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Discussion Starter · #881 · (Edited)
It's opera week! Composers born 1841-1939, known mostly for their opera.

Looking forward to reacquainting myself with Cavalleria Rusticana and Paggliacci, and a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan. Never been much of a Puccini fan. Let's see if this week can change my opinion.

Level 1
Puccini, Giacomo: La Bohème

Level 2
Puccini, Giacomo: Tosca

Level 3
Puccini, Giacomo: Madame Butterfly
Puccini, Giacomo: Turandot
Mascagni, Pietro: Cavalleria Rusticana
Leoncavallo, Ruggero: Pagliacci esp. Act 1: "Vestilagiubba"
Massenet, Olivier: Manon

Level 4
Humperdinck, Engelbert: Hánsel und Gretel
Lehár, Franz: Die Lustige Witwe
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: The Mikado
Puccini, Giacomo: Gianni Schicchi (Il Trittico)
Puccini, Giacomo: Manon Lescaut
Giordano, Umberto: Andrea Chénier esp. La Mamma Morta
Puccini, Giacomo: La Fanciulla Del West
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: HMS Pinafore
Ponchielli, Amilcare: La Gioconda esp. Dance of the Hours
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: Pirates of Penzance
Puccini, Giacomo: La Rondine esp. Chi Il Bel Sogno di Doretta, Bevo al Tuo Fresco Sorriso

Level 5
Massenet, Olivier: Thais esp. Meditation
Massenet, Olivier: Werther
Menotti, Gian-Carlo: Amahl and the Night Visitors
Boito, Arrigo: Mefistofele
Wolf-Ferarri, Ermanno: Il Segreto di Susanna

Level 6
Puccini, Giacomo: Il Tabarro (Il Trittico)
Menotti, Gian Carlo: The Saint of Bleecker Street

Level 7
Puccini, Giacomo: Suor Angelica (Il Trittico)
Cilea, Francesco: Adriana Lecouvreur
Menotti, Gian-Carlo: The Old Maid and the Thief
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: Iolanthe
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: The Gondeliers
Mascagni, Pietro: L'Amigo Fritz
Lehár, Franz: The Land of Smiles
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: The Yeoman of the Guard

Honourable mentions:
Catalani, Alfredo: La Wally esp. Ebben? Ne Andro Lantano (I Shall Go Far Away)
Charpentier, Gustave: La Vie du Poète, Louise
Franchetti, Alberto: Germania
Floyd, Carlisle: Susannah
 

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I greatly enjoyed last week. And, maybe unusually, this coming week was the one I've been anxious about. I know I've repeated this elsewhere, but I've struggled with Puccini unlike with any other major opera composer. I don't know why. I like Butterfly but Boheme has always been a struggle for me, both live and on recording. And that is despite Boheme's intriguing, dramatic, interesting story. I couldn't tell you why I find Wozzeck more appealing. Or why I find Butterfly more appealing, for that matter.

But, it'll be a heavy dose of Puccini this week. Will try Boheme yet again. Keeping all the opera listening to "highlights" discs just for time -- lots of Callas lined up for and Carreras this week.

And, kudos to the amazing timing yet again (as with the Dvorak week). By sheer coincidence I will be at a local concert performance of Manon Lescaut on Oct 2, which opens the season for our small local opera company. So maybe, just maybe, I'll be all in on Puccini by then. 😅
 

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It's opera week! Composers born 1841-1939, known mostly for their opera.

Looking forward to reacquainting myself with Cavalleria Rusticana and Paggliacci, and a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan. Never been much of a Puccini fan. Let's see if this week can change my opinion.

Level 1
Puccini, Giacomo: La Bohème

Level 2
Puccini, Giacomo: Tosca

Level 3
Puccini, Giacomo: Madame Butterfly
Puccini, Giacomo: Turandot
Mascagni, Pietro: Cavalleria Rusticana
Leoncavallo, Ruggero: Pagliacci esp. Act 1: "Vestilagiubba"
Massenet, Olivier: Manon

Level 4
Humperdinck, Engelbert: Hánsel und Gretel
Lehár, Franz: Die Lustige Witwe
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: The Mikado
Puccini, Giacomo: Gianni Schicchi (Il Trittico)
Puccini, Giacomo: Manon Lescaut
Giordano, Umberto: Andrea Chénier esp. La Mamma Morta
Puccini, Giacomo: La Fanciulla Del West
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: HMS Pinafore
Ponchielli, Amilcare: La Gioconda esp. Dance of the Hours
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: Pirates of Penzance
Puccini, Giacomo: La Rondine esp. Chi Il Bel Sogno di Doretta, Bevo al Tuo Fresco Sorriso

Level 5
Massenet, Olivier: Thais esp. Meditation
Massenet, Olivier: Werther
Menotti, Gian-Carlo: Amahl and the Night Visitors
Boito, Arrigo: Mefistofele
Wolf-Ferarri, Ermanno: Il Segreto di Susanna

Level 6
Puccini, Giacomo: Il Tabarro (Il Trittico)
Menotti, Gian Carlo: The Saint of Bleecker Street

Level 7
Puccini, Giacomo: Suor Angelica (Il Trittico)
Cilea, Francesco: Adriana Lecouvreur
Menotti, Gian-Carlo: The Old Maid and the Thief
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: Iolanthe
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: The Gondeliers
Mascagni, Pietro: L'Amigo Fritz
Lehár, Franz: The Land of Smiles
Sullivan, Arthur & Gilbert, WS: The Yeoman of the Guard

Honourable mentions:
Catalani, Alfredo: La Wally esp. Ebben? Ne Andro Lantano (I Shall Go Far Away)
Charpentier, Gustave: La Vie du Poète, Louise
Franchetti, Alberto: Germania
Floyd, Carlisle: Susannah
Puccini’s fabulous. And so is Pagliacci. Not sure about the rest on the list. Andrea Chénier maybe worth a shot - and Werther. I’ve seen both and I don’t think it was too painful. Le Wally has a good aria.
 

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Pagliacci has the famous Vesti la giubba. It's one of those arias where the singer can easily lapse into the worst sort of sentimental melodrama. And James McCracken was famous for not holding back

James McCracken "Vesti la giubba" Pagliacci - YouTube

But it's best of all in the Marx Brothers, Night at the Opera, where one of them sings

Ridi, Pagliaccio
I love you very mucho


But I can't find the clip on youtube.
 

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I’ve seen this in the opera house, it was without a doubt the most boring opera I’ve ever seen.
I'm not familiar with The Miserly Knight, but I'll take your word for it.

That said, I've seen perfectly good plays, musicals, and operettas presented in a most boring way.

Is it possible that the opera isn't bad at all, and that you merely wandered into a lousy production of it?
 

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I'm not familiar with The Miserly Knight, but I'll take your word for it.

That said, I've seen perfectly good plays, musicals, and operettas presented in a most boring way.

Is it possible that the opera isn't bad at all, and that you merely wandered into a lousy production of it?
Or the opera company may just have been having a bad Knight.
 

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I think Rick needs to be a bit more miserly with his puns 😜

Any major Puccini fans out there? I'm still running hot and cold on his music. As always, I continue to greatly enjoy Madama Butterfly. And I gave a Callas recording of La Boheme highlights a spin and finally finally finally enjoyed much of that music after flopping with other recordings and a live performance in the past. But then I listened to a similar Callas Tosca highlights from La Scala and found it pretty unappealing to listen to.

Any tips? Aside from the obvious which is to watch them live to get the full experience of the drama? (I would if I had the chance). It bugs me that of all the opera composers that I've heard, it's Puccini that is the lone one I struggle with, esp. since he's one of the biggest names in the genre. And so I feel like I'm missing something that sets his music apart or something that unlocks it for folks. Any and all thoughts appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #894 ·
I think Rick needs to be a bit more miserly with his puns 😜

Any major Puccini fans out there? I'm still running hot and cold on his music. As always, I continue to greatly enjoy Madama Butterfly. And I gave a Callas recording of La Boheme highlights a spin and finally finally finally enjoyed much of that music after flopping with other recordings and a live performance in the past. But then I listened to a similar Callas Tosca highlights from La Scala and found it pretty unappealing to listen to.

Any tips? Aside from the obvious which is to watch them live to get the full experience of the drama? (I would if I had the chance). It bugs me that of all the opera composers that I've heard, it's Puccini that is the lone one I struggle with, esp. since he's one of the biggest names in the genre. And so I feel like I'm missing something that sets his music apart or something that unlocks it for folks. Any and all thoughts appreciated.
I sat through Tosca at the ROH many years ago - corporate hospitality as host including dinner in the, "King's dressing room" during the interval - and together with the dreadful company I was forced to "enjoy" that evening, I left with a low opinion of Puccini that has never recovered.

That said, I found the Netrebko/Villazón DG recording of La Bohème very pleasant, but my experience of the Callas/La Scala recording was the same as yours. I'm setting aside tomorrow to listen a second time to the Freni/Carerras Madama Butterfly, and highlights from the Bocceli/Wilson Turandot which I'm completely unfamiliar with.
 

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I don't know all of Puccini but while I don't much care for La boheme and Butterfly, Tosca is my favorite and I love the atmospheric exoticism of at least the first act of Turandot. Tosca might be a shabby little emotional and gripping shocker but it does what it does really well and with good pacing.
 

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I just listened to to the Rodolfo/Marcello duet in Act 4 of Bohème, and it made me think of the last chapter of L'éducation sentimentale. And then I started to think about exoticism in Salammbô and Turandot. (I don't say I thought very deeply about these things!)

The elephant in the room, by the way, when thinking about Puccini, is Fanciulla -- to me, it sounds so modern! Like Ariadne. I find it easy to forget that Puccini was working at more or less the same time as Strauss.
 

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