said to the others that I'd meet up with them but I couldn't possibly sit through 4½ hours of that! But I decided to persevere and forced myself to listen over and over again and I fell in love with it. I did see it at ROH and we had a superb time.

    It has subsequently become one of my favourite operas.
    That is you.
    Remember how an other user in another thread said he had listened through Tristan und Isolde six times and still did not like it except for some parts. I thought stop torturing yourself and listen to something you like instead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sloe View Post
    That is you.
    Remember how an other user in another thread said he had listened through Tristan und Isolde six times and still did not like it except for some parts. I thought stop torturing yourself and listen to something you like instead.
    Yes, but at least he gave it a thorough chance. He can now say with confidence that it isn't his cup of tea. I did the same with Ariadne auf Naxos (which is possibly my least favourite opera) I listened to it through (on a number of different recordings) and I've seen it twice, I like the prologue, but the very long second half bores me rotten.

    Dialogues of the Carmelites was one that I had to listen to a few times before I liked it (and now I love it). Therefore it is definitely worth giving a work a chance.

    N.

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    Senior Member Dongiovanni's Avatar
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    I always start listening until I get acquinted with the music, and this takes most of the 'studying' time. Only later I dive into the action and libretto and finally I try to watch a DVD from start to finish, but sadly I don't have much time to do this, listening is just more convenient. In opera music is the most important to me.

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    Senior Member Cavaradossi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KRoad View Post
    No libretto = none satisfying/fulfilling/complete operatic experience.
    I'm my earlier days, I was a "the music ought to communicate the story regardless of the language" kind of opera-goer, but now I'm a full-fledged libretto reader. My routine:

    1.) Scan the horizon to see what local or destination operas are likely candidates for the coming months.

    2.) Scan the semi-organized shelves of my significant other's semi-inherited CD collection for the desired title. (~80% probability at least one version will be there.) Snatch the libretto.

    3.) Read the background and historical notes in the CD libretto.

    4.) Read Act I in the original language column of the libretto (Italian/French/German titles only) leaning heavily on the translation as needed. For Russian, Czech, Farsi, and others: it's not gonna happen, skip to step 10.

    5.) Find the most interesting version of the full opera on youtube. Follow along closely with the libretto.

    6.) Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the remaining acts.

    7.) Listen to the audio CD during daily commute and become disheartened at how amazingly little of the libretto vocabulary from the previous night actually stuck.

    8.) If times allows, repeat steps 5 and 6, maybe with a different video version for variety.

    9.) Head to the opera house, doing last minute cramming on my favorite arias and scenes.

    10.) Curtain up! Relax, focus, and enjoy. Revel in the music and the emotion and become encouraged and grateful at how much of the libretto vocabulary actually stuck.
    Last edited by Cavaradossi; Aug-24-2015 at 18:09.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavaradossi View Post
    I'm my earlier days, I was a "the music ought to communicate the story regardless of the language" kind of opera-goer, but now I'm a full-fledged libretto reader. My routine:

    1.) Scan the horizon to see what local or destination operas are likely candidates for the coming months.

    2.) Scan the semi-organized shelves of my significant other's semi-inherited CD collection for the desired title. (~80% probability at least one version will be there.) Snatch the libretto.

    3.) Read the background and historical notes in the CD libretto.

    4.) Read Act I in the original language column of the libretto (Italian/French/German titles only) leaning heavily on the translation as needed. For Russian, Czech, Farsi, and others: it's not gonna happen, skip to step 10.

    5.) Find the most interesting version of the full opera on youtube. Follow along closely with the libretto.

    6.) Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the remaining acts.

    7.) Listen to the audio CD during daily commute and become disheartened at how amazingly little of the libretto vocabulary from the previous night actually stuck.

    8.) If times allows, repeat steps 5 and 6, maybe with a different video version for variety.

    9.) Head to the opera house, doing last minute cramming on my favorite arias and scenes.

    10.) Curtain up! Relax, focus, and enjoy. Revel in the music and the emotion and become encouraged and grateful at how much of the libretto vocabulary actually stuck.


    Brilliant!!

    I love (7)!! I think I might try your method of trying to learn an Act at a time rather than the whole thing at one go.
    Ann

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