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Thread: I've stopped going to the opera

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Default I've stopped going to the opera

    I was a big fan of Speight Jenkins, who was head of Seattle Opera for decades. He often discovered new singers who went on to become big, such as Jane Eaglen , Lawrence Brownlee and Stephanie Blythe. I just couldn't get excited by the singers our new director brought in. Also, the Wagner has dried up. Back 10 or 20 years ago I had more money and feel very satisfied with the live opera I have seen. I've just lost the desire. I must admit that having the price of parking go from $5 to $20 greatly offends me. For me opera is mostly an exercise in nostalgia these days.

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    Senior Member MAS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I was a big fan of Speight Jenkins, who was head of Seattle Opera for decades. He often discovered new singers who went on to become big, such as Jane Eaglen , Lawrence Brownlee and Stephanie Blythe. I just couldn't get excited by the singers our new director brought in. Also, the Wagner has dried up. Back 10 or 20 years ago I had more money and feel very satisfied with the live opera I have seen. I've just lost the desire. I must admit that having the price of parking go from $5 to $20 greatly offends me. For me opera is mostly an exercise in nostalgia these days.

    I hear you. I used to usher in the great days of the San Francisco Opera, under Kurt Herbert Adler, Terry McEwen, even Lotfi Mansouri. Those days we had ALL of the great singers of the day engaged to sing in San Francisco. I’m talking the likes of Aragall, Bergonzi, Domingo, Gedda, Kraus, Pavarotti, Villazon, Vargas, Vickers, etc., ladies like Battle, Blegen, Caballe, Dimitrova, Ricciarelli, Lorengar, Horne, Cossotto, Sutherland, Nilsson, Schroeder-Feinem, Te Kanawa, Sills, Baltsa, Leontyne Price, Margaret Price, Netrebko, Lucia Popp, Fleming, Freni, de los Angeles, Schwarzkopf, Hesse, Benachkova, to name just the high registers.
    Then came Pamela Rosenberg who wanted to “Animate Opera” with more modern operas, Eurotrash productions, lousy brochures, dramaturgs. We deserted the SFOpera in droves. With David Gockley we came to our senses again, with better production values (if not all “traditional”), better singers, up and coming singers, etc.
    But having seen all the greats, I grew jaded and tired of the productions that weren’t successful, and stopped ushering or even attending all of the operas presented, then one or two of the best. Next year, I look forward to Jakub Josef Orlinsky’s debut in Paternope, but that’s it...
    Sad, no?

    Addition: I forgot, I also cherry-pick the MET in HD presentations.
    Last edited by MAS; Dec-28-2019 at 03:09. Reason: Addition

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    I'm sorry to hear that, John. Opera is such a big part of your life. I'm shocked at the increased parking rate. Is that at Seattle Center? I presume ballet and concert patrons are being asked to pay that too. I'm thinking back to the early '90s, when I'd park a few blocks away and pay nothing for parking. Seattle has certainly changed from the overgrown small town it was when I moved there in 1982. Back then, Pacific Northwest Ballet, my employer, was headquartered in an old Catholic school building in Wallingford. After it moved to a cavernous concrete structure at Seattle Center it completely lost its warm, family atmosphere, and I no longer felt as much attachment to the city. Progress! I haven't been back to Seattle in years, but I have a feeling I wouldn't feel much nostalgia if I did, except perhaps for the mountain and water views (on days when they aren't hidden by clouds). I was lucky enough to be given tickets to two Ring cycles in those years, but danged if I can remember who sang in them. They were generally pretty good though, and the production was the original traditional one that never had you thinking "What the hell is that?" I remember one of Seattle's rare thunderstorms the night of Siegfried. Very Wagnerian!

    I assume you'll continue your opera talks, and I hope you have friends you can share recordings and conversation with. And of course there's always the motley crew here on TC. Speaking personally, I'm glad you're around.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MAS View Post
    I hear you. I used to usher in the great days of the San Francisco Opera, under Kurt Herbert Adler, Terry McEwen, even Lotfi Mansouri. Those days we had ALL of the great singers of the day engaged to sing in San Francisco. I’m talking the likes of Aragall, Bergonzi, Domingo, Gedda, Kraus, Pavarotti, Villazon, Vargas, Vickers, etc., ladies like Battle, Blegen, Caballe, Dimitrova, Ricciarelli, Lorengar, Horne, Cossotto, Sutherland, Nilsson, Schroeder-Feinem, Te Kanawa, Sills, Baltsa, Leontyne Price, Margaret Price, Netrebko, Lucia Popp, Fleming, Freni, de los Angeles, Schwarzkopf, Hesse, Benachkova, to name just the high registers.
    Then came Pamela Rosenberg who wanted to “Animate Opera” with more modern operas, Eurotrash productions, lousy brochures, dramaturgs. We deserted the SFOpera in droves. With David Gockley we came to our senses again, with better production values (if not all “traditional”), better singers, up and coming singers, etc.
    But having seen all the greats, I grew jaded and tired of the productions that weren’t successful, and stopped ushering or even attending all of the operas presented, then one or two of the best. Next year, I look forward to Jakub Josef Orlinsky’s debut in Paternope, but that’s it...
    Sad, no?

    Addition: I forgot, I also cherry-pick the MET in HD presentations.
    I am sooooo jealous for you.. but happy for you as well. Such stars!!!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I'm sorry to hear that, John. Opera is such a big part of your life. I'm shocked at the increased parking rate. Is that at Seattle Center? I presume ballet and concert patrons are being asked to pay that too. I'm thinking back to the early '90s, when I'd park a few blocks away and pay nothing for parking. Seattle has certainly changed from the overgrown small town it was when I moved there in 1982. Back then, Pacific Northwest Ballet, my employer, was headquartered in an old Catholic school building in Wallingford. After it moved to a cavernous concrete structure at Seattle Center it completely lost its warm, family atmosphere, and I no longer felt as much attachment to the city. Progress! I haven't been back to Seattle in years, but I have a feeling I wouldn't feel much nostalgia if I did, except perhaps for the mountain and water views (on days when they aren't hidden by clouds). I was lucky enough to be given tickets to two Ring cycles in those years, but danged if I can remember who sang in them. They were generally pretty good though, and the production was the original traditional one that never had you thinking "What the hell is that?" I remember one of Seattle's rare thunderstorms the night of Siegfried. Very Wagnerian!

    I assume you'll continue your opera talks, and I hope you have friends you can share recordings and conversation with. And of course there's always the motley crew here on TC. Speaking personally, I'm glad you're around.
    Aren't you an angel! I do give my opera talks several times a year. My best friend loves opera and we dine out every week. I have become very close to a lesbian couple in my retirement building who never used to listen to opera, but they ride with me and we have so much fun listening to all sorts of music. I've introduced them to opera and they LOVE it. My favorite thing is to listen to music in the car and they get very excited about what I play them. They ride with me for a few hours on my courier job every week. I am completely surrounded by friends now in the wonderful retirement home I live in now. I am very very blessed! I feel like I am back in the friendly South, without the prejudice.
    The parking is at the Seattle Center and all surrounding parking venues. They used to raise it for special events but now it is always at least $20.
    Seattle is unrecognizable from 10 years ago. Did you know Hugh Bigney at PNB? He was one of the principal dancers. We were a hot item for a summer around 1990. He used to practice at the Wallingford Center. He was one of the very few gay principals.
    Last edited by Seattleoperafan; Dec-28-2019 at 17:09.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    I go to the opera but it's usually the cinema broadcasts fro the Met or the ROH Covent Garden. The price of tickets for the theatre is exorbitant and one of likely to see a cranky production like the recent Glyndebourne Magic Flute which simply left me annoyed rather than entertained. At least the cinema is relatively cheap, you do not have to pay to get to London or pay the price of a hotel and if you don't like it you haven't wasted a fortune!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I go to the opera but it's usually the cinema broadcasts fro the Met or the ROH Covent Garden. The price of tickets for the theatre is exorbitant and one of likely to see a cranky production like the recent Glyndebourne Magic Flute which simply left me annoyed rather than entertained. At least the cinema is relatively cheap, you do not have to pay to get to London or pay the price of a hotel and if you don't like it you haven't wasted a fortune!
    I can only imagine the incredible singers from past decades that you heard in their prime!!!!!! Covent Garden back when!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    Aren't you an angel! I do give my opera talks several times a year. My best friend loves opera and we dine out every week. I have become very close to a lesbian couple in my retirement building who never used to listen to opera, but they ride with me and we have so much fun listening to all sorts of music. I've introduced them to opera and they LOVE it. My favorite thing is to listen to music in the car and they get very excited about what I play them. They ride with me for a few hours on my courier job every week. I am completely surrounded by friends now in the wonderful retirement home I live in now. I am very very blest! I feel like I am back in the friendly South, without the prejudice.
    The parking is at the Seattle Center and all surrounding parking venues. They used to raise it for special events but now it is always at least $20.
    Seattle is unrecognizable from 10 years ago. Did you know Hugh Bigney at PNB? He was one of the principal dancers. We were a hot item for a summer around 1990. He used to practice at the Wallingford Center. He was one of the very few gay principals.
    Glad to know you're enjoying life even without live opera. I remember Hugh Bigney by name only. We class accompanists generally didn't mingle with the company, although we weren't prevented from doing so. One dancer tried to pick me up at a local food market, but the attraction wasn't mutual!

    Retirement facilities can be great if you're lucky. I live in a senior apartment complex in Ashland, Oregon, and have nice neighbors, but none of them know anything about music, so I'm forced to come here, try to talk about Wagner, and watch the threads get shut down because some people would rather talk about Hitler.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I can only imagine the incredible singers from past decades that you heard in their prime!!!!!! Covent Garden back when!!!!!
    My sister was married to a Londoner in the 1980s and used to attend the ROH and ENO. You could sit in "the gods" for cheap. Among other splendid adventures, she managed to get herself kissed by Pavarotti.

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    As the HD's ushered into our world, my traveling days to the Big Apple at least 10 times a season dwindled down to maybe 2 or 3.
    Now I readily admit that it is the voice that is #1 for me, and if there is no scheduled HD with a singer that atttracts me, I will then travel to NY to see a production that DOES have the singers I cannot afford to miss.
    Expensive as it is, there is nothing like the excitement of seeing a Met performance live, sans mikes, and an ability to view the entire stage instead of so many close-ups of tonsils!
    Watching the sputnik chandeliers glide up to the top of the stratosphere gives me goosebumps.
    Walking up the steps to my "home away from home" instills gratitude that I am alive and still able to appreciate my magnificent obsession.
    But I am also grateful for the HD's in my waning years, which has made it so much easier for me to see all my favorites 7 minutes away from my home (and with a box of popcorn if I wish as well).
    I also enjoy the interviews with the singers and the way they strike the sets backstage for the next act. Very exciting.
    Long may it continue...
    Last edited by nina foresti; Dec-28-2019 at 18:13.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nina foresti View Post
    As the HD's ushered into our world, my traveling days to the Big Apple at least 10 times a season dwindled down to maybe 2 or 3.
    Now I readily admit that it is the voice that is #1 for me, and if there is no scheduled HD with a singer that atttracts me, I will then travel to NY to see a production that DOES have the singers I cannot afford to miss.
    Expensive as it is, there is nothing like the excitement of seeing a Met performance live, sans mikes, and an ability to view the entire stage instead of so many close-ups of tonsils!
    Watching the sputnik chandeliers glide up to the top of the stratosphere gives me goosebumps.
    Walking up the steps to my "home away from home" instills gratitude that I am alive and still able to appreciate my magnificent obsession.
    But I am also grateful for the HD's in my waning years, which has made it so much easier for me to see all my favorites 7 minutes away from my home (and with a box of popcorn if I wish as well).
    I also enjoy the interviews with the singers and the way they strike the sets backstage for the next act. Very exciting.
    Long may it continue...
    The HD are wonderful in many ways, but you can't compete with the sound of voices un-miked in the house!!!! I watch a lot of Sutherland on Youtube. There is so much available on Youtube for opera lovers now.

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    It's so sad that the Seattle Ring cycles are no more. I went three times, each better than the previous. Many great memories. If I'm going to the expense and trouble of travelling for opera, it had better be pretty special - and let's face it, the fare most companies produce nowadays is the same old stuff they've been doing for decades - centuries! I still occasionally go to Santa Fe when they do something out of the ordinary. LA Opera is within driving range, but their repertoire is dull compared to 20-30 years ago. The MET is just too expensive now. New York isn't cheap for anything anymore. Opera is just an insanely complex and expensive thing to do. Modern operas are generally uninteresting and dull. Some people are bored with the same old reruns. I would be more interested if companies would put on Berg, Korngold, Goldmark, Rimsky-Korsakov and other rarities in productions that are not Euro-trash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    My sister was married to a Londoner in the 1980s and used to attend the ROH and ENO. You could sit in "the gods" for cheap. Among other splendid adventures, she managed to get herself kissed by Pavarotti.
    I might have sat next to her back in the day! Now sadly and despite living in the UK it's actually cheaper for me to go to Munich opera than the ROH. (I live 300 miles north of London.) I'll be flying over to Munich in February for the "Tosca" and my ticket plus air fare is approximately what the ticket alone would cost at Covent Garden.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Annied View Post
    I might have sat next to her back in the day! Now sadly and despite living in the UK it's actually cheaper for me to go to Munich opera than the ROH. (I live 300 miles north of London.) I'll be flying over to Munich in February for the "Tosca" and my ticket plus air fare is approximately what the ticket alone would cost at Covent Garden.
    That's amazing and sad. On this side of the pond, I'm glad I got to the Met for a few Wagner performances in the '70s, including two with Birgit Nilsson. I have no idea what it would cost now, but out here in the sticks of Oregon I don't have to worry about it; I'm unlikely to attend any more live opera unless I move to California. There's no Nilsson around to sing Isolde anyway, so I'm content with my memories.

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    I think the less you go and see, the more carefully you pick what to see and you avoid a lot of disappointment that way. I tend to enjoy opera abroad where I only see things that are worth traveling for.

    On the other hand there are a number of operas I have never seen and I like to tick them off the list. I'm also partial to Ring Cycles (although, obviously that's the most expensive thing to see!)

    N.

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