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Discussion Starter · #682 ·
Are you communicating with aliens?
Let's make it about the music.

I've found listening to Liszt this week more enjoyable than I was anticipating and boy can Trifinov play!

Dante Symphony, the third Année de Pèlerinage and Allan's Piano Symphony left for me before I head back up the chronology to catch up on a few pieces I missed earlier in the year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #683 · (Edited)
A second full opera week to take us to the half-way point of our journey. More great opera than you can shake a stick at, and far too much listening for one week, so make your selections wisely. For me, I plan to revisit a couple of favourites, then head to some new-to-me works.

Level 1
Verdi, Giuseppe:
La Traviata
Wagner, Richard: Der Ring des Nimbelungun ii. Die Walküre


Wagner, Richard: Der Ring des Nimbelungun i. Das Rheingold
Wagner, Richard: Tristan und Isolde




Verdi, Giuseppe: Rigoletto



Level 2
Wagner, Richard: Der Ring des Nimbelungun iii. Siegfried
Wagner, Richard: Der Ring des Nimbelungun iv. Götterdämmerung
Verdi, Giuseppe: Aida


Verdi, Giuseppe: Otello

Level 3
Wagner, Richard: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Wagner, Richard; Tannhäuser
Bellini, Vincenzo: Norma
Wagner, Richard: Parsifal
Wagner, Richard: Der Fliegende Hollander
Offenbach, Jacques: Les Contes d'Hoffmann
Verdi, Giuseppe: Il Trovatore
Wagner, Richard: Lohengrin
Verdi, Giuseppe: Falstaff


Level 4
Gounod, Charles: Faust esp. Jewel Song


Verdi, Giuseppe: Don Carlo
Offenbach, Jacques: Orphée aux enfers
Verdi, Giuseppe: La Forza del Destino
Suppé, Franz von: Light Cavalry Overture
Verdi, Giuseppe: Nabucco esp. Chorus Of The Hebrew Slaves
Bellini, Vincenzo: I Puritani
Verdi, Giuseppe: Un Ballo in Maschera

Level 5
Gounod, Charles: Romeo et Juliette
Verdi, Giuseppe: Macbeth
Offenbach, Jacques: La Belle Hélène
Flotow, Friederich von: Martha esp. Ach So Fromm

Level 6
Suppé, Franz von: Poet and Peasant Overture
Bellini, VincenzoLe Sonnambula
Verdi, Giuseppe: Simon Boccanegra
Wagner, Richard: Rienzi
Verdi, Giuseppe: Luisa Miller
Verdi, Giuseppe Ernani
Nicolai, Otto: Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor

Level 7
Bellini, Vincenzo: I Capuleti e I Montecchi
Balfe, Michael: The Bohemian Girl
Wagner, Richard: Die Feen


Honourable mentions:
Adam, Adolphe: Le Postillon de Lonjumeau & Si J'Etais Roi
Lortzing, Albert: Zar and Zimmerman
Barnett, John: The Mountain Sylph
Cornelius, Peter: The Barber of Bagdad
Strauss, Johan II: A Night in Venice
 

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The Tales of Hoffman is good fun. I’m not at all interested in those middle period Verdi operas but I can say one thing - I enjoyed Simon Boccanegra. I’d certainly be interested to know what you make of the complex Don Carlos - strange ending, and then there’s the Fontainebleau scene, and the choice of Italian or French. I’m not sure that any of these things can work from an audio recording.

Have I seen Faust? I can’t remember (maybe confusing it with Werther.)
 

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In case anyone is like me, nerdy and obsessed with Der Ring, I have found two very fun supplements to the traditional audio/visual media. And possibly good gifts for millennial and gen z friends and family of yours who are daunted by the prospect of diving into these massive operas. They'll definitely get you hooked!

1) The Ring of the Nibelung by P. Craig Russell: It's an almost line-by-line translation of the libretto, paired with high end modern graphic novel images. It's been really fun to read it while listening to the opera. It's slower than just reading it for sure, but it's almost like watching a well-done animated version of the opera. It also slows me down so that I can appreciate the art work a bit more and immerse myself into the images. It also pairs well with the collection of Arthur Rackham's images for Der Ring.



2) Siegfried by Alex Alice: a three-part re-telling/adaptation of the cycle, originally French but available in English. A more modern graphic novel. Beautiful and exciting and a lot of fun. Not quite something you can read along with the opera as the story order is quite different.




PS: Apparently P. Craig Russell, when not illustrating massive superhero or Neil Gaiman graphic novels, writes and illustrates graphic novels based on operas as his passion projects. I'm definitely going to look up his other works -- fun to see someone taking opera into a surprising new medium! He has a Pelleas & Melisande, Salome, The Magic Flute, Parsifal, Ariane & Bluebeard, I Pagliacci. And it looks like he's worked with Arizona Opera to make a Carmen graphic novel that's coming out soon. Going to scrounge around my public library to look for copies!
 

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Discussion Starter · #687 · (Edited)
The Tales of Hoffman is good fun. I’m not at all interested in those middle period Verdi operas but I can say one thing - I enjoyed Simon Boccanegra. I’d certainly be interested to know what you make of the complex Don Carlos - strange ending, and then there’s the Fontainebleau scene, and the choice of Italian or French. I’m not sure that any of these things can work from an audio recording.

Have I seen Faust? I can’t remember (maybe confusing it with Werther.)
My approach to opera is to listen and/or watch all operas nominated in the top two levels, often plus the top recommended opera of other composers, such as Gounod's Faust this week, and listen to only highlights of the rest, usually about 30-45-minutes including the overture and top-rated arias. If I really enjoy the highlights, then I'll look to download the rest of the opera. I have some highlights of Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlos that I'm hoping to have time to listen to later in the week.

I'm alternating composers each day, Verdi's La Traviata on Saturday and Wagner's Die Wauküre yesterday - Solti's cd and the Met's Levine/Terfel/Kaufmann dvd in the evening - so have Aida 'on-deck' today. Barenboim's Tristan und Isolde cd up tomorrow and the dvd in the evening. Verdi's Rigoletto - Sierra/Hvorostovsky cd & Damrau/Flores dvd - for Wednesday. Gounod's Faust and the highlights of others on Thursday and Friday. Opera weeks are always a challenge to spend enough time appreciating the piece. In a normal week, I'd get down the list to the equivalent of Rienzi. I doubt I'll get to the bottom of Level 3 this week, although I'm dipping down to sample just a few below that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #688 ·
(It's a bit late to post this now), but there is also this
Die Geisterinsel
I'll confess I'm still struggling to understand what pieces are singspiel and what aren't.

I listen to and very much enjoyed Jacob's Leonore. It seemed to me to fit the broad description of singspiel - a form of German-language music drama, now regarded as a genre of opera ... characterized by spoken dialogue, which is alternated with ensembles, songs etc. - yet it isn't 'labeled' as such as far as I can tell.
 

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My approach to opera is to listen and/or watch all operas nominated in the top two levels, often plus the top recommended opera of other composers, such as Gounod's Faust this week, and listen to only highlights of the rest, usually about 30-45-minutes including the overture and top-rated arias. If I really enjoy the highlights, then I'll look to download the rest of the opera. I have some highlights of Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlos that I'm hoping to have time to listen to later in the week.

I'm alternating composers each day, Verdi's La Traviata on Saturday and Wagner's Die Wauküre yesterday - Solti's cd and the Met's Levine/Terfel/Kaufmann dvd in the evening - so have Aida 'on-deck' today. Barenboim's Tristan und Isolde cd up tomorrow and the dvd in the evening. Verdi's Rigoletto - Sierra/Hvorostovsky cd & Damrau/Flores dvd - for Wednesday. Gounod's Faust and the highlights of others on Thursday and Friday. Opera weeks are always a challenge to spend enough time appreciating the piece. In a normal week, I'd get down the list to the equivalent of Rienzi. I doubt I'll get to the bottom of Level 3 this week, although I'm dipping down to sample just a few below that.
Bon courage
 

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I'm enjoying the opera highlights this week! I wish I had the time (and the A/V gear) to watch the Met HD opera versions. This is probably the era and the music I've been most familiar with and am most attracted to.

I'm skipping the Ring as I've been going through my own intensive journey with that in recent months. My first listen through the highlights (beyond the prelude and Liebestod) of Tristan und Isolde makes me want to one day see that opera live even more! And I haven't revisited La Traviata since watching a Met HD stream in 2020. Such a beautiful and powerful opera.

This is an easy week for me. I'm naturally drawn to Wagner's grand fantasy/mythology stories and his epic music. And Verdi is just so masterful. I was fortunate to catch Trovatore and Tannhauser as my first two post-2020 live operas -- though I found Trovatore to a bit too dour to be a top favorite. Not a lot of levity or tonal variation in that story, just lots of anger and violence and revenge. Awesome music, a good story, but not an excellent story, IMO, so I can see why it's a notch below Rigoletto and Traviata. Tannhauser had more pure beauty and more pure lust than Trovatore, so I think it made for a more engaging and dynamic story.

I've long wanted to see all of Verdi's other major works, and the Rigoletto highlights were awesome. Listening to Aida highlights now, which is frustrating because I had tickets to an LA Opera performance of it a month ago, but had to give them up because I was stuck at home with covid! gah! I heard it was a great show. Looking forward to tuning into Otello, and right on theme with the Shakespeare in the Park fest starting up in our local park this July. After seeing Joel Coen's Macbeth last winter, I've been jonesing to see Verdi's Macbeth live, or any/all of his Shakespearean operas.

I find it fascinating that Rheingold is at a higher level than Siegfried and Gotterdammerung. Rheingold and Gotterdammerung, I think, are my two favorite of the cycle. I think Seigfried's first act drags on with too much recap and exposition, but it's great after that. I had always assumed that Walkure and Gotterdammerung were the most celebrated episodes and that Rheingold was the least celebrated, all based on my web explorations on these topics. Anyway, I love them all, and the relative rankings that Chillam has tallied surprised me.

I have revisited bits of Tannhauser recently. After seeing it live last year (with the Venusburg ballet sequence), I listened to that overture several times a day for the subsequent month. Mesmerizing! In recent weeks I've returned to the Grand March Freudig Begrüßen Wir Die Edle Halle because it reminds me of a video game I played in 2020 and is just wonderfully courtly music. Very chivalric, very high fantasy!

Happy listening to all!
 

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I'm enjoying the opera highlights this week! I wish I had the time (and the A/V gear) to watch the Met HD opera versions. This is probably the era and the music I've been most familiar with and am most attracted to.

I'm skipping the Ring as I've been going through my own intensive journey with that in recent months. My first listen through the highlights (beyond the prelude and Liebestod) of Tristan und Isolde makes me want to one day see that opera live even more! And I haven't revisited La Traviata since watching a Met HD stream in 2020. Such a beautiful and powerful opera.

This is an easy week for me. I'm naturally drawn to Wagner's grand fantasy/mythology stories and his epic music. And Verdi is just so masterful. I was fortunate to catch Trovatore and Tannhauser as my first two post-2020 live operas -- though I found Trovatore to a bit too dour to be a top favorite. Not a lot of levity or tonal variation in that story, just lots of anger and violence and revenge. Awesome music, a good story, but not an excellent story, IMO, so I can see why it's a notch below Rigoletto and Traviata. Tannhauser had more pure beauty and more pure lust than Trovatore, so I think it made for a more engaging and dynamic story.

I've long wanted to see all of Verdi's other major works, and the Rigoletto highlights were awesome. Listening to Aida highlights now, which is frustrating because I had tickets to an LA Opera performance of it a month ago, but had to give them up because I was stuck at home with covid! gah! I heard it was a great show. Looking forward to tuning into Otello, and right on theme with the Shakespeare in the Park fest starting up in our local park this July. After seeing Joel Coen's Macbeth last winter, I've been jonesing to see Verdi's Macbeth live, or any/all of his Shakespearean operas.

I find it fascinating that Rheingold is at a higher level than Siegfried and Gotterdammerung. Rheingold and Gotterdammerung, I think, are my two favorite of the cycle. I think Seigfried's first act drags on with too much recap and exposition, but it's great after that. I had always assumed that Walkure and Gotterdammerung were the most celebrated episodes and that Rheingold was the least celebrated, all based on my web explorations on these topics. Anyway, I love them all, and the relative rankings that Chillam has tallied surprised me.

I have revisited bits of Tannhauser recently. After seeing it live last year (with the Venusburg ballet sequence), I listened to that overture several times a day for the subsequent month. Mesmerizing! In recent weeks I've returned to the Grand March Freudig Begrüßen Wir Die Edle Halle because it reminds me of a video game I played in 2020 and is just wonderfully courtly music. Very chivalric, very high fantasy!

Happy listening to all!
Thanks. I wonder how much time I would have to set aside to get to where you are with Verdi and Wagner. I've told myself, someday I'll do it..

But coming back to an earlier memory of them is worth a lot, for a personal view.
 

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Thanks. I wonder how much time I would have to set aside to get to where you are with Verdi and Wagner. I've told myself, someday I'll do it..

But coming back to an earlier memory of them is worth a lot, for a personal view.
Indeed -- it's easy to return to your favorite pieces of music. I think because of my deep love for and formal education in cinema, the operas of Verdi and Wagner, and maybe Wagner more than most, have been extremely appealing. So it's been very easy for me to set aside the time to get into these works. My immediate understanding of them upon first encountering their operas was that these were the mega blockbusters of their day, and so I am quite drawn to them and their type of musical storytelling. More than anything else I've encountered (theater, literature, etc), opera seems to be the most direct forerunner of the cinematic arts, especially once sync sound became widespread by the early 1930s. Verdi, Wagner, and probably even more so Puccini were clearly influences on the film scores of the 20th century. And it's apparent to me that films like Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, or any number of grand epic cinematic tales are greatly indebted to opera.

Anyway. All to say that I was pre-conditioned by cinema to be very open and interested in the works of Verdi and Wagner. But I have barely scratched the surface, yet!
 

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Indeed -- it's easy to return to your favorite pieces of music. I think because of my deep love for and formal education in cinema, the operas of Verdi and Wagner, and maybe Wagner more than most, have been extremely appealing. So it's been very easy for me to set aside the time to get into these works. My immediate understanding of them upon first encountering their operas was that these were the mega blockbusters of their day, and so I am quite drawn to them and their type of musical storytelling. More than anything else I've encountered (theater, literature, etc), opera seems to be the most direct forerunner of the cinematic arts, especially once sync sound became widespread by the early 1930s. Verdi, Wagner, and probably even more so Puccini were clearly influences on the film scores of the 20th century. And it's apparent to me that films like Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, or any number of grand epic cinematic tales are greatly indebted to opera.

Anyway. All to say that I was pre-conditioned by cinema to be very open and interested in the works of Verdi and Wagner. But I have barely scratched the surface, yet!
Thanks. That's a little different than most music fans. Up front, you have the background to appreciate what's presented.
And we're so lucky that so much is available (of high quality). I've found many famous operas on Youtube as animated and shortened cartoons. I don't know if they've been taken down by now.
 

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Thanks. That's a little different than most music fans. Up front, you have the background to appreciate what's presented.
And we're so lucky that so much is available (of high quality). I've found many famous operas on Youtube as animated and shortened cartoons. I don't know if they've been taken down by now.
Yes, I realize I've probably come into classical music backwards. I know almost zero about music theory and performance (I don't play anything, can't read music). And what I've loved about this forum and this thread is that it's showing me the music that I imagine most normal classical music fans learned first either from music lessons or just from exploration.

Prior to opera I had never understood pre-20th century classical music. It's all very abstract. With opera, the music is grounded in a narrative that is very easy to follow. Just like a film score. And so it's easy to pair the emotions/ideas of the music with the emotions/ideas of that narrative. Once I understood how that worked -- the patterns and language of the music and how it paired to abstract ideas -- the rest of classical music opened up to me and it just clicked.
 

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It was all very close at the top. Das Rheingold got one recommendation that the others didn't, and Die Waukure two.
I can see that Rhinegold may come across as OK in a highlights recording. However, I think it is particularly boring and bad opera - that long long second scene, for example. I would be reluctant to see it again in the opera house. The whole of Rhinegold and the prologue to Gotterdammerung are real low points IMO. If I were going to Gotterdammerung I’d deliberately get there late.

Siegfried is great fun because it’s a fairy tale.
 

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Rhinegold has a great beginning and end, the rest is a bit mixed with a lot of "exposition". I don't think it is ever staged apart from complete Rings (so are Siegfried and Goetterdaemmerung or only rarely but they would work better as separate pieces).
 

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Discussion Starter · #698 ·
I can see that Rhinegold may come across as OK in a highlights recording....
Interesting you should say that. The recommendation Das Rheingold received that the others didn't wasn't for the full opera, but specifically for, "Act II, Entry of the Gods into Valhalla". I should perhaps have annotated the entry in the listing.
 

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Interesting you should say that. The recommendation Das Rheingold received that the others didn't wasn't for the full opera, but specifically for, "Act II, Entry of the Gods into Valhalla". I should perhaps have annotated the entry in the listing.
I think everyone is in agreement. The tricky part is that Rhinegold is technically broken up not by act but by scene. Four scenes. And the awesome entry into Valhalla is the last scene. So that recommender is being imprecise with their writing

indeed the second scene, which is fricka, Wotan, the giants et al arguing about payment for Valhalla and learning about alberich is relatively dull. Very expositive and no action save the abduction of Freia
 
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