Sam's annual opera thread

samzheresamzhere BannedPosts: 10,923 Senior Member
With fall here, all over the place, in cities and colleges, opera companies of all sizes are beginning their season. You may find yourself "roped" into attending an opera occasionally, or persuaded to do this, or you may actually want to sample a "real" opera. So this thread will offer a brief intro to the subject.

Of course, to enjoy an opera, you'll have to first have at least a modest appreciation or liking for classical music, even if it's sidebar and not too passionate. Just so that you "somewhat like" an occasional classical piece, that's enough. Because the operas I'm listing are ALL those with "tunes" and "songs" (arias -- "aria" is simply a solo -- or duets or whatever) that have a hummable and interesting musical line, something that is immediately "listenable" because the tune is catchy.

The operas I'm listing also have either exciting or funny story lines, and are entertaining. Just remember that in a movie, no matter how good the movie, it consists of actors on a set before a camera, faking it 100% no matter how good the flick. And sure, nobody actually stands there and sings a song about something, true. But nobody actually stands there in front of a big camera and recites lines and pretends to be a soldier or cop or superhero, either. It's all fake, folks. So you've got to assume suspension of disbelief for a movie, a TV show (SOA isn't a documentary, huh) and the same for an opera. So, my short list including the original language:
  1. Rigoletto by Verdi (Italian)
  2. Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) by Mozart (Italian)
  3. The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote) by Mozart (German)
  4. La Boheme (The Bohemians) by Puccini (Italian)
  5. The Barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia) by Rossini (Italian)
  6. Carmen by Bizet (French)
  7. Of Mice and Men by Carlisle Floyd (English)

If you're worried about not understanding Italian or French or whatever, just realize that when you attend a rock or CW concert and the song's in English, you often can't understand the exact lyrics either. But regardless, English translations are projected above the stage (supertitles) on a wide electronic billboard and you can glance up and catch the lyrics' translation.

All these operas are, as I've said, very entertaining -- they've either got strong, dramatic stories or are genuinely comical. And the music is "listenable".

Also realize that like most anything else (guns, cars, movies) about 90% aren't worth crossing the street to see or hear. Enjoying SOME operas doesn't mean that you will enjoy ALL operas. Just equate this to vehicles or guns and you'll understand that there aren't a lot of true good ones out there. Same for operas.

Btw, you don't have to dress up for an opera. Only idiots wear tuxes. Decent street clothes are just fine, jeans even. You can go casual or what's known as "office casual" most of the time.

Just don't be late! When the music starts, nobody is let inside till an intermission. Which you might think "good!" but in fact late arrivals irritate everyone around, and preventing them entering was pioneered by Toscanini.

Okay, an intro for each opera in the list follows, and if you've got comments or questions about specific operas, feel free to ask. You might also check YouTube for excerpts, just to get the flavor, and read the story line in Wiki.

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
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Replies

  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Rigoletto by Verdi

    My most intense opera, maybe the most dramatic and fierce opera ever. Set in "olden days", the Duke of Mantua is the ruler, absolute authority, and he's brutal and amoral, but also handsome and loves the ladies. Rigoletto is his hunchback royal jester (the nickname comes from the Italian "rigole" which is a verb to laugh loudly). Like all jesters, he's got the protection of the Duke and so he spews out hatred to all the courtiers, who hate him in return and plot vengeance on him.

    Serious bad stuff happens in this opera, and as the late Beverly Sills said, "Nobody in the opera's any damn good!" which was why she loved it. You've got a rape, betrayal, murder plot, kidnapping, another rape, another murder, more betrayal, a horrible double switch, a whorehouse and murder den combined, depravity everywhere, and what's generally regarded as the most intense and gripping ending in all of opera. It leaves even grown men crying. Blood and more blood.

    The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart

    Some say it's the most perfect opera ever, and it's a total delight, a sort of romantic comedy. The French playwright Beaumarchais wrote a trilogy of plays about his "hero" Figaro, who's a barber, a go-to guy, and his amorous adventures. In the play is a vicious series of speeches that criticize the monarchy and hope for all of them to be murdered asap. Naturally the plays were banned. But Mozart cut out all the nasty stuff and turned it into a comedy.

    Figaro is handyman and best pal and go-to guy for the Count. He's like the smart and clever butler for a stuck up lord. Understand, Figaro's a freeman and he's about to marry Susanna, who's also free (but a servant) and she's the pal and handmaiden to the Countess.

    The Count is trying to get into Susanna's pants and this angers Figaro, naturally. So he plots revenge. But not to murder the Count (as was threatened in the original play) but instead, Figaro wants to embarrass the Count in court, make a fool of him. So Mozart made this a very "modern" comedy without any hatred, just sarcasm and clever gotchas all thru the opera. In the first act, Figaro sings "Se vuol ballare" -- You will dance (my little count) but dance to MY tune.

    So outwitting the Count and embarrassing him is the story line, plus Figaro and Susanna trying to get married before the Count interrupts this event out of jealousy -- he's got the hots for Susanna. So we've got very "modern" servants, free people who are for the first time, exercising their equality with nobility and getting away with it.

    Amazingly beautiful music, lots of clever humor, digs at the rich and royals, very laughable story line.

    The Magic Flute by Mozart

    This is a fairy tale, a fantasy pure and simple. Mozart wrote it in German for the common people rather than the aristocratic Italian. And the opera was a huge hit and still is. You've got a princess in peril, a not-so bright but brave prince, a mysterious and noble sorcerer/king, a nasty and magical Queen of the Night, "demons", 3 fairies as guides, a mystical society (Freemasonry is the underlying pattern, as Mozart was a Mason), a dragon, and who is likely the most beloved character in all of opera, Papageno, the sidekick and comic relief for the noble prince.

    Charming and enchanting is the base for this opera, and the music is terrific (Mozart, duh). Older kids will also love this opera. And of course a happy ending. Lots a fun.

    La Boheme by Puccini

    Set in gay 90s Paris on the Left Bank, it's a fairly realistic and glowing story of a "starving artist" who falls in love with a poor gal who's just moved to the big city. The story is regarded as maybe the most romantic and loving of all operas. Charming and very entertaining, with genuinely realistic characters, and I promise you: Your lady will LOVE you if you take her to see this opera. And you'll even enjoy it.

    (more later)

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    The Barber of Seville by Rossini

    Another fun romantic comedy, with a truly laughable story. Figaro is the barber but he's also a fix-it man for anything you want. His "Largo al Factotum" (Figaro here, Figaro there) is famous. It comes right at the beginning of the opera and Figaro sings about how he can get you most anything you want.

    Figaro becomes pals with the Count. This is the first play in the "Figaro" trilogy. The 2nd was turned into "Marriage of Figaro" and the third play? Nobody's ever been able to clean it up sufficiently to make it into an opera as yet, ha ha.

    Anyway, the Count has a crush on the local teenage beauty Rosina and wants to marry her. But this old and rich businessman wants her too, and the story line is a comic plot where the old guy is fooled and Rosina is paired up with the Count, per Figaro's tricks and plots. And of course Rosina does marry the Count and becomes the Countess, and Figaro his hired by the Count as his top buddy and servant. "Barber" is a typical romantic comedy with plenty of laughs and lively music.

    Carmen by Bizet

    A dramatic tragedy. Carmen is a part-time whore (truly) and working days at the cigar factory, rolling smokes. Yes, this opera is a very realistic story. To counter all the gods and goddesses and kings and such in traditional opera, many composers wrote operas set in "real life" situations, such as Puccini's La Boheme, about the Parisian "beatniks" of the gay 90s era. And Carmen is also meant to be fairly realistic.

    Carmen is arrested for stabbing a fellow worker gal during an argument over a man. The young sergeant Don Jose is supposed to guard her but she "vamps" him and promises him her "favors" and he succumbs, being very young and dumb. So he actually is a deserter as well as law breaker and the two are on the run. A pretty major romantic drama, with a tragic ending.

    Of Mice and Men by Floyd

    The only "modern era" opera I'm listing. This is a brilliant version of the great Steinbeck novella, with lyrics taken directly from the book. If you know the story you will see the tragedy and this opera is an authentic version of the story, exactly the same plot. It's also a very realistic opera, rough characters, a murder, and a highly dramatic musical event. Gripping, honest.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Re: Sam's annual opera thread

    THANK GOD it's an annual thread :tooth: :jester: :spittingcoffee:
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    Re: Sam's annual opera thread

    THANK GOD it's an annual thread :tooth: :jester: :spittingcoffee:

    Of course. Wouldn't want to rattle the brain and challenge the mind too much. Heaven forbid you might enjoy something new and different. ha ha

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    Of course. Wouldn't want to rattle the brain and challenge the mind too much. Heaven forbid you might enjoy something new and different. ha ha

    How do you know it's new and different to me? I may have tasted that wine and simply not liked it. Sure it is one of the cultural arts we may have been taught about in school and told how to understand and appreciate it, but that doesn't mean one has to like it or go to (or listen to) the opera.

    Heck, probably plenty members on here were thinking you were gonna talk about the Grand Old Opry House in Nashville!
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 26,365 Senior Member
    Been to a couple of operas voluntarily. I was 'volunteered' to attend one in Genoa, Italy a long time ago, too. Danged Navy! I liked the music a lot. The singing not so much. The orchestras were top notch, but listening to someone sing in a foreign language was boring. Unlike a foreign movie, there were no English subtitles. I can't even come close to remembering the name of the one I got volunteered to attend in Italy, but I remember the singing reminding me of a couple of tomcats on a back fence having a difference of opinion; it detracted from the music.

    Another shocker; I've also attended a couple of ballets. 'Swan Lake' in NYC was nice. Beautiful music and the dancing was super. That was in the '70s, too.
    If the U.S. Congress was put in charge of the Sahara Desert, there would be a shortage of sand in under six months.



  • shushshush Senior Member Posts: 6,259 Senior Member
    tennmike wrote: »
    Unlike a foreign movie, there were no English subtitles.

    Thank the Lord for Gilbert and Sullivan.

    One for a ex-Jolly Jack Tarr?


    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR41MOKP-zok7TqwmJPGZ3BhkaKVCfHTKj3co0JhHyXe6siMpMu

    cjp wrote: »..... Oh dear God, I've admitted to liking something Limey.I'll never hear the end of this.

    Jayhawker wrote: »...But seriously Shush....

    Big Chief wrote: ».........walking around with a greasy butt ain't no fun, though!

     


     

  • LMLarsenLMLarsen Senior Member Posts: 8,337 Senior Member
    I have also heard and attended plenty an opera performance, except the one I'd really like to attend:
    tommy.jpg
    “A gun is a tool, no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

    NRA Endowment Member
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    How do you know it's new and different to me? I may have tasted that wine and simply not liked it. Sure it is one of the cultural arts we may have been taught about in school and told how to understand and appreciate it, but that doesn't mean one has to like it or go to (or listen to) the opera.

    Heck, probably plenty members on here were thinking you were gonna talk about the Grand Old Opry House in Nashville!

    Can't stand the twang. Now the "Outlaws" (Willie, Waylan...)? Sure.

    I don't remember anybody in the school where I went telling me that opera was meant to be appreciated. Maybe in some snobby private school but I went to the PS and nobody knew from opera there.

    I'm essentially self-taught re. classical, got bit by the bug as a kid, singing Mozart, Haydn, Bach, etc in the Episcopal church choir, then segued from that to general classical and later, legit opera (I sang opera for 4 years). My folks wouldn't have known classical music if it ran them over, being Dorsey and Big Band type fans, other than my Dad having sung classical liturgical music in his church choir as a kid.

    Opera is an acquired taste, like scotch. It's definitely not for everyone but I still maintain that anyone who "sort of" likes "some" classical music would enjoy seeing, mmm, The Magic Flute. My former girlfriend had never heard classical at all, but I just asked her one day if she's like to hear Beethoven's Ninth. She loved it. And then I took her to see Houston Grand Opera perform Rigoletto and she was bawling at the finale. And loved it. She liked the "melodies" (which I specifically focused on in my recommended list) and she also liked the big stage, the costumes, the pageant of it (HGO is one of the premiere opera companies in the world).

    Not everybody's cuppa tea, for certain, and I made this clear. But anyone who "generally" likes an occasional classical tune would probably be pleasantly surprised at seeing a good production of one of the operas I list. Not that it makes much of a difference, really. Plenty of other things to do. But if the chance occurs, I'm just recommending not to reject opera out of hand.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    tennmike wrote: »
    I remember the singing reminding me of a couple of tomcats on a back fence having a difference of opinion; it detracted from the music.

    Another shocker; I've also attended a couple of ballets. 'Swan Lake' in NYC was nice. Beautiful music and the dancing was super. That was in the '70s, too.

    Well, not much worse than bad opera singing. If the singing reminded you of cats squalling, you got zigged by an awful bunch of bad singers. Real opera singers have gorgeous voices and are very spot on key, and never screech. Bad ones, yeah, I've heard 'em. Ick.

    Wanna see great dancing, see Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Awesome modern dance, intense sexual power.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    shush wrote: »
    Thank the Lord for Gilbert and Sullivan.

    One for a ex-Jolly Jack Tarr?

    G&S? As bad as most Broadway musicals, trite and repetitive music, comic book plots, terribly dated Victorian dialogue and lyrics. Kind of amusing for 4-5 minutes and then boooring.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,615 Senior Member
    Pontification.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    How do you know it's new and different to me? I may have tasted that wine and simply not liked it.

    So, just out of curiosity, which "wine" (which opera) did you try? Like I said, there are many operas I wouldn't walk across the street to hear if they paid me. Maybe you saw the "Taurus" of operas?

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • shushshush Senior Member Posts: 6,259 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    G&S? As bad as most Broadway musicals, trite and repetitive music, comic book plots, terribly dated Victorian dialogue and lyrics. Kind of amusing for 4-5 minutes and then boooring.


    Really, I see.

    So unlike all that Classic Italian/ German. :uhm:
    Gene L wrote: »
    Pontification.

    Poncey, covers it better.

    You do mean the music and not Sam, I take it? :devil:

    cjp wrote: »..... Oh dear God, I've admitted to liking something Limey.I'll never hear the end of this.

    Jayhawker wrote: »...But seriously Shush....

    Big Chief wrote: ».........walking around with a greasy butt ain't no fun, though!

     


     

  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    So, just out of curiosity, which "wine" (which opera) did you try? Like I said, there are many operas I wouldn't walk across the street to hear if they paid me. Maybe you saw the "Taurus" of operas?

    Why Sam, The Phantom of the Opera, of course, old and new movie versions. :jester:

    I honestly don't remember except I didn't care for it. I've seen performances on TV too, not for me.

    I think all schools (public too) try to give students a sample of classical literature/music/drama and opera and hope the students will take it from there, maybe spark a lifetime interest.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • BAMAAKBAMAAK Senior Member Posts: 4,434 Senior Member
    Only thing worse is rap and not all of it is worse. I'd rather have a toothache. To each his own.
    "He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and politician
  • shushshush Senior Member Posts: 6,259 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    But a serious question, what's the difference between an opera and a musical?


    Opera......No comprende- No comprende!!

    cjp wrote: »..... Oh dear God, I've admitted to liking something Limey.I'll never hear the end of this.

    Jayhawker wrote: »...But seriously Shush....

    Big Chief wrote: ».........walking around with a greasy butt ain't no fun, though!

     


     

  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    The wife wanted to go see The Magic Flute. I said "I've got your magic flute, right HERE."


    I refuse to "read" a movie or live performance. Call me an ignorant hick, but I like my entertainment in 'Merican.


    But a serious question, what's the difference between an opera and a musical?

    http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2011/may/04/difference-between-opera-and-musical

    Ged Dale, Eccles, Lancs

    One is a blowsy, overblown and preposterous melodrama played out to a hysterical score. The other usually features some dancing.

    Steve Pine, Brighton

    When someone starts singing after being stabbed, its an opera.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • shushshush Senior Member Posts: 6,259 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    .... Call me an ignorant hick, but I like my entertainment in 'Merican.

    Bit of a oxymoron there '' you ignorant hick '' , you did say.

    PS.

    I did not go near the ''The Magic Flute'' thing, did you see. :nono:

    cjp wrote: »..... Oh dear God, I've admitted to liking something Limey.I'll never hear the end of this.

    Jayhawker wrote: »...But seriously Shush....

    Big Chief wrote: ».........walking around with a greasy butt ain't no fun, though!

     


     

  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,615 Senior Member
    The Magic Flute is also called the Masonic Opera because it's heavily influenced by the Freemasons, of which Mozart was one. Which exhausts my knowledge of opera.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • BAMAAKBAMAAK Senior Member Posts: 4,434 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    But a serious question, what's the difference between an opera and a musical?

    Usually about 200 lbs of female flesh.
    "He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and politician
  • tubabucknuttubabucknut Banned Posts: 3,520 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »


    But a serious question, what's the difference between an opera and a musical?

    I honestly can not remember all of the differences, but one of them is that there is no spoken dialogue in an opera. Everything is sung, sometimes in a style known as recitative, sometimes in what you would think of as traditional song style. In a musical you can have moments of just plain acting with spoken dialogue. Another difference is that an opera will use no sound reinforcement. No microphones, and or speakers will be used to project the sound into the audience.
    It's because I hate Trump.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,615 Senior Member
    The Magic Flute is in Singspiel, which is a mixture of dialogue and singing...or so I read. I've never seen it and probably never will.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • tubabucknuttubabucknut Banned Posts: 3,520 Senior Member
    Sam

    I like
    Tosca
    Various Works by Wagner
    Aida
    Carmen
    Among others. I tend to like the larger works of the Romantic period, rather than the Classical or Baroque. I usually do not listen to entire works. I have certain arias or overtures I enjoy. The rest bores me.
    It's because I hate Trump.
  • tubabucknuttubabucknut Banned Posts: 3,520 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    The Magic Flute is in Singspiel, which is a mixture of dialogue and singing...or so I read. I've never seen it and probably never will.
    Entirely possible. I slept through most of that part of music history, and it was over 12 years ago, so my memory is sketchy at best.
    It's because I hate Trump.
  • LMLarsenLMLarsen Senior Member Posts: 8,337 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    G&S? As bad as most Broadway musicals, trite and repetitive music, comic book plots, terribly dated Victorian dialogue and lyrics. Kind of amusing for 4-5 minutes and then boooring.

    Ah, tolerance. As long as we agree with you.
    “A gun is a tool, no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

    NRA Endowment Member
  • tubabucknuttubabucknut Banned Posts: 3,520 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    G&S? As bad as most Broadway musicals, trite and repetitive music, comic book plots, terribly dated Victorian dialogue and lyrics. Kind of amusing for 4-5 minutes and then boooring.

    Very interesting observation. Many of the same types of observations can be made of operas as well. Trite, repetitive music, comic book plots. Yep check, check, and check. I remember the snooty vocalists at school as well. Turning their noses up at musicals while Opera continues its slow death as a musical form. There is not an Opera today that can hold a candle to the ticket sales of a Broadway musical. And Classical musicians wonder why no one comes to see their stuff anymore. Contempt for ones fan base does a lot to turn away possible fans.
    It's because I hate Trump.
  • shushshush Senior Member Posts: 6,259 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    ....If you know where that line came from, (without googling) you're the kind of folk I like to hang around with.


    img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=6414259

    cjp wrote: »..... Oh dear God, I've admitted to liking something Limey.I'll never hear the end of this.

    Jayhawker wrote: »...But seriously Shush....

    Big Chief wrote: ».........walking around with a greasy butt ain't no fun, though!

     


     

  • tubabucknuttubabucknut Banned Posts: 3,520 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    "

    If you know where that line came from, (without googling) you're the kind of folk I like to hang around with.

    Sorry I don't know the reference, but I did invest in a tuba if that helps. :jester:
    It's because I hate Trump.
  • BAMAAKBAMAAK Senior Member Posts: 4,434 Senior Member
    LMLarsen wrote: »
    Ah, tolerance. As long as we agree with you.

    Nailed it
    "He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and politician
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