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Thread: My first (live) opera experience

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    Default My first (live) opera experience

    I thought I'd share this. Maybe folk would like to share their own.

    My dad is a big classical music fan. We grew up listening to arias, overtures and orchestral music in the 70's. His favourites were Kleiber's Beethoven 5&7 & a compilation of Wagner's greatest hits, and a colection of Verdi's arias and overtures. He'd put it on as long, and as loud as possible until mum told him to switch that racket off.

    Anyway - in the late 90's the English Touring Opera brought a production of Rigaletto to the local leisure centre. The gym floor that was normally used for badminton and martial arts was transformed into a space for opera. I can't remember if there was much of an orchestra - certainly it wouldn't fit into the space in front of the audience - so it was either at the back, or they were working off of backing tapes.

    Anyway, the production as it was was very good - so we caught a couple more of their productions Marriage of Figaro. I was working at the Prudential and at some point they were sponsoring the ENO, and there were some free passes going around. If the seats weren't being used - then any member of staff got them - so we took ourselves to see Der Rosenkavalier, which was good & Salome which pu me off a bit.

    Being asked to believe that Salome was Herodes daughter, when she looked much older than him was asking us to suspend disbelief too far.

    So we had a hiatus, until we took a trip to Munich and had a wander around Neuschwanstein - after that, we had to take in a ring cycle and a few more Wagners. However, now we find ourselves far more likely to catch opera broadcast from the cinema than going to the opera house.

    The cost and hassle of getting into London to squeeze into the cheap seats, with the risk of not actually enjoying the performance got to be too much. We're far more likely to experiment with cheaper opera at the cinema - and as a result we've seen far more productions in the last five years than in the previous ten.

    Brecht's The Rise and Fall of Mahagonny was a revelation, Berg's LuLu was painful and Tales of Hoffman, and many more have been a joy - and I've seen more production of La Traviata than I care to count - which I wouldn't do if I shad to schlep into London every time. (The cost of the train fare to London is about the same as the cost of the cinema ticket).

    I'm currently listening to a sonorous Don Giovanni (Renee Jacobs) and ignoring the housework to write this.

    So, my journey into opera started in a leisure centre. Where did yours?

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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    My very first one was ( many, many years ago in Belgium ( Antwerp) Lucia di Lammermoor, in Dutch / Flemish, it was atrocious, , a mate of my whispering, we are on the first row, "classy" the man sitting behind us whispers: nothing "classy" this are seat for the poor.
    Not really worth remembering.
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    However is a concert counts: Joan Sutherland Concert in Amsterdam (Feb. 1962)

    he story behind this concert:
    "During a charity concert in Antwerp (Feb. 23) Joan slipped on the polish floor and save from falling, but in doing so badly jarred her back. She had an agonizing train journey to Amsterdam and a sleepless night. A doctor was called and gave her injections. But it afforded only passing relief and during rehearsal, taking a deep breath to reach a high note, the pain caused was so severe that Sutherland collapsed and was led away in tears. A doctor laced her into a maternity binder and she adjusted her breathing and took only little breaths. When the concert was over she received a tremendous ovation". "The press later launched the news after a tour cancellation 'Sutherland crippled' ".

    00:00 - Alcina: Ah! Ruggiero crudel... Ombre pallide, lo so, mi udite;
    06:53 - Lucia di Lammermoor: Il dolce suono... Ardon gli incensi;
    17:28 - Lucia di Lammermoor: Spargi d'amaro pianto;
    20:57 - Lucia di Lammermoor: Spargi d'amaro pianto (Encore);
    24:19 - I Puritani: Son vergin vezzosa;
    27:24 - La Traviata: È strano!... Ah, fors'è lui... Sempre libera;
    *Ettore Babini, tenor

    Omroep Orchestra and Omroep Chorus
    Conductor, Alberto Erede
    Amsterdam, February 25, 1962
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    She was a regular guest in Amsterdam, From Roldelinda toward Lucia's / Norma/ Maria Stuarda unforgettable , the public brought the house down .
    Last edited by Rogerx; Mar-24-2020 at 07:14.
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    I Capuleti e i Montecchi / Margherita Rinaldi, Giacomo Aragall, Luciano Pavarotti, Nicola Zaccarie, Walter Monachesi. Abbado [Amsterdam, live 1966]


    This one was also unforgettable not at least a male singing Romeo.
    Years later I recall 1994 I visited New York, seeing Luciano again as Mario Cavaradossi at the Met. The voice was there but he could hardly walk, when he had to go from the dungeon to the execution place
    they build a small lift so he wouldn't have to walk the stairs.
    Last edited by Rogerx; Mar-24-2020 at 13:18.
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

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    I was 16 when a small group of classical music lovers from high school decided to see "The Consul" with Patricia Neway, Cornel MacNeil and Marie Powers. It was a tour de force. It opened up my great passion for opera.
    Strange that for a long time it was considered passe. Today it has become pertinent once again and very much a topic of our world.

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