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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Confession Time:

My problem when buying opera is that I'm never quite sure of what I like and what I don't like (even though I own a large number of operas already). Look, I have ''classics'' like Adriana Lecouvreur, Aida, La Boheme, Carmen, Les Pecheures De Perles, Faust, Romeo Et Juliette, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Otello, Falstaff. Other operas I have include Il Trovatore, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Turandot, Il Barbiere Di Siviglia, La Cenerentola, L'Elisir D'Amore, Le Nozze Di Figaro, Cosi, Don Giovanni, Yevgeny Onyegin, Boris Godunov, Prince Igor, Rusalka, Cav & Pag, Die Zauberflote, The Abduction From The Seraglio, Manon, Werther, Thais...the list goes on! What are good and popular ''melody-filled operas'' to explore in addition to these? I gravitate towards 19th and early 20th century Italian and French opera. FYI, I prefer productions that are easy to follow and in the spirit of the composer and librettist. Maybe recommend some recital discs too.

Looking forward to reading your recommendations.
 

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Perhaps this is the best place to start?

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Perhaps this is the best place to start?

Thanks. I have seen this before, but I would prefer individual replies on this thread with product images of what people have. There are far too many operas on that thread to know where to continue from my original post. I only want a top 5 or top 10 list, and I'll choose based on my budget.
 

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When you say "And the list goes on..." that is kind of off-putting. How do I know that my choices are not already on your list?
Why not consider making an entire list of YOUR choices and then whatever is missing we could add to the list?
Anyway, I suspect you already have these but here goes:
Mefistofele(Boito)
La Fanciulla del West(Puccini)
Norma(Bellini)
La Forza del destino(Verdi)
 

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I'd also recommend looking at Youtube. There are quite a few full Operas on there, and a search by composer or artist will get you somewhere. For example:




Looking at Youtube will very quickly let you decide whether you like something or not before you buy.

There are other subscription-based services around that have very large libraries of Opera on video that may also be worth looking at.
 

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They are German and early 19th century but I assume you have heard/seen Fidelio and Freischütz?
If you like colorful romanticism and are not too bothered by odd, implausible action (or no real action at all) you could also try Weber's Oberon and Euryanthe.
 

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There is no Bellini on your list.
Try Norma, it is popular, but it can be ruined if sung badly. Go for Callas or Montserat Caballe.
Also la Sonnambula is quite popular, but it is kind of slow and dreamy, so you should judge yourself if you are in a mood to explore something like this.
 

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Bellini: Il Pirata

IMaybe I deviated away from your specification a little. You wanted a popular piece, and this one is played rarely, but I honestly do not know why, except maybe the difficult singing. It is by Bellini, but not as lyrical and slow as his other ones. It is quite swift, the tempo resembles more Donizetti or young Verdi rather than later Bellini himself. And obviously melodical, that is guarranteed with Bellini. It opens up with a tempest, and some believe, it inspired Verdi and his opening of Othello. There is also my favourite tenor aria at the beginning, which is in pollonaise rhythm, "Nel furror delle tempeste". Plus there is a famous finale for the soprano, the mad scene, "Col sorrizo d innocenza".

I bought a recent recording, which won awards last year. I bought not a physical CD, but an online download, which was cheaper. The interprets are Javier Cammarena and Marina Rebeka. On the website Presto music, you can hear short previews of this recording and decide. Recording with Callas exists as well, but incomplete, it is on youtube somewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
When you say "And the list goes on..." that is kind of off-putting. How do I know that my choices are not already on your list?
Why not consider making an entire list of YOUR choices and then whatever is missing we could add to the list?
Anyway, I suspect you already have these but here goes:
Mefistofele(Boito)
La Fanciulla del West(Puccini)
Norma(Bellini)
La Forza del destino(Verdi)
Here is a (near-complete) list of the operas I own, on DVD and Blu ray.

Mozart

Le Nozze Di Figaro
Cosi Fan Tutte
Don Giovanni
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Die Zauberflote

Beethoven: Fidelio

Bel Canto

Il Barbiere Di Siviglia
La Cenerentola
La Donna Del Lago
Mose In Egitto
Lucia Di Lammermoor
L'Elisir D'amore

Verdi

Tutto Verdi boxed set (as well as separate productions of individual operas - Un Ballo In Maschera and Don Carlo)

Puccini

Tutto Puccini boxed set (as well as separate productions of individual operas)

Verismo

Cavalleria Rusticana
Pagliacci
Adriana Lecouvreur
Andrea Chenier
La Gioconda

French opera

Carmen
Les Pecheurs De Perles
Faust
Romeo Et Juliette
Manon
Werther
Samson Et Dalila
Les Troyens
Pelleas Et Melisande

Russian & other Slavic opera

Ruslan and Lyudmilla
Yevgeny Onyegin
Prince Igor
Boris Godunov
Sadko
The Cunning Little Vixen
Rusalka

Operetta

Die Fledernaus
Eine Nacht In Venedig
Der Zigeunerbaron
Die Lustige Witwe
Das Land Des Lachelns
Die Csardasfurstin

This is all I can think of at the moment. Let's see what you can recommend as a top 10 ''opera basics'' kit based on some of these. If you can, please include product images and/or cast lists, as it helps me know what to search for.
 

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Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlo are worthy to be put into "classics".
Among russian operas there is plenty of names and oeuvres unknown even in Russia. But there are also popular and melody-filled ones like Tzar's bride, Sadko, Tale of Tzar Saltan by Rimski-Kórsakov, both operas by Glinka. In case of Tchaikovsky there are some less famous like Maiden of Orleans and Mazepa. Khovanschina, of course, is staged regularly.
And it's impossible not to mention Donizetti's operas about the Tudors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlo are worthy to be put into "classics".
Among russian operas there is plenty of names and oeuvres unknown even in Russia. But there are also popular and melody-filled ones like Tzar's bride, Sadko, Tale of Tzar Saltan by Rimski-Kórsakov, both operas by Glinka. In case of Tchaikovsky there are some less famous like Maiden of Orleans and Mazepa. Khovanschina, of course, is staged regularly.
And it's impossible not to mention Donizetti's operas about the Tudors.
I actually have Sadko (but forgot to include it), but haven't watched it yet. It's the Kirov production. I don't really like Mussorgsky operas.

Remind me the names of Donizetti's Tudor operas again, please?
 

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There are many. First, old recordings:
1) Siepi, Cerquetti, Barbieri, Lo Forese, Bastianini.
2) Ghiaurov, Tebaldi, Bumbry, Bergonzi, Fischer-Diskau, Talvela. Conducted by Solti.
3) Siepi, Regal, Bjorling, Barbieri, Merill, Hines. Conducted by Stiedry. All without Fontainebleau act. I don't know which to advise, such a cast is unaffordable nowadays.
On video there are productions from 1970-s from Choregies d'Orange with Caballe, Estes, Bumbry, Aragall, relatively modern from ROH with Furlanetto, Poplavskaya, Villazon, Ganassi, Keenlyside, La Scala - Furlanetto, Cedolins, Zajick, Neal and Salzburg - Salminen, Kaufmann, Harteros, Semenchuk. Last one is longest ever, in five akts. I've seen it live in La Scala with Furlanetto, Stoyanova, Semenchuk and Meli. So, there are shows for every taste.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
There are many. First, old recordings:
1) Siepi, Cerquetti, Barbieri, Lo Forese, Bastianini.
2) Ghiaurov, Tebaldi, Bumbry, Bergonzi, Fischer-Diskau, Talvela. Conducted by Solti.
3) Siepi, Regal, Bjorling, Barbieri, Merill, Hines. Conducted by Stiedry. All without Fontainebleau act. I don't know which to advise, such a cast is unaffordable nowadays.
On video there are productions from 1970-s from Choregies d'Orange with Caballe, Estes, Bumbry, Aragall, relatively modern from ROH with Furlanetto, Poplavskaya, Villazon, Ganassi, Keenlyside, La Scala - Furlanetto, Cedolins, Zajick, Neal and Salzburg - Salminen, Kaufmann, Harteros, Semenchuk. Last one is longest ever, in five akts. I've seen it live in La Scala with Furlanetto, Stoyanova, Semenchuk and Meli. So, there are shows for every taste.
Thanks for this information. I'd rather start with something shorter and ''lighter'', that moves along swiftly, either because of the conductor's approach/tempo, or the music itself.
 
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