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Thread: Quirky Operatic Favorites

  1. #16
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nina foresti View Post
    The $14.00 one is still there. However, I don't know if it becomes $65 in UK.
    I only found one at around £23 + £37 or even £50 postage. Much too expensive.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member vivalagentenuova's Avatar
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    I love Rimsky-Korsakov's May Night.

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    1. Cimarosa: Il matrimonio segreto. I find the music quite pleasing and entertaining. Sadly, it is overshadowed by the masterpieces of Mozart.
    2. Pergolesi: La serva padrona. A very brief piece which sounds OK to my ears. However, it marks the begining of a new era and it worth to be mentioned here.
    3. Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice, what I consider a unique masterpiece that needs more attention (it is quite well-known compared with others on the list).
    4. Weber: Oberon. Despite the purplexing plot, it contains a lot of beautiful music.
    5. Marschner: Der Vampyr. A rarely performed good work, bridging masterpieces of Weber and Wagner.
    Last edited by Bruckner Anton; Sep-17-2021 at 10:30.

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  6. #19
    Senior Member Azol's Avatar
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    1) Puccini - La Fanciulla del West.
    Probably my all-time Puccini favorite. A strange choice? Not for me. Love every minute of it.

    2) Mercadante - Orazi e Curiazi.
    I believe this opera has lots of show-stopping music and high drama. Exciting listening experience!

    3) Balfe - Falstaff.
    Quirky, fun, light-hearted, it deserves being performed.

    4) Massenet - Le Roi de Lahore.
    Probably overshadowed by much more popular Massenet works but still a very tuneful exciting score.

    5) Rimsky-Korsakov. Sadko.
    Unique style, reflecting its origins in the old (ancient even) tales.

    6) Melartin - Aino.
    A hidden gem, well worth researching. Finnish opera, Kalevala-based, Wagner-influenced but still deeply rooted in traditional music.

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    Azol:
    Not at all a strange choice. A very perceptive one. In fact, I would venture to say that it may have well been his best composing of all his operas, even if I happen to have put 3 before it. Just listen to the music alone without any singing in the Poker Scene. It was absolutely riveting.

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  10. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by nina foresti View Post
    Azol:
    Not at all a strange choice. A very perceptive one. In fact, I would venture to say that it may have well been his best composing of all his operas, even if I happen to have put 3 before it. Just listen to the music alone without any singing in the Poker Scene. It was absolutely riveting.
    I agree completely. I love that opera and the poker scene, while being just slightly campy, is beautifully written with minimal music that still says everything it needs to.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    I agree with all people are saying about La Fanciulla del West. I'm just not sure I'd label a liking for it as quirky. The opera is now quite regularly performed and I think most people would count it one of Puccini's greatest works.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-17-2021 at 15:21.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  14. #23
    Senior Member vivalagentenuova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    I agree with all people are saying about La Fanciulla del West. I'm just not sure I'd label a liking for it as quirky. The opera is now quite regularly performed and I think most people would count it one of Puccini's greatest works.
    Agreed. It would probably make one quirky 30 years ago. But interestingly (and I think tellingly) Puccini's later works are becoming more and more popular over time. Turandot only became really popular after the mid century, and now [I]Il trittico[I] and La fanciulla del west are becoming ever more popular. Even Rondine gets more love than it used to. Fanciulla is my favorite as well, and Puccini's late works generally speaking are all high on my list. I think it speaks to Puccini's greatness that his late works seem more relevant now than they did when they were written. I don't know of any minor artists (as many critics regard Puccini though again, happily and tellingly, fewer and fewer) of whom one can say that.
    Last edited by vivalagentenuova; Sep-17-2021 at 15:45.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vivalagentenuova View Post
    Agreed. It would probably make one quirky 30 years ago. But interestingly (and I think tellingly) Puccini's later works are becoming more and more popular over time. Turandot only became really popular after the mid century, and now [I]Il trittico[I] and La fanciulla del west are becoming ever more popular. Even Rondine gets more love than it used to. Fanciulla is my favorite as well, and Puccini's late works generally speaking are all high on my list. I think it speaks to Puccini's greatness that his late works seem more relevant now than they did when they were written. I don't know of any minor artists (as many critics regard Puccini though again, happily and tellingly, fewer and fewer) of whom one can say that.
    My respect for Puccini and my liking for his operas continues to grow. I still prefer Verdi in general (and specifically almost all his operas from Rigoletto onwards), but I rank Puccini far higher than any of his contemporaries. In fact I'm not a big lover of verismo in general, but I always place Puccini to one side, as it were. His operas are musically much finer.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-17-2021 at 17:52.
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    Senior Member Azol's Avatar
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    Well, since we're talking "quirky" here, I can probable amend my list by replacing Fanciulla with La Rondine. Count me as a fan, I think I have at least 4 different versions in my collection and I'm open for more. This waltzing little gem of an oper(a/etta) never fails to put me in a cheerful mood, especially Act 2!

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vivalagentenuova View Post
    Agreed. It would probably make one quirky 30 years ago. But interestingly (and I think tellingly) Puccini's later works are becoming more and more popular over time. Turandot only became really popular after the mid century, and now [I]Il trittico[I] and La fanciulla del west are becoming ever more popular. Even Rondine gets more love than it used to. Fanciulla is my favorite as well, and Puccini's late works generally speaking are all high on my list. I think it speaks to Puccini's greatness that his late works seem more relevant now than they did when they were written. I don't know of any minor artists (as many critics regard Puccini though again, happily and tellingly, fewer and fewer) of whom one can say that.
    I find Fanciulla holding up better for me than Turandot. The latter is more overtly spectacular, but the colorful exoticism can't conceal what I find to be a difficulty in the work's fundamental idea and in the corresponding inhumanity of its protagonists. Puccini wanted to show the transformation and humanization of Calaf and Turandot through their confrontation with the self-sacrificing love of the hapless Liu, but in the opera as it stands I don't think he succeeded in finding the music to make that rather high-flown and perhaps unrealistic concept credible, and I doubt that his projected final duet would have done the trick. Puccini venerated Wagner, and he seems to have wanted Turandot to move on that composer's plane of mythic symbolism, but really he's much more at home, much more his essential self, in Fanciulla, where he can bring irresistible poignancy to the emotions of recognizable people.

    For years I was a bit contemptuous of Puccini for what struck me as morbid sentimentality, even while acknowledging his brilliant musical/theatrical skill. I've thought better of him in later years, but I was always fascinated by Fanciulla, and Il Tabarro has joined it as one of my two favorite Puccini operas. In both of them he avoids milking to the limit the pathos of victimized femaleness which - let's face it - nobody does better, but which I don't care to wallow in for recreation.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-17-2021 at 17:55.

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  21. #27
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    For years I was a bit contemptuous of Puccini for what struck me as morbid sentimentality, even while acknowledging his brilliant musical/theatrical skill. I've thought better of him in later years, but I was always fascinated by Fanciulla, and Il Tabarro has joined it as one of my two favorite Puccini operas. In both of them he avoids milking to the limit the pathos of victimized femaleness which - let's face it - nobody does better, but which I don't care to wallow in for recreation.
    I like Il Tabarro too. It's a shame that it's followed by (or supposed to be anyway) by an opera (Suor Angelica) that glories in what you call his morbid sentimentality. One of the reasons I like the Scotto recording, and the staged performance (from the Met?) I've seen is that it eschews quasi religious sentimentality and turns the opera into a mini psychodrama about the effects of sexual repression, almost making it akin to Powell and Pressburger's darkly intense movie Black Narcissus. Angelica's vision then becomes more of a drug fueled halucination and her suicide less cloyingly sentimental.

    The cruel humour of Gianni Schicchi is then the perfect antidote. In fact, when you think of it, all three operas are pretty dark.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-17-2021 at 18:55.
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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    I like Il Tabarro too. It's a shame that it's followed by (or supposed to be anyway) by an opera (Suor Angelica) that glories in what you call his morbid sentimentality. One of the reasons I like the Scotto recording, and the staged performance (from te Met?) I've seen is that it eschews quasi religious sentimentality and turns the opera into a mini psychodrama about the effects of sexual repression, almost making it akin to Powell and Pressburger's darkly intense movie Black Narcissus. Angelica's vision then becomes more of a drug fueled halucination and her suicide less cloyingly sentimental.

    The cruel humour of Gianni Schicchi is then the perfect antidote. In fact, when you think of it, all three operas are pretty dark.
    Maybe that Suor Angelica would make the opera a little more interesting to me. Schicchi is fun to watch, but I'm not very interested in listening to it again. I find most operatic comedies better seen than merely heard.

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  25. #29
    Senior Member Azol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    One of the reasons I like the Scotto recording, and the staged performance (from te Met?) I've seen is that it eschews quasi religious sentimentality
    It's indeed from The Met and it was available as a 2DVD-package from their website. Scotto is featured in all three operas and it has been a highly enjoyable evening at The Met. Bacquier is (quite unexpectedly) amusing Schicchi and MacNeil is sufficiently powerful as Michele. Very much recommended!

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    Senior Member vivalagentenuova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon
    It's a shame that it's followed by (or supposed to be anyway) by an opera (Suor Angelica) that glories in what you call his morbid sentimentality. One of the reasons I like the Scotto recording, and the staged performance (from the Met?) I've seen is that it eschews quasi religious sentimentality and turns the opera into a mini psychodrama about the effects of sexual repression, almost making it akin to Powell and Pressburger's darkly intense movie Black Narcissus. Angelica's vision then becomes more of a drug fueled halucination and her suicide less cloyingly sentimental.
    Suor Angelica is the least successful of the three Trittico operas, imo, although the Princess-Angelica scene is fantastic. If the whole opera were on that level, it would equal Tabarro for sure. But I don't feel quite as negatively towards the ending as you. The main problem for me is that the music is not as inspired as it should be. Some critics say that's because Puccini couldn't do transformation, which I think is ridiculous because Fanciulla is transformative and utterly inspired and successful. Still, I like it much better in the context of the three than on its own. In Tabarro, Giorgetta and Michele's child dies, and both are overcome by despair and unable to save themselves from it. In Angelica, she is overcome with despair almost to the point of killing herself, but is saved because she asks to be (which Michele and Giorgetta are unwilling to do). In Schicchi, the children don't die, they get married, and it's the old guy who dies. That progression is interesting to me, and I think seen or listened to as a contrast to the other works, Angelica works much better than it does alone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon
    The cruel humour of Gianni Schicchi is then the perfect antidote. In fact, when you think of it, all three operas are pretty dark.
    I understand where you're coming from, but I actually find Schicchi to be one of the most light filled and life affirming of all operas. That's why I took my username from it. I read it as an archetypal comedy: the proper functioning of society, the passing away of the old and the flourishing of the new, is impeded by the corruption of the old order who try to hold on to power and wealth that should flow to the new generation, and in the end that impasse is overcome and the new generation is able to take its rightful place and get married. It's the setup of many Shakespeare comedies. Gianni Schicchi acts as the chaotic element that breaks the impasse and restores the balance. At the end of the opera, the young couple gaze out over Florence, which looks like "Paradiso" (enforcing the Hell-Purgatory-Heaven associations of each opera, which, intentional or not, are very strong), and the city can continue to flourish. The opera is scathing towards the corrupt old order, and is full of Puccini's characteristic irony, but is not cynical overall, because it affirms love, life, and art.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azol
    Well, since we're talking "quirky" here, I can probable amend my list by replacing Fanciulla with La Rondine. Count me as a fan, I think I have at least 4 different versions in my collection and I'm open for more. This waltzing little gem of an oper(a/etta) never fails to put me in a cheerful mood, especially Act 2!
    I love La Rondine too! Moffo's recording is my favorite, and Piero de Palma is absolutely hilarious as Prunier.

    Rondine is sentimental in a certain sense, but there's also something ironic about it that swings it back the other direction for me, because the opera opens with a discussion of whether "l'amor sentimentale" is a joke or something serious. The two couples play out either side of the argument, and this meta element, which is present throughout, binds the opera together structurally.
    Last edited by vivalagentenuova; Sep-17-2021 at 19:47.

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