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I've been reading a book called Skeletons from the Opera Closet and I find one section about opera's biggest failures interesting. The following operas are listed with my descriptions in a nutshell:

  1. Montezuma (1964) by Roger Sessions: No composer has successfully written an opera about the fall of the Aztecs. Sessions is no exception to this.
  2. Adriana Lecouvreur (1902) by Francesco Cilèa: Mlle. Lecouvreur never did this trashy verismo opera.
  3. Lily (1977) by Leon Kirchner: the composer's first opera turned out to be his last because the masses walked out very quickly.
  4. Akhnaten [sic] (1984) by Philip Glass: Minimalism is too boring for opera.
  5. Giovanna d'Arco (1845) by Giuseppe Verdi (mind you, this was before Rigoletto): Joan must carry her own matches here. Also, you might be asking: What happened to the stake?
  6. Antony and Cleopatra (1966, revised 1975) by Samuel Barber: For an Egyptian opera, it looks like we're stuck forever with Aida.
  7. Alfonso und Estrella (composed 1821-1822, premièred 1854) by Franz Schubert: why the King of Lieder sucks at opera.
  8. Mitridate, K87 (1770) by Johann Aurelius Wolfgang Amadeus Hans Christian Mozart: One solo aria follows another… several times in an unbroken row.
  9. Mona (1912) by Dr. Horatio Parker: or Norma meets Tristan und Isolde. How screwed up is that?

List the worst operas in your opinion here.
 

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lol i love it - an opera about the fall of the aztecs! Not that I can't imagine why you'd want to do it, it's a namazing topic.

Have to say, Adriana Lecouvreur is, if not on my list of favorites, one I would happily see at any reputable house. I've got a DVD, and I saw a concert version recently, so I know there's some very engaging music in it.

worst operas - how do you tell which is worst without getting involved in whether or not you personally have failed to appreciate something wonderful? but anyway, here goes:

1) the Met's Rheingold
2) the Met's Flying Dutchman (starting to see a pattern here?)
3) Pelleas et Melisande
4) City of the Dead (that may not be the exact title, it's based on the dostoevsky memoir I think)
5)

no, can't get up over 4. Just trying to think up performances I've seen that my backside can still remember the seat of the chair. If it's that painful - bad opera.
 

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Think no further than August Bungert (late 19th century German composer). Basically, he did bad Wagner rehash and even wanted to build a copy of Bayreuth opera house in another part of Germany.

Wikipedia article here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Bungert

His operas sound to be of not much aesthetic value, put it that way. However, his chamber music was highly regarded by the likes of Brahms, so it sounds like there might be something in his output that is worth listening to.
 

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Antony and Cleopatra (1966, revised 1975) by Samuel Barber: For an Egyptian opera, it looks like we're stuck forever with Aida.
I am an unashamed Barber fan, so I'm still convinced that the colossal failure of this opera was down to bad luck. From what I can tell, there were bad choices made all over the place. It shook Barber's confidence so badly that he barely composed anything afterwards.

My nomination for the silliest opera is Menotti's "Help! Help! It's the Globolinks!". An opera about space invaders! I haven't heard it, however, so maybe it is pretty good? :) ;)

Mitridate, K87 (1770) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: One solo aria follows another… several times in an unbroken row.
Lol, by my calculations he was 13 when he wrote this?
4) City of the Dead (that may not be the exact title, it's based on the dostoevsky memoir I think)
Is this Die Tote Stadt by Korngold? I watched this on recommendation of this forum and rather liked it. :) I like gloomy plotlines. It is based on a novel called Bruges-la-morte.
 

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Personally I like Phillip Glass' operas. I also like Pelleas et Melisande and Die Tote Stadt. How could you possibly hate an opera with this aria:


And this was no "one hit wonder" of an opera:


As for Mozart's Mitridate... well it's certainly no Don Giovanni... but then again, how many here might have done better at 14 years old?
 
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[*]Mitridate, K87 (1770) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: One solo aria follows another… several times in an unbroken row.
:rolleyes: Have you listened to Baroque operas and other early Classical operas that don't often have "one solo aria follows another"? Do you dismiss the entire period, too?
 

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No. By the way, I've slightly overstated my description of Mitridate, but I stand very firmly; practically every number in the opera, except the final ensembles of Acts II and III, is indeed a solo aria.
Why not? Perhaps I'm not following. You wrote that almost every number of Mitridate is a solo aria, and faults the opera because of that. I then suggested that much of Baroque and early Classical operas follow the recipe of recitative-solo da cap arias precisely as that in Mitridate. Thousands of operas.
 

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4) City of the Dead (that may not be the exact title, it's based on the dostoevsky memoir I think)
I assume that is Janáček's House of the Dead, set in a Siberian labour camp, not the cheeriest of works and more a series of individual songs united on a theme than an opera.

My nomination for the silliest opera is Menotti's "Help! Help! It's the Globolinks!". An opera about space invaders! I haven't heard it, however, so maybe it is pretty good? :) ;)
This sounds awesome, and when I say awesome I mean incredibly terrible, I would certainly love to hear it.

One recent operatic work I hated was Vaughan Williams' The Poisoned Kiss, ridiculous and silly while attempting to say profound things. Not sensible enough to be a comedy, too foolish to say anything significant.
 
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I assume that is Janáček's House of the Dead, set in a Siberian labour camp, not the cheeriest of works and more a series of individual songs united on a theme than an opera.
Yes, that's probably the one. That is definitely Dostoevsky.

This sounds awesome, and when I say awesome I mean incredibly terrible, I would certainly love to hear it.
I came across that while browsing the article on Menotti on wikipedia. You can actually purchase it in DVD:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help,_Help,_the_Globolinks!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Menotti-Hel...EBTW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340283145&sr=8-1
 

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Fun thread. The only one I've heard is Mitridate, K87 (1770) by Johann Aurelius Wolfgang Amadeus Hans Christian Mozart. I found it slightly boring, but pretty enough.

Montezuma by Roger Sessions sounds interesting from the point of view that the Johannesburg Zoo will be opening a huge South and Central American exhibit next year, complete with a fresh water aquarium. When parents threaten to feed their children to the piranhas and the anacondas in the future the children will no longer be able to smugly say that there aren't any in Johannesburg. Actually the zoo people are very excited about this exhibit as it is anticipated that this will be a major attraction. It has been several years in the planning. The building is now built and they are waiting for the glass in the aquarium to settle and the plants to grow ... I digress. Montezuma. Nah! It is unlikely that we will get that here.
 

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I saw the PBS telecast of the Chicago Lyric opera's revival of Antony and Cleopatra about 20 years ago and thought it was a terrific opera with some of Barber's best music . The audience reraction was also very enthusiastic.
Alfonso &Estrella may be a nullity from a dramatic point of view, but it contains some very beautiful music .
Back in the LP era, I heard a Philips recording of Vivaldi's opera Tito Manlio , based on an episode of ancient Roman history . It was as long as Die Walkure, and a deadly bore. Just one formulaic Da Capo aria after another.
After hearing it, I felt like Dacapotating myself !
Jullien, the sequel to Gustave Charpentier's opera Louise, was a flop and never entered the repertoire.
I like Louise, and would be curious to hear it .
 

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I like Janacek's House of the Dead but maybe it was an advantage for me to read Dostoevsky's book first. If anyone thinks Dostoevsky's labour camp plot is bleak then it's still a veritable guffawfest compared to Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago...
 

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You know, it wasn't really that the plot was bleak ... it was that the music did absolutely nothing for me. Some productions will work, others won't, that's just the way it goes. If you're not enjoying the music, I dk, maybe ... try again in a year lol
 

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I'm not sure I'd call Adriana Lecouvreur a failure. Historically inaccurate, yes -- but so too are Don Carlo, Un Ballo in Maschera (when the hero is still King Gustav), all three of Donizetti's "Queens" operas, Meyerbeer's L'Africaine, and Pacini's Maria Tudor, just to name a few. Adriana is pretty much established in the mainstream repertoire (to judge by the number of houses that have been performing it), and it's been recorded several times. I agree that the plot may be a little more soap opera than grand opera . . . but it does have some lovely music.
 
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