Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Real Housewives of New York

Our friend, the baritone Jeff Mattsey, appeared on The Real Housewives of New York earlier this summer. We last saw Jeff as Marcello in January's La boheme.

And yes. We watched it. In our defense however we thought Top Chef was going to be on. By the time we realized we were wrong, well, we had already been sucked in. Doesn't it always happen that way...

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Company Introduction

A new and improved Company introduction video with lots of wonderful performance clips. Enjoy!

Podcast Monday

This week, Dr. Nic takes a listen to great Faust tenors on record.

You can download the podcast here. Enjoy!

Over the Weekend

A slow weekend in opera news.

Aria Serious has received word that the first Klingon Opera will premiere next month. In the Netherlands. And we all know what they're smoking...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

The tradition continues - San Diego Opera will be closed this Friday. So please use our website for all your opera needs this weekend. We'll be back Monday morning starting at 8:30 AM.

So, what are you listening to this weekend?

One of our readers turned us onto to Otto Nicolai's Il Templario, an opera we've never heard before. But we found it, and now own it, so we'll give this a listen on Friday while resting in the hammock. Then we'll move onto the shoegazing pop of Wild Nothing.

Share you listening plans in the comment section below. And make it a good one.

Met Donor Puts Money Where Her Mouth Is

"Your average opera-goer cannot be 65—give me break. You're not going to keep an opera house alive with that," said Met donor Agnes Varis and so she made a donation - $2.5 million to subsidize a program offering $25 orchestra for 13,600 seats during the upcoming season.

We here at Aria Serious, say "thank you Ms. Varis." for ensuring a new generation of audiences will get to experience live opera. Which leads us to thank all of our donors, big and small, who help keep the price of opera tickets down. Believe it or not about 50% of our tickets prices are subsidized by donors, grants and corporations. Opera is incredibly expensive to produce.

Opera at the Movies - The Good vs. Bad Smackdown

Opera at the movies. In one camp you have those that believe it increases audiences and exposure to the art form. On the other hand you have those that feel it erodes audiences by offering a cheap ticket "close enough" to the real thing.

What do you think?

From the Department of WTF?

Aria Serious is simply baffled by the news this morning that the Orange County Register has reassigned their classical music critic, Tim Mangan - the highly intelligent, often funny, excellent writer (who by the way hasn't come down to review us in five or so years *ahem*) from Classical Music Critic to Celebrity Gossip or "People" columnist.

So, another cultural gatekeeper has fallen. And we're crestfallen as he was one of the first stops on the morning jaunt around the blogosphere as we searched for interesting stories.

Tim, we already missed you. Now we'll miss you even more. But perhaps this wouldn't have happened if you made San Diego Opera your regular beat. Who are we kidding; no drunken courtroom brawls here. At least yet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Surviving the Economic Crunch

The newest issue of Opera News is currently on bookshelves and in mailboxes and inside you can find an article that looks at what five opera companies are doing to survive during this current economic storm.

We're one of the Companies featured and it's a very interesting article to read. The good news: we're not going anywhere. We're financially stable and have no debt. Ian even offers up an opera we have planned for 2013.

You can find Opera News at your favorite bookstore or you can read the article online here.

Podcast Monday

OK, so we're a day late. We had some technical problems that have now been fixed and we're sorry for the delay. It's podcast time!

This week, Dr. Nic explores Strauss and his use of leitmotifs in Der Rosenkavalier. You can download the podcast here and as always they are free.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We'll Be Back

The Aria Serious crew will be gone next week, so this place should be quiet for a few days.

We'll also be quiet on the Facebook front.

On Twitter we'll continue our #operahistory project but we'll be taking a week off from all our other tweets.

But we'll be back, better and more rested than ever.

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

A bit of business: San Diego Opera will continue our much appreciated tradition of being closed on Fridays in August. We'll be back Monday, August 16, 2010 for all your opera needs. In the meantime, our website should be able to assist you with everything you might need over the weekend.

As we always ask: what are you listening to this weekend?

This week we're going to listen to Giordano's Andrea Chenier, an opera we love but rarely listen to.

After that we'll listen to 60's R&B rock & roll sounds of 2010's The Like.

Share your listening plans in the comment section. And make it a good one!

Opera Singer or Singer of Opera?

The interwebz (my interwebz at least) has been buzzing with news about 10 year old Jackie Evancho who dazzzled audiences on America's Got Talent this with her rendition of O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.

While the Aria Serious crew thinks this girl has talent, does singing opera automatically make one an opera singer?

We hope Jackie follows her passion and gets some serious training. There might be a career there later on in life if she sticks with it and works hard. We've included her performance below so you can see it for yourself.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Podcast Monday

This week, Dr. Nic takes a listen to Puccini's Turandot and takes a look at the authentic Chinese folk tunes that the composer wove into the fabric of his opera.

Our podcasts are always free and can be downloaded here.

While You Were Out

Over the weekend:

- Washington National Opera's restructuring and talked about merge with the Kennedy Center might be a windfall for the Metropolitan Opera.

- Wagner for children debuts at Bayreuth. A 70 minute Tannhauser? Sold.

- It's probably crap but there will be a run on tickets. The world's first opera about Irritable Bowel Syndrome is here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Opera House Porn

That's the only way to describe these large format photos by David Leventi of the world's famous opera houses. They are truly incredible!

The one here is of Margravial Opera House, Bayreuth, Germany and it is amazing.

But there are plenty more to see and you can view a selection of David's other images here - but a word of warning: you might just pack your bags for a European opera binge if you linger too long. And for those of you in New Orleans, his exhibition opens on Saturday at the Arthur Roger Gallery.

What Are You Listening To This Weekend?

Yes, we're a day early. But first a bit of business: the San Diego Opera Office will be closed tomorrow, Friday, August 6, 2010. We'll be back Monday. In the meantime, let our awesome website be your gateway to the wonderful world of opera. Or you can call us and leave a message. We'll call you back. Promise.

So, what are you listening to this weekend? We're actually going to do a bit of homework this weekend and listen to Der Rosenkavalier to get to know it better. I know, tough bringing work home over the weekend. We all need to do it sometime. We'll also listen to the new Arcade Fire LP and the newest one by Band of Horses.

Share your listening plans in the comment section below, and please, make it a good one.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Story So Far... The Opera History Project

Late last year, after we started our Twitter account, @_SanDiegoOpera, we got the idea to start tweeting the entire history of opera. We were excited. We thought it would be a good idea. In retrospect we bit off considerably more than we could chew. We didn't realize how long it would take. At least two tweets a day, Monday through Friday, we still have plenty of opera history to cover. As we come up on the first year anniversary of our humble little project we thought it would be nice to compile all the tweets so far in one handy place. So, here's the history of opera we've tweeted so far.

A bit into to the project we received some feedback and started adding supplemental audio/video clips to illustrate certain points. We've included links to these as well - embedding would take far too much time, so you'll need to cut and paste to watch them.

And you can follow our up-to-date tweets by following our Twitter account or searching for the hashtag #operahistory.

And yes, we have a feeling we'll be doing this again next year. Enjoy!


The Opera History Project:

#operahistory 1590s Florence: group of musicians-Camerata-try to recreate Greek drama, which they assume was sung.

#operahistory 1590s Florence: Camerata comes up with new ways of artistic/musical expression for sung drama. Story thru song.

#operahistory 1590s Florence: Camerata’s mission highlights poetic text/emotional content through music & dramatic gesture.

#operahistory 1590s Florence: music & poetry equal in importance, text & music serving drama on stage.

#operahistory 1597: Camerata’s efforts lead to creation of first opera, Jacopo Peri’s Dafne, Greek myth, score now lost.

#operahistory 1600: Peri & Giulio Caccini ‘collaborate’ (unhappily) on first “opera”, Euridice for wedding of Henry IV/Maria Medici.

#operahistory 1600: Caccini, highly competitive, forbids his singers to perform Peri’s contributions to Euridice. Peri pissed!

#operahistory 1600: Caccini publishes HIS Euridice version before Peri can. Peri still pissed.

#operahistory 1601: Peri moves from Florence>Ferrara, writes madrigals then disappears. Caccini loses influence, Peri gloats. OK, maybe not.

#operahistory 1607: the history of opera moves from Florence to Mantua with creation of Orfeo, a “fable in music” by Claudio Monteverdi.

#operahistory 1607: Duke of Mantua, Francesco Gonzaga, orders his court musician, Monteverdi, to write Orfeo for Carnival. Fun!

#operahistory 1607: Orfeo. Story about man whose wife dies, goes to hell. Then he goes after her. GREAT story for Carnival, eh?

#operahistory 1607: Orfeo is performed to delighted audience at the Duke’s palace on Feb 24. Duke pleased, but poor Orfeo still in hell.

#operahistory 1607: All of the roles in Orfeo are played by men, even the female roles, sung by castrati. Ouch. Don’t think about it.

#operahistory 1607: Orfeo mixes the new recitative style of Peri (Euridice) & instrumental/choral “interjections”. It works.

#operahistory 1613: Monteverdi in Venice, maestro di capella at San Marco. Writes great church music, and more operas.

#operahistory 1639: Fran. Cavalli produces his 1st opera in Venice, Le nozze di Teti e Peleo. More Greeks, Love conquers Hell (finally)

#operahistory 1640: Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria premieres @ theatre in Venice, again retelling Greek myth.

#operahistory 1641, Venice: Cavalli writes La Didone. Even more Greeks, but Hell takes a rest. Staged opera becomes bigger, grander.

#operahistory 1642, Roman Luigi Rossi produces Palazzo Incantato, 1 of first operas for Rome. Based on Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso.

#operahistory 1643: Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea premieres, Venice. These early operas=GREAT stuff; DVDs exist. Try it!

#operahistory 1643: Monteverdi dies at ripe old age of 76. Not bad for 17th century. Orfeo not first opera, but first ‘successful’ one.

#operahistory 1646: Luigi Rossi writes Orfeo for his patron, Card. Barberini, in exile in France, @ Palais Royal. Opera’s traveling!

#operahistory 1646: At Rossi’s Paris Orfeo is 14 yr. old Jean-Baptiste Lully. Gets ideas. What’s going to stop opera now?

#operahistory: 17th c: Scenery, elaborate costumes and mechanics are integral to opera since inception. Venice=public theatres=$$$

#operahistory: Venetian theatres need a paying public. $$ dictates what composers & poets put on stage. (Nothing’s changed!)

#operahistory: 1650-60: Cavalli’s operas reign supreme in Venice @ numerous public opera theatres; opera=bigger, longer & uncut.

#operahistory: 17th c: little or no distinction between aria/recitative during this era. Cavalli’s arias interspersed w orch. ‘statements’.

#operahistory: 1660: Cavalli goes to Paris, writes opera for Louis XIV nuptials, taking more Italian opera to France.

#operahistory: 1662: Cavalli’s Ercole Amante performed in Paris. Lully provides ballet music. Sun King dances. Big hit, but 6 hrs long!

#operahistory: 1666: Italian opera travels to every important capital. Vienna sees Cesti’s Il Pomo D’Oro @ wedding of Leopold I.

#operahistory: 1664-70: Lully collaborates w Moliére, produces comédies-ballets, combining song/dance/spoken word.

#operahistory: 1669, Paris: poet Pierre Perrin gets royal patent for Académie d’Opéra, but ends up in debtor’s prison for bad business.

#operahistory: 1672: Lully convinces King to give opera patent to him, screw Perrin! 1st opera: Les Fêtes de L’Amour et de Bacchus.

#operahistory: 1674: Lully produces Cadmus et Hermione, French vernacular opera is established. Writes 1 opera/year til death, 1687.

#operahistory: 1674: Lully produces Alceste, is praised for the color/imagination in his instrumentation. King & mistress delighted!

#operahistory: 1672: Marc-Antoine Charpentier pairs up with Moliére, taking Lully’s place, writes other musical stage works.

#operahistory: 1675, Paris: Charpentier produces Circé. Singers turn into pigs, not for the first time, nor the last. More Greeks. Sigh.

#operahistory: 1679, Rome: Gli equivoci nel sembiante by Alessandro Scarlatti performed. Christina of Sweden takes notice.

#operahistory: 1680, Rome: Scarlatti’s L’honestà negli amori performed @ Christina’s palace. A star is born (Scarlatti, not Chris!)

#operahistory: 1680s, Paris: Lully produces brilliant tragédies-lyriques for opera stage, incl. Armide, Amadis, Roland, Acis et Galatée.

#operahistory: If you don’t believe some of these early French operas are great theatre, try a CD or DVD w Les Arts Florissants/Christie.

#operahistory: 1680s, Venice: the da capo aria begins to make appearances, a form that Handel & other 18th c. composers will exploit.

#operahistory: 1684: Scarlatti moves to Naples to direct opera @ Teatro di S Bartolomeo. Writes way too many operas to count!

#operahistory: 1689, London: Henry Purcell produces Dido and Aeneas in English, his only fully-sung operatic work.

#operahistory: 1690s: Purcell follows Dido w “semi-operas”, combining music, dance, song, spoken dialogue.

#operahistory: 1690s: Purcell’s semi-operas stretch definition of opera. Isn’t it sung thru? What place spoken word in opera? Discuss.

#operahistory: 1693: Charpentier’s Médée performed @ Académie Royale de Musique, greatest French opera since Lully.

#operahistory: 1694, Naples: Scarlatti’s Pirro e Demetrio scores a triumph & is even played in London in composer’s lifetime.

#operahistory: Thru Scarlatti’s operas, aria & recitative take on greater distinction, tunes predominate, thx to Neapolitan influence…

#operahistory: …on the other hand, Scarlatti is not as responsible for operatic innovations as we used to think. Gorg music, tho! Griselda!!

#operahistory: All of the important surviving operas of the 17th c. are examples of opera serie, ‘serious’ opera, i.e. tragedy/heroic/mythic.

#operahistory: Opera subjects don’t stray far from the Greeks, ancient history or epic poetry (Ovid, Ariosto, Tasso, etc.) in 17th c.

#operahistory: 1697 Andre Campra produces L’Europe Galante, the opera-ballet a genre that becomes very popular in 18th c. France.

SUPP: hear overture to L’Europe Galante, Campra, on YouTube.

#operahistory: Campra, master of music at Notre Dame, is forbidden to work in theatre, so he hides under his brother’s name, Joseph.

#operahistory: late 1600s: you won’t find this is all the history books. Hamburg becomes important center for opera, late 1600s.

#operahistory: late 1600s: roots of German opera are put down in Hamburg at the Gänsemarkt Theater, golden era lasts 61 yrs.

#operahistory: 1678 Earliest opera composer in Hamburg is Johann Theile, writes Adam und Eva for 1st public opera house outside Venice.
#operahistory: 1693 Georg Telemann, noted as a church composer, writes 1st opera Sigismundus at age 12 for street theatre, Hamburg.

#operahistory: 1697 Reinhard Keiser, most important German baroque opera composer, begins working in Hamburg, writes Adonis, ’97.

#operahistory: 1701 Telemann becomes director civic opera in Leipzig, then Sorau, Eisenach & Frankfurt, 1712. Busy man.

#operahistory: 1700s With Telemann so busy in Leipzig & other German towns, one wonders why Bach didn’t write opera. Discuss.

#operahistory: 1700s Opera is in Eisenach, Bach’s hometown, and Leipzig, where he works. Was absence from opera due to piety?

#operahistory: 1700s To appease Lutheran church officials, early Hamburg operas used biblical stories & themes. Opera=Satan!

#operahistory: 1707 Scarlatti produces Il Mitridate Eupatore in Venice but the serious, highly expressive score flops w audiences.

#operahistory: 1708 Nicola Porpora writes his first opera for Naples, Agrippina, & establishes himself there & in Vienna at court.

#operahistory: 1710 Keiser writes his masterpiece, Croesus, for Hamburg. Recorded by Jacobs, Harmonia Mundi B0004ZD64

SUPP: Hear Jacobs’ recording of Croesus overture on YouTube:

#operahistory: 1711 Handel writes first opera for London, Rinaldo, in two weeks & gets 15 performances. Live birds in Act II a big hit.

SUPP: David Daniels sings “Cara sposa” from Rinaldo on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3rqm9l3mw0

#operahistory: 1711 Domenico Scarlatti, Aless’ 6th child of keyboard sonata fame, also in opera biz: Tolomeo et Alessandro for Rome.

SUPP: Hear a duet from Domenico Scarlatti’s 1st opera L’Ottavia on YouTube.

#operahistory: 1718 Al. Scarlatti back in Naples, writes the comedy Il trionfo dell’onore, a great success and his only true comic work.

#operahistory: 1719 A. Lotti writes operas for Dresden-crazy about Italian opera- but the experience drives him back to church music!

#operahistory: 1720, Radamisto by Handel, then Giulio Cesare in 1724. Cesare’s a GREAT work, run do not walk to see it!

SUPP: Cornelia/Sesto duet from Handel’s Giulio Cesare on YouTube.

#operahistory 1721 Aless Scarlatti writes his final opera, Griselda, a brilliant work. Jacobs’ recording Harm Mundi B0000AOVOE.

SUPP: Hear an aria from Griselda, Jacobs recording, on YouTube.

#operahistory 1721 Porpora writes Eumene for Rome, becomes famous outside Naples, teaches castrati Farinelli & Caffarelli.

SUPP: Hear an aria from Siface, opera by Porpora, 1725, on YouTube.

#operahistory 1720s Castrato Farinelli begins illustrious career 1st in Naples, then all over Europe, coming to London in 1733.

SUPP: See excerpt from film Farinelli, 1994, on YouTube.

#operahistory 1724 Handel’s Tamerlano premieres, King’s Theatre, London, one of few of his operas to have a principal tenor role.

SUPP see and hear da capo aria “Ciel e terra” from Tamerlano by Handel on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Neq5uo-m2HI

#operahistory 1728 The Beggar’s Opera premieres, London, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 1st of new genre: ballad operas.

#operahistory Beggar’s Opera created by John Gay, text, Johann Pepusch, music, all popular tunes/ballads of the time.

#operahistory Beggar’s Opera meant to be a free mix of prose play, verse and music; original has 69 musical numbers.

#operahistory Beggar’s Opera could arguably be seen as the forerunner to the popular musical show in all forms incl operetta/B’way.

SUPP see and hear “A maid is like the golden ore” & dialog from The Beggar’s Opera

#operahistory 1729, Venice: premiere of Artaserse by Johann Adolph Hasse, student of Porpora and Scarlatti, a game-changing opera.

#operahistory Hasse’s Artaserse wildly popular, contains clever devices, theatrical coups, text/music match perfectly.

#operahistory Hasse/Artaserse uses keys to express emotional/psych states: Eflat=noble sentiments, Bflat=royalty, E=anguish, etc.

#operahistory Part of the popularity of Artaserse is the appearance of Farinelli, castrato, as Arbace.

SUPP aria for Farinelli “Per questo dolce” from Artaserse, Vivica Genaux, mezzo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-Jw9qy_Dn4

#operahistory 1729 The libretto for Artaserse is by Pietro Metastasio, 1698-1782, most prolific librettist of the time.

#operahistory Metastasio’s libretti become the standard in operatic practice, begins career in Naples, eventually goes to Viennese court.

#operahistory Metastasio’s libretti are set by Vinci, Hasse, Pergolesi, Caldara, Handel, Galuppi, J.C. Bach, Gluck, Mozart, Haydn, etc.
#operahistory 1731 Giovanni Battista Pergolesi writes his first opera, Sallustia for Naples.

#operahistory 1731 Charles Coffey’s The Devil to Pay premieres, Drury Lane, eventually becomes the 2nd most popular ballad opera.

#operahistory Coffey’s Devil gets translated into German in 1743, plays Berlin, helps kick off the singspiel genre (Zauberflöte).

#operahistory 1732 Vivaldi writes operas dating from 1713, but La Fida Ninfa is a watershed moment: Venice, Teatro Filarmonico

#operahistory La Fida Ninfa is a striking work, each character has specific style of music, brilliant orchestral interludes.

SUPP Cecilia Bartoli sings “Dite, Oime” from La Fida Ninfa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHW4qFUC16U

#operahistory 1732 Handel and Hasse both set Metastasio libretti: Ezio (Handel) and Il Demetrio (Hasse).

#operahistory 1733 La Serva Padrona Pergolesi’s masterpiece performed as an intermezzo between acts of Il prigionier Superbo

#operahistory 1733 It. comic opera (opera buffa) can be seen as evolving from La Serva Padrona, satirical, witty, bold comic strokes.

#operahistory Padrona becomes the standard for opera buffa, surviving intact thru 18th/19th c. which was unusual for opere buffe

#operahistory opere buffe were often subject to singers’ whims, substituting arias from other operas, even changing plots/titles

#operahistory Jumping ahead to 1752, Padrona plays Paris in translation, causes great controversy, kicks off genre opera comique

SUPP See the opening aria from La Serva Padrona on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCV2nBPMlDk

#operahistory 1733 At relatively late age of 50 Jean Phillipe Rameau writes his first opera: Hippolyte et Aricie.

#operahistory And so another opera, Hippolyte, causes controversy in Paris, now divided into Ramistes & Lullistes!

#operahistory Hippolyte was considered ‘misshapen’ & ‘over complicated’, i.e. BAROQUE; 1st work described thusly.

#operahistory Influence of Hippolyte, however, was huge. The Lully traditionalist faction feared obliteration of his beloved works!

SUPP A delightful instrumental fugue from Hippolyte by Rameau on YouTube

SUPP Dramatic, expressive moment from Hippolyte w Anne Sofie von Otter.

#operahistory 1734 Vivaldi’s L’Olimpiade premieres, Venice, Metastasio libretto. Vivaldi’s answer to the Neapolitan composers.

SUPP Cecilia Bartoli performs “Siam navi all’onde algenti”, Olimpiade

#operahistory 1735 Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes premieres, Paris Opera, certainly one of composer’s masterpieces.

#operahistory If you can find DVD of Galantes w Les Arts Florissants, catch Wm Christie rocking out @ curtain call! Hysterical!

SUPP Excerpt from Galantes shows how these early operas can be brought to life today! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zegtH-acXE

#operahistory 1737 More Rameau: Castor et Pollux premieres, Paris Opera, widely regarded as R’s masterpiece.

#operahistory Castor et Pollux is performed 254 times between 1737 & 1785, phenomenal for the time!

SUPP Choral scene & arie, “Quel bonheur” from Castor on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCrscMzyDLg

#operahistory A word about Rameau & tragedie lyrique genre: not much changed from Lully’s treatments 50 yrs earlier.

#operahistory BUT tragedie lyrique becomes associated w the court & is strongly assoc w royalty/political hierarchy.

#operahistory As such, tragedie lyrique comes under fire from Rousseau & other critics in mid-century; Fr opera looks for alternatives.

#operahistory 1738, Haymarket Theatre, Handel’s Serse permieres. Interesting mix of serious/comic. 1st perf’d as an oratorio.

#operahistory For two centuries Serse aria “Ombra mai fu” survives the opera itself. Sung @ my high school graduation!

SUPP “Ombra mai fu” in Serse performance, Les Talens Lyriques. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiRaJe9tD94

#operahistory 1741 Christoph Willibald Gluck makes his opera debut w version of Metastasio’s Artaserse in Milan, Teatro Regio.

#operahistory Gluck’s Artaserse is yet another setting of a Metastasio libretto. He later ‘reforms’ Metastasian opera for greater drama.

#operhistory Gluck marks revolution in opera history w his renewed sense of drama & its relation to musical expression.

#operahistory Gluck spends youth in Prague, greatly influenced by Italian operas performed there: Vivaldi, Lolli, Albinoni.

#operahistory Gluck is recognized as the great reformer of Italian opera seria as well as French tragedies lyriques.

SUPP Hear Andreas Scholl sing “Pallido il sole” from Artaserse, Gluck. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-G74Ma4gHQ

#operahistory 1741-42 Gluck’s 1st 3 operas, Artaserse, Demetrio & Demofoonte are all based on Metastasio libretti.

#operahistory 1743 Hasse premieres Antigono, another Metastasio setting. Arias are very grand, lots of vocal fireworks.

SUPP Aria from Antigono, sung by Antje Bitterlich, “Berenice, che fai?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg7hPfjBulc

#operahistory 1745 Thru Cardinal Richelieu, Voltaire & Rameau collaborate in La Princesse de Navarre, comedie-ballet @ Versailles.

#operahistory La Princesse celebrates wedding of Dauphin Louis & Maria Teresa of Spain.

#operahistory 1745 Rameau’s Platee premieres, Versailles. Another comedie-ballet, in fact creating a new genre.

SUPP Les musiciens de Louvre have a field day w Platee! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5kLMplfozc&feature=related

#operahistory 1746 Jommelli’s Didone Abbandonata, Metastasio lib, premieres, Rome. Writes 3 versions. Did he ever get it right?

#operahistory 1750 Attilio Regolo, Dresden by Hasse, another Metastasio lib, an exquisite marriage of Metastasio’s texts, Hasse’s music.

SUPP Hear Sibylla Rubens sing “Sì, lo confesso” from Attilio Regolo.

#operahistory 1752, Le Devin du Village by Jean-Jacques Rousseau premieres at the Fontainebleau Court Theatre. An intermède.

#operahistory So besides helping to birth the Age of Reason, the guy was a composer AND a librettist. Who knew?

#operahistory Rousseau’s intermède was written to support those in France who championed the Italian style of opera vs. French.

#operahistory Le Devin had great success, showing how quickly the opéra-comique genre continued to spread. Inspired many parodies.

SUPP An aria from Le Devin by Rousseau, “J’ai perdu tout mon Bonheur”.

#operahistory 1754 Il filosofo di campagna, Baldassare Galuppi, Venice. Galuppi’s most popular score, a great e.f. of opera buffa.

SUPP Ensemble from Il filosofo di campagna, “Son pien di giubilo”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUXsReiPMTY

#operahistory 1760, Cecchina or La buona figliuola, Piccinni, Rome, another great opera buffa, huge success & infl local culture.

#operahistory Carlo Goldoni is librettist for Cecchina, the greatest 18th c. Italian playwright & the pride of Venice.

#operahistory Do a Google search for restaurants named La Cecchina. This opera was amazingly influential until late 19th c.

SUPP See a duet from La Cecchina w Mirella Freni, Werner Hollweg.

#operahistory 1762 Orfeo ed Euridice, Gluck, Vienna, Burgtheater, lib by Calzabigi. This became one of the great partnerships in opera.

#operahistory Gluck sees 18th c. opera as being in need of reform, excessive vocally, no connection w text. Mtg Calzabigi changes this.

#operahistory Ranieri Calzabigi stripped his poetry of the metaphorical language of Metastasio, offering a more direct line>emotions.

#operahistory Gluck’s Orfeo includes simpler melodies, unified approach, aria & recit more artfully combined, constant sense of flow.

SUPP Danielle de Niese sings “Che fiero momento” from Orfeo ed Euridice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO2FDgyoA7c

SUPP Stephanie Blythe sings “Che faro senza Euridice?” from Orfeo ed Euridice .

#operahistory Empress Maria Theresa so impressed w OeE, she gives Calzabigi a diamond ring, Gluck gets 100 ducats. Wow.

#operahistory 1763, Orione, J.C. Bach, London. Bach’s first London opera after success in Italy. Son=Johann Sebastian, Anna Magdalena

#operahistory 1764 Leopold Mozart introduces son, Wolfgang, to J.C. Bach, London, at age 8 studies w Bach & is greatly influenced.

#operahistory Bach’s use of clarinets in opera a first in London. The composer is patronized by Queen Charlotte (Geo. III).

SUPP Hear Philippe Jaroussky sing “Frá l’orror” from J.C. Bach’s Carattaco. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If95os01u6U

#operahistory 1767, Apollo et Hyacinthus, Mozart, Salzburg Univ. Actually a string of intermedii, not true opera, by the 11 yr old.

#operahistory 1767 Alceste, Gluck, Vienna, Burgtheater, another collaboration w Calzabigi; Gluck>return to Camerata principles.

#operahistory To Gluck, music must serve the poetry, an idea quite foreign to contemporary Italian practice: voice, voice, voice!

#operahistory Gluck banishes excessive vocal embellishments and all repetition, i.e. all things which stunt dramatic truth & growth.

#operahistory Like Orfeo and the Iphigenia operas, Gluck later revised Alceste for the French ‘market’ 20 yrs later.

SUPP Scene from Alceste (Fr), Paul Groves, Anne Sofie von Otter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKIeckCpK_A

#operahistory 1768, Le Huron, André Grétry, Comédie-Italienne, Paris; composer wanted lib from Voltaire, had to settle for a short story.

#operahistory 1768, Lo speziale, Franz Joseph Haydn, Eszterhazy, Goldoni libretto. Haydn under influence of Gluck.

#operahistory 1768, Bastien und Bastienne, W.A. Mozart, Vienna, parody of Rousseau’s Le Devin du Village. 12 yr old composer. Lord.

#operahistory B&B is a singspiel, essentially a play w music. First performed in the home of Dr. Mesmer, mesmerism, hypnotism.

SUPP Excerpts from Bastien und Bastienne http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTBMV85vlPg

#operahistory 1769, La finta semplice, Mozart, Salzburg, Goldoni libretto, 13 yr old composer, not stunning but promising!

SUPP Excerpt from La finta semplice, Mozart from the Salzburg festival.

#operahistory 1770, Mitridate Re di Ponto, Milan, Teatro Regio Ducale, Mozart. Now he’s 14. What did you do when you were 14?

#operahistory 1771, Ascanio in Alba, Milan Teatro Regio Ducale, Mozart. Mitridate well received, so Ascanio is commissioned immediately.

SUPP Diana Damrau sings “Dal tuo gentil sembiante” from Ascanio.

SUPP Gösta Winbergh sings “Se di lauri il crine adorno” from Mitridate.

#operahistory 1772, Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione based on minor libretto of Metastasio, a minor work of the 15 yr old composer.

#operahistory Mozart’s Scipione written to celebrate accession of Hieronymus von Colloredo as Archbishop of Salzburg.

#operahistory Colloredo is now generally hated as the guy who literally kicked Mozart out of his service for insubordination/ingratitude.

#operahistory Can’t say I entirely blame Colloredo for bad relationship w Mozart, but visited his tomb in Salz to make sure he’s dead.

#operahistory 1772, Lucio Silla, opera seria, 3 acts by Mozart, one hit after another with this kid, has last for Italy, Milan, Teatro Ducale.

#operahistory, 1772/3, Mozart stays in Milan hoping for steady work based on success of Lucio, but L was NOT successful, hence no work.

SUPP Gruberova "Ah, se il crudel periglio" from Lucio Silla, amazing performance! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XlTsjXLwI4

#operahistory 1774, Iphigénie en Aulide, Gluck, Paris, based on Racine play, a very controversial, robust success in its time.

#operahistory Iphigénie a landmark in Gluck’s mission to reform opera, a near-perfect merging of text/music, admired by Moz, Wagner

#operahistory Marie Antoinette: “it is incredible how many artuments & disputes are raging, as if it were some religious controversy”.

SUPP Violeta Urmana sings “Adieu, conservez dans notre ame” from Iphigénie

#operahistory 1775, La finta giardiniera, Mozart, Munich Hoftheater. This kid won’t quit. He’s now 18, the little show-off!

#operahistory La finta is an opera buffa, libretto by Calzabigi. Mozart attempts joining comic/serious elements, interesting experiment.

SUPP Excerpts (literally!) from Finta at Estates Theatre, Prague http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs6EuFIB9_U&feature=related

#operahistory 1775, Il re pastore, Mozart, Salzburg, lib by Metastasio. Written for visit of Archduke Max. Franz, son of Emperor.

#operahistory 1777, Il mondo della luna, Franz J. Haydn, Esterhaza, Haydn’s first opera after the estab of the court opera theatre.

#operahistory We don’t often think of Haydn as opera composer, but he wrote about 25 of them, most for the court at Esterhaza.

#operahistory Charming music in Haydn’s Il mondo, which reflects his interest in popular idioms of the time and folk music.

#operahistory 1777, Armide, Gluck, Paris. The composer continues his reforms daring to set Quinault libretto that gave Lully such success.

#operahistory Gluck’s Armide is a real thumb-nosing @ Italian opera & his enemies invite Piccinni to Paris in order to challenge him.

#operahistory Let’s stop for a moment. Paris such a hotbed of argument pro/con opera? Why can’t we still be that passionate about opera?

SUPP Mireille Dunsch sings “Ah si la liberté” from Gluck’s Armide. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg1LAQbKRfM

#operahistory 1778, Europa riconosciuta, Salieri, Milan, La Scala. First production for the Milan opera house, under Austrian control.

#operahistory Europa riconosciuta re-opened La Scala after nearly 3 yrs of renovation in 2004 under Muti; showed of tech advances in ’78.

SUPP Diana Damrau sings “Ah lo sento” from Salieri’s Europa riconosciuta, Milan, ’04.

#operahistory 1779, Iphigénie en Tauride, Gluck, Paris, after Euripides. His towering achievement w libretto by Nicolas Guillard.

#operahistory Gluck perfectly achieves the simplicity and directness that he’s been striving for in his career, and silences Piccinni.

SUPP Mireille Dunsch sings “O malheureuse Iphigénie” from Iphigénie en Tauride

#operahistory 1779, Zaïde, Mozart, never finished/performed, but has a most gorgeous aria, “Ruhe sanft”. A ‘rescue’ opera like Fidelio.

SUPP Mojca Erdmann sings “Ruhe sanft” from Zaïde, Mozart; Salzburg Festival ’06.

#operahistory 1781, Idomeneo, Re di Creta, Mozart, Munich, Hoftheater. Mozart’s first ‘mature’ work, an astonishing creation.

#operahistory Idomeneo written for the Italian opera-loving court in Munich to libretto by Varesco, after the Trojan legend.

#operahistory One feels the tug of Gluck’s ‘reforms’ in Idomeneo, with its incredibly dramatic recitatives and simple, direct music.

#operahistory Interesting note, the original tenor couldn’t handle the original “Fuor del mar”, so Moz wrote an easier version for him.

SUPP Tenor Ramon Vargas sings original “Fuor del mar” from Idomeneo, flawlessly!

#operahistory 1781, La serva padrona, Paisiello, St. Petersburg; what’s a good Italian doing Russia? M. di capella/Catherine the Great.

#operahistory Paisiello’s comedy is based on the same libretto as that done by Pergolesi fifty years before, not nearly as successfully.

#operahistory 1782, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Mozart, Vienna, Burgtheater, a real coup for the new Viennese citizen-composer.

#operahistory Entführung a great success w 20 performances in Vienna, and many more outside Vienna during M’s lifetime.

#operahistory Entführung a singspiel with comic, serious and tragic elements w added dimension of ‘Oriental’ (Turkish) color.

SUPP Entführung Overture w obvious ‘Turkish’ elements, Cto Köln, Ehrhardt cond. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG_InYlp1Es

SUPP Christiane-Eda Pierre sings “Marten aller arten” from Entführung.

#operahistory 1782, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Paisiello, St. Petersburg, from Beaumarchais, but w/out the wit & energy Rossini later brings.

#operahistory 1784, Armida, Haydn, Esterhaza, another classical composer is influenced by Gluck’s ‘reforms’ of opera seria.

#operahistory 1784, Les Danaïdes, Salieri, Paris, a major work of another composer influenced by Gluck, who gave ample support.

#operahistory Danaïdes was one of the most successful, important operas of the time; Berlioz credits it for turning him to music career.

#operahistory 1784, Richard Coeur de Lion, Grétry, Paris, and opéra comique with spoken dialogue, an outstanding e.g. of the form.

SUPP Michel Trempont sings “O Richard, ô mon roi” from Grétry’s Richard.

#operahistory 1785, La grotta di Trofonio, Salieri, Vienna, a great triumph for this composer, w an extraordinary overture.

SUPP Rousset conducts Trofonio overture w Les Talens Lyriques. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfVIwWc8zH8

#operahistory 1786, Oedipe à Colone, Antonio Sacchini, Versailles; composer was under patronage of Marie Antoinette herself.

#operahistory King/Queen both attended premiere of Oedipe, Sacchini hoped for Paris Opera production, but was squelched by politics.

#operahistory Poor Sacchini, done in by jealous enemies, dies, then the Opéra performs Oedipe a yr later to great success. Heavy sigh.

SUPP Instrumental, ballet music from Oedipe, Sacchini, Antonio Florio cond.

#operahistory 1786, Der Schauspieldirektor, Mozart, Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna written on commission from Joseph II.

#operahistory 1786, Prima la musica e poi le parole¸ Schönbrunn, Salieri, also comm. from Jos. II to honor Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen.

#operahistory 1786, Le nozze di Figaro, Vienna, Burgtheater, Mozart, master’s 1st partnership w Lorenzo da Ponte.

#operahistory, Figaro based on Beaumarchais play, itself only a couple of yrs old. Da Ponte provided a brilliant libretto full of satire.

#operahistory Figaro is a biting & funny work, pitting social classes vs. each other. What Da Ponte doesn’t comment on Moz does!

#operahistory Figaro is full of 3-dimensional characters who feel, fight, love, lust, weep & laugh. M’s music limns every emotion/thought.

#operahistory Moz’s opera is wildly successful, so much so that Jos II has to forbid encores so that the evening didn’t get too long.
#operahistory Might the emperor have been wary of political demonstrations as well? His sis was, after all, Marie Antoinette!

#operahistory Figaro is too well known & for many of us the original power is lost due to overexposure. Listen to it w “new ears”!

#operahistory Do you hear the loneliness in “Porgi amor”? The anger as well as the sheer sexual lust in “Hai già vinta la causa”? LISTEN!

#operahistory Do you hear the teasing in “Deh vieni”, an almost pornographic illustration of Susanna’s sly pretense? LISTEN!

#operahistory Figaro is a high mark in 18th c opera, only to be surpassed, perhaps, by Don Giovanni and, yes, Così.

SUPP Carol Vaness sings “Porgi amor”, Figaro

SUPP Gerald Finlay sings “Hai già vinta la causa”, Figaro http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViHnb6bzUWc

SUPP Miah Persson sings “Deh vieni non tardar”, Figaro

#operahistory 1787, Tarare, Salieri, Paris. What happens to an opera appearing between Figaro and Giovanni? It disappears.

#operahistory One hates to be dismissive of Salieri who after all was a fine composer in his own right, but Moz’s works tower overall.

#operahistory 1787, Don Giovanni, Mozart, Tyl Theatre, Prague, on commission from the theatre, result of Figaro’s success earlier.

#operahistory DG is without question one of the handful of “greatest” operas for its characterizations and sublime music.

#operahistory Da Ponte based his original libretto on one by Bertati for a 1-act opera set by Gazzaniga, following the basic structure.

#operahistory Casanova, friend of Da Ponte, in the audience for DG in Prague. Wonder how much of opera is reflective of his life/loves?

#operahistory Like Dr. Faust, Giovanni/Don Juan a popular folk character, especially in puppet plays. DG becomes a very popular hit!

#operahistory Mozart’s music is again seductive, powerful, tender and always consistent w the mood, atmosphere & feelings of characters.

#operahistory DG especially captures the imagination of the 19th c. Romantics, pointing to it as a harbinger of their movement.

SUPP Kiri Te Kanawa performs “Ah chi mi dice mai” from Giovanni.

SUPP Stuart Burrows & Makvala Kasrashvili, “Or sai chi l’onore”, Giovanni.

SUPP Hampson/Bayrakdarian “La ci darem la mano”, Giovanni

#operahistory 1788 La molinara, Giovanni Paisiello, Naples. As L’amor contrastato this becomes one of P’s most popular works.

#operahistory 1789, Nina o La pazza per amore, Paisiello, Naples; another hit for P, who is in demand all over Europe, esp. Vienna.

#operahistory 1789, Cleopatra, Cimarosa, St. Petersburg, written during composer’s 3 year stay in Russia.

#operahistory 1790, Così fan tutte, Mozart, Vienna, another masterwork from M and Da Ponte, completely original libretto.

#operahistory Così seems to have been written entirely in month of Dec, 1789. Haydn hears private perf, New Year’s Eve, 1789.

#operahistory Così only has 5 performances but well received before death of Emperor Joseph II & closing of all theatres for mourning.

#operahistory Così based on Italian comedy models but with humanizing & characteristic music that enlivens ambiguity of human actions.

SUPP: “Soave sia il vento”, trio from Cosi, the most sublime music!

SUPP: Topi Lehtipuu sings “Un aura amorosa”, Ferrando’s aria from Così.

SUPP: Dorabella/Guglielmo duet, “Il core vi dono”, Così

SUPP: Miah Persson sings “Per pieta” from Così.

#operahistory 1791, La clemenza di Tito, Mozart, Prague, commissioned for coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia, ergo Prague

#operahistory Tito Mozart’s first opera seria in sometime, since Idomeneo, w libretto by Metastasio (1734) w changes by Mazzolà

#operahistory Mozart had a tough time w the libretto of Tito; opera had changed a lot under his hands since Metastasio’s time.

#operahistory Mozart had 4 wks to complete Tito, so pupil F.X. Süssmayr completes the recitatives (also completed Requiem).
SUPP: Susan Graham sings “Parto, parto” from Tito.

SUPP: Dorothea Röschmann sings “Deh se piacer mi vuoi” from Tito

#operahistory 1791, Die Zauberflöte, Mozart, Vienna, Theater an der Wieden, greatest singspiel ever written, libretto/Schikaneder

#operahistory Zauber comm by Schikaneder for his theatre; he was well known comic/classical actor & plays Papageno @ premiere

#operahistory Zauber, w its Egyptian symbology, celebrates Freemasonry of which Moz & Schikaneder were members in Vienna.

#operahistory Score of Z includes different genres, comic to opera seria, reflecting universality of themes; very popular, 100+ perfs.

SUPP: Piotr Beczala sings “Dies bildnis” from Zauberflöte

SUPP: Anton Scharinger sings “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja”, Zauberflöte

SUPP: Natalie Dessay sings “Der Hölle rache” from Zauberflöte

SUPP: Malin Hartelius sings “Ach ich fühls”, Zauberflöte http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q49VWQZDIIw

#operahistory 1791 Mozart dies within a month after the premiere of Die Zauberflöte. RIP.

#operahistory 1794, Le astuzie femminili, Cimarosa, Naples, delightful score, originally written for Vienna.

#operahistory 1796, Lodoïska, Venice, Johann Simone Mayr. Important because Mayr later becomes teacher of Donizetti in Bergamo.

#operahistory 1797, Medea, Paris, Théâtre Feydeau, Luigi Cherubini, his most successful opera, 1st perf in French, w spoken dialog.

#operahistory Medea foretells tragic 19th c. opera w its all-encompassing darkness & dramatic energy. Not popular in its time.

#operahistory 1797, Paris, Médée, Luigi Cherubini, originally had spoken dialogue, a very atmospheric tragedy revived for Callas, ’52.

#operahistory 1800, Paris, Les Deux Journées, Cherubini, met w greater success than Médée, 200 perfs, infl. Beethoven’s Fidelio

#operahistory 1801, Trieste, Ginevra di Scozia, Giovanni Simone Mayr, eventual teacher of Donizetti, based in Bergamo.

#operhistory 1804, Dresden, Leonora, Ferdinand Paër, same subject as Fidelio, premieres just a few mos. Before Beethoven’s 1st version.

#operahistory 1805, Vienna, Fidelio, Beethoven, Theater an der Wien, 1st version, revised & perf. @ Kärntnertor Theatre, 1814

#operhistory Fidelio is in the then popular style of a French ‘rescue-opera’, a la Les Deux Journées, first staged during French occupation.

#operahistory Because of bad timing & dramaturgical problems, original Fidelio unsuccessful; the revision was better received.

#operhistory Fidelio still gets demerits for static story, needs great creative team to ‘make it work’, tough vocal/musical demands.

SUPP “Mir ist so wunderbar”, exquisite quartet from Fidelio. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkB7MUT_0Dw

SUPP “Abscheulicher”, Leonora’s aria, Fidelio, Karita Mattila.

SUPP “Gott! Welch dunkel hier!”, Florestan’s aria, Act II, Fidelio, Jonas Kaufmann.

#operahistory 1807, Paris Opéra, La vestale, Gaspare Spontini, this opera was a kind of reaction vs. more Romantic efforts, more classic

#operahistory 1809, Paris Opéra, Fernand Cortez, Spontini, commissioned by Napoleon, but eventually banned for political reasons (!)

#operahistory 1810, Venice, La cambiale di matrimonio, Gioacchino Rossini, composer was 18, well received opera buffa.

#operahistory 1811, Munich, Abu Hassan, Carl Maria von Weber, from Arabian Nights, a singspiel w exotic overtones, ‘Orientalism’
SUPP Overture to Abu Hassan, Weber. A taste of the exotic style.

#operahistory 1812, Milan (La Scala), La pietra del paragone, Rossini, has 50 performances & is considered a great success.

#operahistory 1813, Venice, Il Signor Bruschino, Rossini, not a very strong libretto, but delightful music.

#operahistory 1813, Venice (La Fenice), Tancredi, Rossini, after Voltaire & Tasso, 1st production failed, but a quick revision triumphed

#operahistory Tancredi is a watermark in Rossini’s career, 1st grand opera seria, & is 1st work to establish composer.

SUPP “Di tanti palpiti”, Tancredi, Marilyn Horne. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt5m_qFd2DI&feature=related

#operahistory 1813, Venice (S. Benedetto), L’Italiana in Algeri, Rossini, @ 1st perf almost all numbers encored, Rossini adulated.

#operahistory L’Italiana a comic triumph w interesting characters & witty situations in face of real danger.

SUPP “Cruda sorte” from L’Italiana, Stephanie Blythe.

#operahistory 1814, Milan (Scala) Il Turco in Italia, Rossini, not as great a success as L’Italiana, but now considered a masterpiece.

#operahistory 1816, Rome (Teatro Argentina), Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rossini, one of the great buffe ever written, from Beaumarchais

#operahistory Barbiere has many moments of ‘borrowed’ music from R’s own earlier scores, but still written in less than 20 days!

#operahistory Paisiello had written a Barbiere some years before, asked elder composer’s ‘permission’, but still a controversial choice

#operahistory Rossini’s score brilliantly orchestrated, virtually flies with invention & melody, never stands still, constant activity

#operahistory Barbiere becomes the standard vs. which all operatic comedies must be measured.

SUPP “Largo al factotum”, Figaro’s aria, Barbiere, John Rawnsley.

SUPP “Una voce poco fa”, Rosina’s aria, Barbiere, Vesselina Kasarova.

SUPP “Ecco ridente”, Almaviva’s aria, Barbiere, Juan Diego Florez.

#operahistory 1816, Berlin, Undine, E.T.A. Hoffmann, yes the author of the ‘tales’ was also a composer & Undine was huge success.

#operahistory Undine has all the magical elements that German audiences wanted at the time, foreshadows Der Freischütz.

#operahistory 1816, Naples, Otello, Rossini, has little to do w Shakespeare original, but has lovely music. Colbran the 1st Desdemona.

#operahistory 1817, Rome, La cenerentola, Rossini (r u getting the idea that Rossini was a VERY busy guy?), based on Cinderella.

#operahistory Cenerentola more an opera buffa than a fairy-tale, in fact there’s no magic slipper, but a bracelet, & no fairy godmother.

#operahistory 1817, Milan (Scala) La gazza ladra, Rossini. Just because.

#operahistory 1818, Naples (S. Carlo), Mosé in Egitto, Rossini; called an azione tragico-sacra, probably because performed during Lent.

#operahistory Mosé becomes a model for Verdi’s Nabucco (1842), is revised later for Paris as Moïse et Pharaon, 1827. Oratorio-like.

#operahistory Mosé contains brilliant music & is still given in both Italian & French versions, wonderful e.g. of Rossini’s opere serie.

#operahistory 1819, Naples (S. Carlo), Apoteosi di Ercole, Saverio Mercadante, his 1st opera, for a royal b’day, enthusiastically received.

#operahistory 1819, Naples (S. Carlo), La donna del lago, Rossini, from Walter Scott, written for Isabella Colbran, superstar singer.

#operahistory 1821, Berlin, Der Freischütz, Carl Maria von Weber, a landmark Romantic opera, deals w power of nature & supernatural.

#operhistory Freischütz ‘Wolf’s Glen’ scene frightened contemporary audiences musically & theatrically, kind of Gothic horror.

#operahistory unfortunately, the only halfway decent youtube vid of the ‘Wolf’s Glen’ is just too bizarre to send. U r on ur own!

#operahistory 1822, Naples, Zelmira, Rossini, his last opera for Teatro San Carlo, written to attract productions elsewhere, i.e. Vienna.

#operahistory 1823, Venice, Semiramide, Rossini, his last opera for Italy, a brilliant opera seria, did better in revival than at il primo.

#operahistory Semiramide is a triumphant score rich in vocal challenges. Libretto by Gaetano Rossi after Voltaire’s Sémiramis.

#operahistory Title role of Semiramide written for Isabella Colbran, Rossini’s wife whom he married the year before.

#operahistory Semiramide synthesized drama, music for voice and large structural forms for this sweeping work which points to Wm. Tell.

SUPP: “Serbami ognor si fido”, Anderson & Horne, Semiramide, Met Production. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9ew-_dznIg&feature=related

SUPP: “Bel raggio lusinghier”, June Anderson, Semiramide, Met.

#operahistory 1823, Cassel, Jessonda, Ludwig Spohr, composer’s greatest success & is still perf in Germany, no spoken dialog.

#operahistory1823, Vienna, Kärtnertor Theater, Euryanthe, Weber, another attempt at German opera w no spoken dialog, true grand op.

#operahistory Weber’s use of chromaticism & motif in Euryanthe furthers the art of opera & influences Marschner, Liszt, Wagner.

#operahistory Euryanthe has a sprawling libretto, perhaps it’s weakest link, but musically is a landmark in the development of opera.

SUPP: “Hin nimm die Seele mein”, duet, Act III, Euryanthe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjJyXxfh4z8&feature=related

#operahistory 1825, Paris (Feydeau), La Dame Blanche, François Boïeldieu, announced the arrival of opéra-comique as a genre in Fr. op.

#operahistory La Dame Blanche based on novels by Walter Scott, reflecting public’s interesting in all things Scottish & fantastic.

#operahistory LDB becomes a staple of the Opéra-Comique Theatre in Paris, reaching 1,000 perfs in 1862, enormously popular in Paris.
SUPP: hear aria from La Dame Blanche, “Viens, gentille dame”, Nicolai Gedda.

#operahistory 1825, Naples, Adelson e Salvini, 1st opera by Vincenzo Bellini, greatest of Italian bel canto composers (editorial comment!)

#operahistory 1826, London, Covent Garden, Oberon, Weber, commissioned by London based on success of Freischütz.

#operahistory Weber had tough time w the singers in London for Oberon, having to make many last minute changes, public success, though.

#operahistory Oberon, unlike Euryanthe but like Freischütz, is a singspiel w spoken dialog, a Germ tradition that was hard to break.

SUPP: “Ozean, du ungeheurer” from Oberon, Birgit Nilsson, 1972. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7Rblx2mfAs&feature=related

#operahistory 1826, Naples, Bianca e Gernando, Bellini. You’ll more likely find it as B e Fernando, but censor insisted on changing it.

#operahistory Donizetti, another bel canto ‘god’ was in attendance at the premiere of Bianca: “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!”

#operahistory Bianca e Fernando shows all the hallmarks of Bellini’s work, emphasis on melodic invention, the voice, simple accomp.

SUPP: Juan Diego Florez sings aria from Bianca

#operahistory 1826, Paris, Le Siège de Corinthe, Rossini, a re-working of Maometto II & much more successful theatrically, musically.

SUPP: Samuel Ramey & chorus sing “La gloire et fortune”, Le Siège de Corinthe.

#operahistory 1827, Milan, La Scala, Il pirata, Bellini, 1st collaboration with Felice Romani, librettist. Triumphant success.

#operahistory Bellini’s tenor was Giovanni Rubini whose ability helped usher in the era of the Italian Romantic hero w this opera.

SUPP: Cavatina, “Nel furor”, Act I, Salvatore Fisichella. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCd7cX2cDlw

SUPP: Callas sings “Col sorriso d’innocenza” from Pirata. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw9TkDxBEkg

#operahistory 1828, Paris Opéra, La Muette de Portici, Daniel Auber, the opera that initiated the French Grand Opera genre, huge hit!

#operahistory La Muette performed 500 times between 1828-1880, Auber’s most famous opera, actually led to revolution in Belgium, 1830

#operahistory Ensemble that incited the Belgian riot & eventual estab. of the Belgian state was the duet “Amour sacré de la Patrie”

#operahistory Libretto of Muette by Eugène Scribe, most important Fr. lib of 19th c., especially for opéra comique form.

#operahistory Main character of Muette is, indeed, mute & often performed by a mime or dancer. Work greatly infl. Wagner & others.

#operahistory Vesuvius erupts at end of Muette, lots of special effects/spectacle called for, which set the scene for later Fr. Grd. Op, etc.

SUPP: Yves Saelens sings “Du pauvre seul ami fidèle” from La Muette de Portici.

SUPP: “Amour sacré de la Patrie”, duet, La Muette de Portici, Kraus/Lafont

#operahistory 1828, Leipzig, Der Vampyr, Heinrich Marschner, not at all what you think; based on story by Polidori, popular in its time.

#operahistory 1829, Paris Opéra, Le Comte Ory, Rossini, melodramma giocosa, mistaken identities, disguises & the like, lib: Scribe.

#operahistory There is some brilliant music in Ory that makes it one of Rossini’s best scores, but not as outwardly funny as Barbiere.

#operahistory 1829, Milan, La Scala, La straniera, Bellini, on commission for Scala, libretto by Felice Romani; true bel canto opera.

#operahistory Straniera has all of the lyrical and atmospheric qualities that one associates with Bellini and bel canto, libretto weak though.

SUPP: “Entrance scene” from Straniera, Fleming/Kunde, hallmark of bel canto

#operahistory 1829, Paris Opéra, Guillaume Tell, Rossini, the master’s last opera, a sprawling epic in the French Grand Opera trad.

#operahistory Rossini sought a completely new style in Tell, not at all like the older Barbiere, Semiramide or Ory.

#operahistory Tell was a disaster, not understood by the audience but well regarded by fellow composers Bellini, Donizetti, Berlioz.

SUPP: “Sombre forêt” from Guillaume Tell, Hasmik Papian.

SUPP: “Sois immobile” from Guillaume Tell, Thos. Hampson

operahistory# 1830, Paris, Opéra Comique, Fra Diavolo¸ Auber, libretto by Scribe. Charming score, under infl of Rossini.

Operahistory# Diavolo was 1 of the most popular operas of the 19th c., w 900 perfs before 1900 in Paris alone. Still occasionally perf in Fr.

SUPP: Janet Parry sings Zerlina’s aria from Fra Diavolo. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M94dFDWCx8s

Operahistory# 1830, Venice, La Fenice, I Capuletti e I Montecchi, Bellini, one of his masterworks, & not based on Shakespeare’s R&J.

Operahistory# Capuletti was a triumph for Bellini, using a libretto by Romani which was used by a previous composer, Vaccai.

SUPP: Gruberova sings “O quante volte” from Capuletti http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJObX8rtTvE

Operahistory# 1830, Milan, Teatro Carcano, Anna Bolena, Donizetti, Romani libretto. Great success w Giuditta Pasta in role of Anna.

Operahistory# An especially lyrical opera, Bolena solidified Donizetti’s place among the masters, his 1st opera to tour beyond Italy.

SUPP: Callas sings “Al dolce guidami” from Bolena, 1959. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdOcLjhYfZM

SUPP: Carlo Colombara & Sonia Ganassi sing “Anna pure amor m’offria” from Bolena http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM4-Wj8MNPg

Operahistory# 1831, Milan, Teatro Carcano, La sonnambula, Bellini, triumphant success & the perfect e.g. of 19th c. bel canto style.

Operahistory# Some make the mistake of associating bel canto with only long, lyrical lines & simple accompaniment. It’s so much more.

Operahistory# Bel canto was inextricably tied to poetic imagery in the text, composers bringing images to musical ‘life’.

Operahistory# Bellini’s Sonnambula brings poetic images to life in the most perfect way, heightening & pointing the text constantly.

SUPP: Netrebko sings “Ah non credea mirarti” from Sonnambula. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv41iLJwxSI

Operahistory# 1831, Paris Opéra, Robert le Diable, Giacomo Meyerbeer, libretto=Scribe. Meyerbeer’s 1st Paris opera, true Fr. grand-opéra.

Operahistory# Robert hugely successful, grand spectacle, dramatic confrontations, big choruses/orchestra, became typical of period.

SUPP: “Nonnes qui reposez” from Robert le Diable with Samuel Ramey. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1oxubzyLGo

SUPP: “Robert, toi que j’aime” from Robert le Diable with June Anderson.

operahistory# 1831, Milan, La Scala, Norma, Bellini, composer’s greatest op, milestone in opera history, approaches Gk tragedy.

Operahistory# Norma a great influence on Wagner. 1st night a fiasco, but then it took off, w Giuditta Pasta as Norma, great success in UK.

Operahistory# Norma is the quintessential It. tragic opera of bel canto period w passionate expression of a somber, dramatic text.

SUPP: Caballe sings “Casta diva” from Norma. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIQQv39dcNE

#operahistory Norma continues to fascinate, engage audiences but its vocal demands dictate=it's rarely done well. Seen a GOOD Norma?

#operahistory 1st audience/Norma disturbed by lack of choral finale to Act I; instead, Bellini gives us a trio! Brave thing to do in 1831

#operahistory Who is singing Norma well (really well!) today? Remember, not just floating hi notes, coloratura, but vocal weight & heft!

#operahistory 1832, Milan, T. della Cannobiana, L'elisir d'amore, Donizetti. Written in 14 days! Right up there w Barbiere & Pasquale.

#operahistory L'elisir brims with humor and the full sunshine of Italian lyricism. First production ran for 32 nights!

#operahistory Want to hear perfect, I mean perfect, bel canto singing? Listen Pavarotti DEFINE bel canto in the following supplement.

SUPP: Pavarotti, in prime, sings "Una furtiva lagrima", L'elisir http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Funp7JTWp2A

SUPP: Villazon, Netrebko, finale of Act I, L'elisir. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZRoDdmG06c

#operahistory 1833, Rome, Teatro Valle, Il Furioso all'isola di San Domingo, Donizetti, another rousing successful buffa, unperf. Today.

#operahistory 1833, Venice, La Fenice, Beatrice di Tenda, Bellini, lib= Romani, disastrous prima, Bellini blamed Romani, vice versa.

#operahistory Beatrice based on historical events, Bellini's 1st opera after Norma. Its failure ruined Bell/Romani relationship.

#operahistory Felice Romani had provided Bellini with I Capuletti, Il pirata, Straniera, Sonnambula, and Norma. Sad breakup.

#operahistory 1833, Milan, Lucrezia Borgia, Donizetti, lib by Romani, based on play by Hugo, also from 1833. Hugo not pleased: sues!

#operahistory It seems that Victor Hugo was just unhappy w the result of the libretto-ization of his play. Opera reset as La Rinnegata.

#operahistory But Lucrezia had trouble w censors throughout its perf history. The Borgias, of course, were close to the papal court.

#operahistory 1834, Naples, San Carlo, Maria Stuarda, Donizetti, lib by Bardari. 1st performed as Buondelmonte because of censorship.

#operahistory Maria Stuarda is a tremendous opera, w great bel canto melodies & a stunning confrontation sc between Mary/Elizabeth

SUPP Mariella Devia sings the final 'Preghiera' from Maria Stuarda http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_yAEtF7vRM

SUPP Devia/Pentcheva, confrontation scene, Maria Stuarda http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QYPdB0wv9I&feature=related

#operahistory 1835 Paris, Théâtre Italien, I Puritani, Bellini, lib. by Pepoli, composer’s last opera, w more attention/work than any other.

#operahistory Bellini wanted to make sure Puritani was ‘up to snuff’, considering it would be premiered in Rossini’s back yard.

#operahistory B lavished a great deal of time on Puritani, so much so that he died of exhaustion 8 months later!

#operahistory Puritani is a work of stunning lyric beauty & its demands are considerable. Almost no recitative, unusual for wk of its time.

SUPP Sutherland sings the mad scene from I Puritani , 1972 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPaoAGupQxQ

#operahistory Bellini wrote the role of Arturo for tenor Giovanni Rubini, noted for 1st taking high Cs from the chest; Art sings high F!!

SUPP: John Osborn sings “Credeasi misera” w High F from Puritani!

#operahistory 1835, Paris Opéra, La Juive, Jacques Fromental Halévy, lib by Scribe, composer’s masterpiece, epic Fr. grand opera

#operahistory La Juive is remarkable for its sensitive portrayal of Jews on an opera stage while elsewhere in Europe r still ghettoized.

#operahistory Halévy, himself a Jew, instills a slight but definitely ‘exotic’ flavor into the music of Eléazar, heard in his aria “Rachel…”

SUPP: Neil Shicoff sings “Rachel, quand du Seigneur” from La Juive.

#operahistory 1835, Naples, San Carlo, Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti, one of the great seminal works of the bel canto era, masterpiece.

#operahistory Lucia took Europe by storm & influenced many an imagination. Donizetti wrote it in 36 days; based on novel of Scott.

#operahistory Let’s reflect: interesting how stories of bloody Scotland & England and their political trials fascinated Italian composers!

#operahistory These ‘gothic’ operas were the horror movies of the era, where audiences could get their chills & thrills…think about it!
#operahistory In Lucia, various story elements add to the gothic horror, but also the addition of the ghostly glass harmonica in Mad Sc.

SUPP: Natalie Dessay sings central portion of Mad Scene w glass harmonica!

SUPP: Dessay sings end of Mad Scene from Lucia.

SUPP: classic perf of sextet from Lucia, w Sutherland, Gedda, Gobbi!

#operahistory 1836, Paris Opéra, Les Huguenots, Giacomo Meyerbeer, lib by Scribe, Fr. grand opera on a roll! Meyerbeer’s masterpiece.

#operahistory Interesting: big choral scene in middle of Act IV rather than at the end, w love duet following; break from tradition.

#operahistory Even Wagner, as much as he resented Meyerbeer, admired Act IV of LH for its stretching of trad operatic forms.

SUPP: Michael Spyres/Alexandra Deshorities sing “Tu m’aimes”, Act IV, LH

SUPP: Annick Massis sings “O beau pays” from Les Huguenots

#operahistory Ever seen a Meyerbeer opera? They’re long. REALLY long. Epic five act works based on history w casts of hundreds.

#operahistory 1836, Magdesburg, GER, Das Liebesverbot, Richard Wagner, his own lib. This is his 2nd, but 1st staged & performed opera.

#operahistory Liebesverbot loosely based on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. Opera had only 1 perf, a failure, unprepared singers.

#operahistory One good thing out of Liebesverbot’s failure: Wagner marries the soprano Minna Planer (altho that doesn’t last forever!)

#operahistory Liebesverbot has incipient leitmotifs, not as evolved as those in his later operas; one expresses the ‘ban on love’.

#operahistory Listen to the next supplement, the overture to Liebesverbot. The ‘ban on love’ motif occurs at :50-1:10, then developed.

#operahistory Use of the leitmotif SO obvious here, u can’t miss it! Brass choir in unison, duh. Wagner learns a lot before Tristan!

SUPP: Overture to Das Liebesverbot, Graz Opera. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO-hLHA-us0

#operahistory 1836, Paris, Comique, Le Postillon de Longjumeau, Adolphe Adam, his best & best known opera, classic opéra comique.

#operahistory 1836, Russia, St. Petersburg, Imperial Theatre, A Life for the Tsar, Mikhail Glinka, the “father” of Russian opera.

#operahistory After much travel in Ger, Switz & Italy, Glinka sought a unity of European & Russian styles, but moreso a national style.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Podcast Monday

On this week's Podcast, Dr. Nic goes back into the stacks to listen to Conchita Supervia who many consider as the best Carmen ever. What do you think? Take a listen to this week's podcast and let us know.


While You Were Out

Slow week in the world of Opera but the big news is the status of Washington National Opera and if they will merge with the Kennedy Center to ensure their financial future.

And we hope for better news next week.