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Best opening scene:

Nozze di Figaro. In two beautiful and involving duets the two main characters, the setting (the marriage preparations of Susanna and Figaro) and the problem at the heart of the plot (the Count's agenda) are introduced in an incredibly natural way.

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When I thought about this I realised I couldn't recall the opening bars of most operas, even some of my favourites. But there is one that stands out for its tremendous orchestral blast in the opening notes. The drama of a ship trying to make harbour in a storm played out by the orchestra and chorus and then.... Esultate! I'm drained just thinking about it.

Best opening scene: Otello
Darn, wished I'd thought of that before Figaro...

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I think we could do with more operatic comedies and more Spanish operas so I think Almodovar's Todo sobre mi madre would make a great opera.

From Wikipedia:
"The film grew out of a brief scene in The Flower of My Secret, telling the story of a mourning mother who, after reading the last entry in her dead son's journal about how he wishes to meet his father for the first time, decides to travel to Barcelona in search of the boy's father. She must tell the father that she had their son after she left him many years ago, and that he has now died. Once there, she encounters a number of odd characters - a transsexual prostitute, a pregnant nun, and a lesbian actress - all of whom help her cope with her grief.

The film revisited Almodóvar's familiar themes of the power of sisterhood and of family. Dedicated to Bette Davis, Romy Schneider and Gena Rowlands, All About My Mother is steeped in theatricality, from its backstage setting to its plot, modeled on the works of Federico García Lorca and Tennessee Williams, to the characters' preoccupation with modes of performance.

The comic relief on the film centers on Agrado, a pre-operative transsexual. In one scene, she tells the story of her body and its relationship to plastic surgery and silicone, culminating with a statement of her own philosophy: "you get to be more authentic the more you become like what you have dreamed of yourself".[37]

All About My Mother received more awards and honors than any other film in the Spanish motion picture industry.[38] Its recognition includes an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a Golden Globe in the same category, Best Director Award and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury Award at Cannes;[39] the French Cesar for Best Foreign Film, the Goya Award as best film of the year, best Actress in a Leading Role for Argentine actress Cecilia Roth and a twelfth Annual European Film Award."

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Tristan and Isolde's exchanges in act one of Tristan. Potion Schmotion, methinks those two doth protest to much.

Why is this a seduction scene? Psychologists will tell you that playing hard to get can be the best way to attract someone.

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We must be onto the next question by now. Opera Composer most likely to win in a bar brawl?

Wagner seemed to be getting into scrapes a lot, but then Puccini had quite a macho image with his 'Cars, Women and Song' persona.

However, my choice goes with Mozart. He'd knock you to the floor, fart in your face and then run away giggling!

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Hmm not sure what "best suicide" means... Brunnhilde's immolation maybe? It's my favorite scene of those scenes that involve the suicide of a character. Or Liu's in Turandot might be the most sympathetic, with her offering herself up to protect Timur from torture.
Darn, somebody got there before me. It has to be Brunnhilde's immolation, she kills herself and saves the whole world.

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For the record I absolutely adore Cherubini's Medea. Its music is at least forty years ahead of its time and Beethoven himself was an admirer of the piece. It may not be as musically refined as Mozart, but the drama is perfectly communicated by its visceral music (of course, it was soon superseded by the romantic movement). However, it may well be the nirvana of drama in classical opera.

I am a Callas fan, but I hope not obsessively so, but yes, there are some Callas fanatics on TC. You know who you are! :devil:

Best music? I have to distinguish between best music and favourite music. I think for best music from a purely academic point of view would have to be the Ring Cycle, no other work gets anywhere close to how different and creative this work is musically (not even Tristan).

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Well, frankly, Schadenfreude is hard for 'me' to take.

If one person does something exceptionally great, it should be recognized in my book- but never denied or disparaged for the sake of "Hipster" leveling. . .

'Chris Rock'- wasn't he the outstanding anti-luminary who said that "Obama's your daddy?"

Queens, as sovereigns, won't be ruled by anybody.

Perhaps that's where the sting is for some people. ;D
I sometimes feel that comments about Callas on TC can be OTT. It's not when people praise her, but when other singers are denigrated for not being her. It's the idea that Callas' performances of everything she sang were definitive. I think this does her a great disservice, as when we are talking about an artist of Callas' caliber the idea that there is only one way to interpret a particular part is a little stupid. Isn't Callas' gift that she made people understand the possibilities that they hadn't before seen in a role? After all, Callas herself was constantly adding depth and nuance to her interpretations. Very few artists reach this level of interpretative, emotional genius, but Callas is not the only one to have done so.

Some posts on here read as though Callas was the greatest person at all and everything (and as somebody has pointed out above, even of operas that she never sang!) It may seem a somewhat odd comparison, but an artist I feel is of Callas' caliber in the ballet world is Uliana Lopatkina, not only does she have a total command of technique, but she inhabits the roles that she plays. Whereas other ballerinas might dance through the steps with ease, she never loses sight of the fact that she is also playing a role and some of the virtuoso movements are danced together with the music in such a way that they become part of the characterisation rather than just a tricky hurdle to make the audience think "WOW, how did she do that?" A spin or a rapid fluttering of her legs in Swan Lake aren't just choreography to be executed with grace and precision, but are made to represent the suffering or the longing of Odette.

It's when posters here suggest things along the lines of: Lopatkina is wonderful, but she's nowhere near as good as Callas would have been had she been a ballerina! that fandom becomes ridiculous fanatacism.

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