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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Live opera is almost always an extremely powerful experience, but there are some performances that truly go above and beyond. What is the greatest performance you have ever attended? When and where was it? Who was in it?
 

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Carol Vaness was all set to make her debut in Norma but withdrew on short notice. Speight Jenkins, our general director was a great new singer scout and recruited a young English singer, Jane Eaglen, to make her North American debut in the role. At the time she was perhaps the leading Donna Anna in Europe. She was a good deal lighter at that point and her voice was in prime pre Wagner condition and she BLEW Seattle away. Norma was always my favorite opera but I was certain I would never hear a singer who had a voice big enough for the part to sing both beautifully and with the dexterity that the part demanded, but Eaglen really astonished me and I went twice. I never felt her studio recording lived up to her live performance and she didn't take the D like she did in the trio live. My the time she sang Norma at the Met 7 years later she was singing Wagner a good bit and I think her flexibility suffered a bit. She had also gained about 50 pounds and combined with getting older made her breath support suffer I suspect. Unlike Callas, who's weight loss likely exacerbated her vocal problems later on, I think the opposite happened with Eaglen. You can support a voice properly being obese when you are 30 but run into problems when you get close to 50. The same thing happened to Rita Hunter, who had a similar voice and weight problem to Eaglen and who sang similar roles.

My favorite live concert was a Verdi Requiem with Alessandra Marc, Vinson Cole and Florence Quivar. Marc's voice was so big, so beautiful, so lyrical that I was in heaven and I had the handsomest date in the house. She had by far the most spectacular high notes I have ever heard- both in terms of size and beauty but she also had that quality Rysanek had where the voice blooms at the top and the vibrato gets more exciting. I'll never forget it.
 

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Why do some peformances take off more than others? Who knows? I remember how this happened with a performance of Der Rosenkavalier given by Scottish Opera at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne back in the early 1970s. I saw it on a Saturday night with a large group of friends and then again on the Monday with exactly the same cast, but, for some reason the Monday evening performance was nowhere near as thrilling or moving. The beautiful, traditional production was by Anthony Besch, with designs by John Stoddart, and was conducted by Alexander Gibson. I remember the Marschallin's boudoir in the first act was all mirrored walls (it must have been a nightmare to light) which played a key part in the playing out of the end of the Act. The superb cast consisted of Helga Dernesch as the Marschallin, who looked absolutely gorgeous, Anne Howells as Octavian, Teresa Cahill as Sophie and Michael Langdon as Ochs. (This was the revival. Octavian and Sophie were played by Janet Baker and Elizabeth Harwood the first time round.) Usually during the beautiful orchestral postlude to Act I, the Marschallin refelctively picks up a hand mirror to inspect her face for signs of aging, but in this production it was infinitely more moving. Left on her own, this Marschallin walked sadly over to the chaise in the centre, catching a glimpse of herself in one of the mirrors. Almost in shock, she turned away, but couldn't escape looking at herself as she was confronted by another mirror. Ever so slowly as the curtain came down her hands went up to her face as if for the first time noticing a wrinkle that hadn't been there before. It was indescribably moving. I'd never heard any of the music before but that first hearing of the final trio in which the three female voices soared and twined with one another almost destroyed me. It liertally had us all in tears. It was also clear that Dernesch had the most exceptional voice of the three, but Cahill had a wonderfully soaring top register and Howells was a tremendous actress. Her Octavian was impulsively boyish and utterly convincing in male drag. I've seen many productions of the opera since, including one at Covent Garden with Gwyneth Jones, Brigitte Fassbaender and Edith Mathis, but none of them have ever supplanted that memory.

Another I would mention is a 1983 Carmen at Covent Garden with Agnes Baltsa and José Carreras, who were making their Covent Garden debuts in their respective roles shortly after having had such a success in the opera in Vienna. The traditional production was by Michael Geliot with designs by Jenny Beavan and looked absolutely fantastic.
I had queued from seven in the morning on a cold day to get day seats as all performances had sold out as soon as tickets went on sale. This possibly also added to the excitement. The opera was conducted by Colin Davis, Leona Mitchell was Micaëla and Benjamin Luxon Escamillo, but the stars were undoubtedly Baltsa and Carreras. Baltsa's Carmen was no hip swinging vamp, but a bare-footed wild child, a flurry of movement at her entrance in perfect time with the accompaniment when the chorus sing their repeated La voilà. By contrast in the last act she accepted her fate with totem-like stillness. It was a complete performance where acting and singing were inextricably intwined. Carreras too was a superb José, who convincingy charted the character's inital innocence and eventual degradation. In the last act he was the very epitome of a man who no longer had anything to lose, I have the DVD of a much later performance with these two stars at the Met and it is nowhere near as exciting. There is a suspicion that a whiff of routine has crept into their performances. After all, by this time they had appeared in numerous productions all over the world. However the excitement in the audience that night, both during and after the performance was palpable. It has remained a wonderful memory.
 

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The most powerful performances I saw were on TV or youtube. Maybe I need a comfort of my home ? Or better singers ? My local theater is a lottery, but sometimes you get a decent combination of singers.
EDIT: It's wrong, e.g. we had a really starry Rusalka this year, but I wasn't there. I have several family and health reasons, why I don't like being on watch this way.

Will the first place, unexpectedly, go to the unknown comical opera I saw this year live, in the beautiful summer evening, in a garden of a historical building in Bratislava ? Be it. Nicolo Jommelli: La cantata e disfida di don Trastullo. The chamber orchestra of Musica Aeterna, Lenka Máčiková as the soubrette, Martin Babjak as the naive old guy.
 

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1.A final Met performance years ago with Patricia Racette as Blanche in "Dialogues des Carmelites" was so emotionally jampacked that it just grabbed your gut and even at curtain calls we could see backstage where they were all embracing and crying.
2. Karita Matilla's initial blockbuster performance of "Salome". The audience went wild.
3. My own personal emotional attachment to the Met debut of Rolando Villazon as Alfredo in "Traviata" at the Met with Fleming and Hvorostovsky was thrilling. All 3 in top form.
4. An unforgettable "Romeo et Juliette" at the LA Opera Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with Villazon and Netrebko.
5. The emotion packed "Il trovatore" which was sadly the last performance with Hvorostovsky before he died. The audience (and the orchestra and singers as well) went completely ballistic. He was so grateful and sweet. It was memorable and heartbreaking.
 

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1.A final Met performance years ago with Patricia Racette as Blanche in "Dialogues des Carmelites" was so emotionally jampacked that it just grabbed your gut and even at curtain calls we could see backstage where they were all embracing and crying.
2. Karita Matilla's initial blockbuster performance of "Salome". The audience went wild.
3. My own personal emotional attachment to the Met debut of Rolando Villazon as Alfredo in "Traviata" at the Met with Fleming and Hvorostovsky was thrilling. All 3 in top form.
4. An unforgettable "Romeo et Juliette" at the LA Opera Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with Villazon and Netrebko.
The Salome and Traviata sound heavenly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She was so beautiful when she sang Salome and had the right voice for it.
 

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I'm a bit of a homebody and rarely do concerts I have a few a good memories

1.The Guarneri String Quartet playing Beethoven late quartets at Seiji Ozawa hall at Tanglewood Lenox Ma in the early 2000's
2.The "Met" New York with the "Barber of Seville" mid 1990's

3.2010 Beethoven piano con.3 Leif Ove Andsnes piano and Rachmaninoff 2nd symphony both with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.


on non classical I saw Roger whitaker as a kid and Charlie Daniels as a teen both in Springfield Ma

The only rock show I saw was Sonic Youth in 1992 at Umass student union,free concert I crashed because I was bored
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
An also ran: Eugene Onegin with Fleming, Vargas and Hvorostovsky Enjoy!
I SO wish I could've seen this, but I was far too young. Dima and Renée are absolutely searing in this scene. They convey so much tangible, white-hot passion. An incredible performance that I simply love rewatching again and again. Dmitri's delivery of Onegin's Act I aria, my favorite part of the opera, is just otherworldly. He is to Onegin as Leontyne Price is to Aida and Maria Callas is to Norma.
 

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Does the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway count? If not then I've never attended a proper opera performance. We don't seem to have a strong opera tradition in the mid west. Maybe I'll make it up to Cleveland sometime however attending a grand opera in the likes of Italy or Vienna---someday---would be a dream come true.
 

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Does the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway count? If not then I've never attended a proper opera performance. We don't seem to have a strong opera tradition in the mid west. Maybe I'll make it up to Cleveland sometime however attending a grand opera in the likes of Italy or Vienna---someday---would be a dream come true.
Hi Hogwash:
I have a neat idea for you.
Go to Amazon online and buy a used DVD of "L Boheme" with Neil Shicoff and Ileana Cotrubas. You will be hooked on opera!:cool:
(Here is the ending)
 

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Hi Hogwash:
I have a neat idea for you.
Go to Amazon online and buy a used DVD of "L Boheme" with Neil Shicoff and Ileana Cotrubas. You will be hooked on opera!:cool:
(Here is the ending)
Thanks for the suggestion Nina. To clarify, I've actually watched opera on DVD/Blu-Ray and I'm a fan of excerpts CDs but I've never attended a live performance.
 

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Yesterday I watched Il Trovatore in Mariinsky, for the seventh or eighth time live. My wife and I took to the opera our friend, who recently revealed an interest to opera and can't stop now. Last summer we showed her Aida, Attila and even Parsifal. It was her very first Il Trovatore and I envied her enthusiasm. Nevertheless, we got much pleasure too and remembered our first Il Trovatore several years ago. Then there was another cast with an exception of our favorite Tatiana Serjan as Leonora. It was her why we decided to go. Time doesn't pass without a trace for her, unfortunately, but she is still a very tender and sophisticated Leonora, and no staging can put a crimp in her performance. It's a pity she has little recordings.
Our almost constant Azucena was wonderful Ekaterina Semenchuk, but not this time. Yesterday Anna Kiknadze took the role, according to a programme, for the first time. She has overdone a little old gypsy acting, but her low notes were really infernal. (She is our house mezzo. I might mention her Fricka, Mrs. Quickly and the Princess from The Sorceress).
Manrico and Di Luna were relatively young. Tenor Ivan Gyngazov surprised pleasantly, he has a big beautiful voice and he stopped, finally, parking and barking like he used to in previous seasons (I hope I understand this idiom right).
The baritone was Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar from Mongolia. He has a beautiful timbre, but sometimes drowns in an orchestra and chorus. Di Luna is sung better than Scarpia, when he is barely heard in Te Deum. My choice of Di Luna is Alexey Markov (also an ultimate Onegin), but that evening I had almost nothing to complain.
 

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These are performances, I could call memorable. I can't boast that I've seen live Callas, and of "The three tenors" I've seen only Domingo, just because he couldn't stop singing. But it's only a decade or so in the theater.
1. My first stage Salome with Elena Stikhina.
2. Falstaff in La Scala with Maestri, Lemieux, Cavaletti, Gianattasio.
3. Eugene Onegin in Mariinsky with Markov and Stikhina.
4. Semiramide with DiDonato, Barcellona, Brownlee, Esposito in München.
5. Four Lucias with Shaghimuratova.
6. Don Carlo with Stoyanova, Furlanetto, Semenchuk, Meli in La Scala and with Serjan and Semenchuk in Mariinsky.
7. Manon Lescaut with Tatiana Serjan in Mariinsky.
8. My first Der Ring in Mariinsky.
9. Alceste with Roschmann and Castronovo in München.
10. The tale of the invisible city of Kitezh in Mariinsky.
 

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These are performances, I could call memorable. I can't boast that I've seen live Callas, and of "The three tenors" I've seen only Domingo, just because he couldn't stop singing. But it's only a decade or so in the theater.
1. My first stage Salome with Elena Stikhina.
2. Falstaff in La Scala with Maestri, Lemieux, Cavaletti, Gianattasio.
3. Eugene Onegin in Mariinsky with Markov and Stikhina.
4. Semiramide with DiDonato, Barcellona, Brownlee, Esposito in München.
5. Four Lucias with Shaghimuratova.
6. Don Carlo with Stoyanova, Furlanetto, Semenchuk, Meli in La Scala and with Serjan and Semenchuk in Mariinsky.
7. Manon Lescaut with Tatiana Serjan in Mariinsky.
8. My first Der Ring in Mariinsky.
9. Alceste with Roschmann and Castronovo in München.
10. The tale of the invisible city of Kitezh in Mariinsky.
How big is the opera house in St. Petersburg? Marinsky???
 
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