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Thread: What Verdi operas to listen to next...

  1. #31
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    It depends how many times I listen to an opera how long it takes to get to know it and how well you mean.

    I would say ten times to recognise the melodies and know where they come in the piece.

    N.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spearmint View Post

    How long does it take everyone else to get to know an opera?

    .
    That's an interesting Question and worth its own thread.

    It all depends.....
    Last edited by Belowpar; Sep-24-2018 at 06:50.

  3. #33
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spearmint View Post
    Except Wagner. It's highlights for him.

    How long does it take everyone else to get to know an opera?
    Wagner's Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer) is easy to take in in its entirety. Its just a little over 2 hours long. (My DVD recommendation)

    In any case, the best way I have found to really get to know an opera is to watch a good DVD or several DVDs of it with the subtitles turned on. Then you would want to read an entire libretto, which comes with some CD releases or can be bought separately, or often can be found online for free.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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  5. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    Wagner's Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer) is easy to take in in its entirety. Its just a little over 2 hours long. (My DVD recommendation)

    In any case, the best way I have found to really get to know an opera is to watch a good DVD or several DVDs of it with the subtitles turned on. Then you would want to read an entire libretto, which comes with some CD releases or can be bought separately, or often can be found online for free.
    That's very good advice - I remember watching and re-watching a version of La Boheme on Sky Arts (also on DVD) sung in English - I believe Alfie Boe and Melody Moore were in the cast and it was directed by Jonathan Miller. The combination of it being in the vernacular and having subtitles really helped deepen my understanding of that opera and what precisely was going on (I'm not an Italian speaker). It also meant that I could dip in and out while doing other things, enjoying the music in the background and quickly catch up when I heard a favourite segment or a particular melody caught my attention.

    I'm not sure if Chandos' Opera in English series of Verdi recordings might be a good way for the original poster to learn the operas? Having said that, artists singing in English is not always a guarantee that you can make out the words and meaning: an occluded English accent can mean that you could still rely on a libretto to plot your course...in which case the original Italian or French would be preferable.
    Last edited by davidglasgow; Sep-24-2018 at 20:22.

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  7. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidglasgow View Post
    That's very good advice - I remember watching and re-watching a version of La Boheme on Sky Arts (also on DVD) sung in English - I believe Alfie Boe and Melody Moore were in the cast and it was directed by Jonathan Miller. The combination of it being in the vernacular and having subtitles really helped deepen my understanding of that opera and what precisely was going on (I'm not an Italian speaker). It also meant that I could dip in and out while doing other things, enjoying the music in the background and quickly catch up when I heard a favourite segment or a particular melody caught my attention.

    I'm not sure if Chandos' Opera in English series of Verdi recordings might be a good way for the original poster to learn the operas? Having said that, artists singing in English is not always a guarantee that you can make out the words and meaning: an occluded English accent can mean that you could still rely on a libretto to plot your course...in which case the original Italian or French would be preferable.
    I'd approach that way with caution; changing the language can change the whole experience for some of us. I speak as a lady who only recently and after many years, has realised that "O Divine Redeemer" and "Repentir" are one and the same. (The former I can take or leave, the latter has always been a favourite.) While it may not be true for everyone, because we all hear things differently, how the actual sound of the words fits with the music can be all important.

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  9. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spearmint View Post
    Opera is an acquired taste for me. I usually don't enjoy an opera on first listening. (I hate gypsies in any storyline, for instance.) Then find a few tracks I latch onto. Then I gradually begin to love the whole thing. It's a process of many weeks for me.

    [...]

    Operas that I will be purchasing: Otello, another Verdi I will choose after carefully analyzing your suggestions, Carmen and Lucia di Lammermoor.
    I would like to point out, though it may already be entirely clear, that Carmen from Carmen is a gypsy. She is a well-drawn character, but, yeah.



    Quote Originally Posted by Spearmint View Post
    How long does it take everyone else to get to know an opera?
    I typically don't focus on a single opera at a time. I approach an opera from several different ways, over time, alongside several other operas. When I am trying to become acquainted with an opera (such as for an upcoming performance) I tend to listen to famous arias, overtures, suites, and other excerpts from the opera to get an idea of the music. Especially if something there catches my ear, I will jump to listening to a full recording and/or watching a video of the opera. Somewhere in there I will likely read a synopsis, and maybe the libretto, or even peek at the score.

    One thing that I often find helpful is the Opera Explained series on Naxos. Over one CD (70-80 minutes) the opera and how it works is discussed, with regular illustrative musical examples. The discs often start with background on the composer and their other works, the era and other related composers, and so on, but the bulk of the time is spent on narrating the plot with musical highlights. I don't think the discussions are overly technical, musically. And while I occasionally quibble with the interpretations or other stances taken they do tend towards the neutral/traditional.

    This is the one for Rigoletto.

    There are maybe 30 of these, so a good number of the most popular operas are covered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mountmccabe View Post
    I would like to point out, though it may already be entirely clear, that Carmen from Carmen is a gypsy. She is a well-drawn character, but, yeah.
    ...

    One thing that I often find helpful is the Opera Explained series on Naxos. Over one CD (70-80 minutes) the opera and how it works is discussed, with regular illustrative musical examples. The discs often start with background on the composer and their other works, the era and other related composers, and so on, but the bulk of the time is spent on narrating the plot with musical highlights. I don't think the discussions are overly technical, musically. And while I occasionally quibble with the interpretations or other stances taken they do tend towards the neutral/traditional.

    This is the one for Rigoletto.

    There are maybe 30 of these, so a good number of the most popular operas are covered.
    There seems to have been an obsession with the exoticism of gypsies in the 1700-1800s. Oddly, I worked with settled gypsies in the US many years ago, which I doubt most people have. They were a traditional community, suspicious of the vices of mainstream America. Girls were raised to do housework and marry early within the group. Boys were being allowed some schooling because they needed to read in order to work as mechanics, which was a main occupation. It was all very controlling for those involved. The whole experience disabused me of any notions of the freewheeling, free-spirited gypsy.

    Nevertheless, I love Trovatore for all the wrong reasons. I could never get up any sympathy for baby-killer Azucena or Manrico, who seems a little dim at times. Instead, I adore Count di Luna and consider him one of the most emotionally appealing characters in the whole opera. Plus, there is a Trovatore movie from the 1970s on Youtube with a fabulous di Luna. I love that guy. The music of the whole thing is beautiful and exciting, although it took me the usual eight weeks to figure that out.

    Carmen pretty much seems to be required listening. It's number one on all the lists. Someone should recommend a good version. Only not with Maria Callas. Don't ask.

    My public library has some of the Naxos lectures, so I sometimes download them to my tablet. I have listened to Cosi fan tutte, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Magic Flute and maybe one other. You're right, they are very interesting.

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  12. #38
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    Rigoletto is one I'd recommend you spend some time with. It has some great tunes.


    Rather than go for a whole Wagner opera, why not go for a highlights CD? Panorama/DG produced two double CD sets. One was highlights from (Karajan's) the Ring, but the other was highlights from 6 other Wagner operas. If you must have one opera, then Th eFlying Dutchman works well on its own.


    The panorama sets can be found 2nd hand for not much money.
    Last edited by AlexD; Oct-08-2018 at 00:49.

  13. #39
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    I'll suggest La Forza del Destino and Don Carlo(s). Both are emotionally appealing, with a feeling of "dark fate" throughout that Verdi actually loves a lot.

    The plot of Forza doesn't make lots of sense but it contains some of Verdi's greatest arias and duets.

    As for Don Carlo, so much could be talked about from both a psychological and political standpoint. It's my favorite Verdi and I've been exploring this work for years. People talk about versions above, and I think 4-act Italian has the best structure, 5-act Italian includes the Fontainebleau scene which I like a lot, and the original French has a clearer plot with extra brilliant music.

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