Tag: Opera

1954, Movies

Carmen Jones (1954, Otto Preminger)

This is a weird one: a film of a Broadway musical based upon Bizet’s Carmen, but which has only been adapted in terms of plot, not in terms of the music (really). Why is that weird? Well, an all black cast, set in North Carolina and Chicago in the ’40s, and they’re singing…French opera.

2018, Music, Theatre

The Nightingale and Other Short Fables live at the Four Seasons Centre, May 13, 2018

Back in 2008 or 2009 or so, the Canadian Opera Company put on a radically different performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “3 act” opera The Nightingale, buttressed by additional pieces in order to actually make the runtime somewhat comparable to a normal opera. (The Nightingale runs less than an hour.) I don’t know who initially curated the selections …

1983, 1985, 1999, 2001, Music

Higglety Pigglety Pop!; Where the Wild Things Are (2001) by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Oliver Knussen, starring Cynthia Buchan, Lisa Saffer et al

This disc features both of Knussen’s “children’s operas,” based on books by Maurice Sendak.

1924, 1928, 1978, 1980, 1992

From the House of the Dead (1980) by Leos Janacek, performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker, Wiener Staatsopernchor conducted by Charles Mackerras featuring Jiri Zahradnicek, Ivo Zidek, Vaclav Zitek

This disc pairs Janacek’s last (and shortest?) opera with two unrelated chamber pieces performed by an entirely different orchestra, grumble.

1951, 2010, Music, TV

Billy Budd (2010, Francois Rousillon)

To some, Billy Budd was the greatest English-language opera ever written when it premiered, to a few its even the greatest English-language opera ever. (To those people I say, have you ever heard of John Adams? But anyway…) I did not love it when I first heard it, for any number of reasons, the biggest …

1790s, 2016, Music

A Little Too Cozy Live at Studio 42 at the CBC May 20, 2016

On Friday we saw a modernization of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, an opera I have never heard before. This adaptation sets the opera in a reality show where contestants are supposed to pledge their love to each other without actually meeting, similar to the original plot I assume. This is a bawdy one – I’m …

1923, 1952, 2005, Music

The Cunning Little Vixen (1952, 2005) by Leos Janacek, performed by Wiener Philarmoniker conducted by Charles Mackerras, featuring Lucia Popp, Eva Randovám, Dalibor Jedlička

This opera is considered by some to be Janacek’s greatest achievement and it’s easy to understand why. Though significantly lighter in tone than his other operas, it sounds more radical and more forward-thinking, musically. The use of the soprano as this bizarre little interruption (for lack of a better word) is really weird and I …

1921, 1925, 1926, 1977, 2006, Music

Káťa Kabanová; Cappriccio; Concertino (1977, 2006) by Leos Janacek, performed by Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Charles Mackerras featuring Elisabeth Söderström, Peter Dvorský, Naděžda Kniplová

This set pairs a Janacek opera with two of his chamber music pieces. It’s an odd pairing, but in the era of the CD it was a regular thing when an opera failed to fill out two discs. Káťa Kabanová is considered Janacek’s first “mature” opera but I think I like it less than Jenufa. …

1902, 1983, 2007

Jenůfa (1983, 2007) by Leoš Janáček, performed by Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras featuring Elisabeth Söderström, Wiesław Ochman, Peter Dvorsky, Eva Randová, Lucia Popp

This is an opera where it’s probably for the best I can’t understand the words, given that it’s about infanticide. The music is high Romantic, but infused with Janacek’s usual folk inspirations, including some idiosyncratic vocalizations and relative realism (realism is always relative in operas) – ‘realism’ such as the knocking on the door and …

1910, Music

Humperdinck: Königskinder (2012) by Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester, Chor der Oper Frankfurt, conducted by Sebastian Weigle et al

My initial impressions of Humperdinck were not great, even though I started with his most famous work. This one though, the opera version of a “melodrama” he wrote in 1897 (because the author of the original story wouldn’t consent to an opera), is really great. All the attempts at “big tunes” with the folk songs …

1893, Music

Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretal (2005) by Ileana Contrubas, Frederica Von Stade, Elisabeth Soderstrom, Ruth Elting, et al. and the Gurzenich Orchestra, Children’s Chorus of Cologne Opera, conducted by John Pritchard

Though it’s German, this opera reminds me a little too much of the “Big Tune” style of French opera prevalent at the time – music that was deliberately accessible, so that songs from the opera might get published separately and probably the source of more famous themes from operas than any other style. This is …

1888, 2005, 2015, Theatre

Julie by Philippe Boesmans and Luc Bondy, Live at the St. Lawrence Centre, November 19, 2015

This is a 2005 chamber opera based on the 1888 play Miss Julie by August Strindberg. I have never read Strindberg, and I don’t know if I’ve read much naturalist literature or drama, so this was a new experience for me. The staging and direction are fantastic – they’ve decided to stage the pay in …

1935, 2010, Music

Mathis der Maler [Opera Version] (2010) by Paul Hindemith, Performed by Dietrich Frischer-Dieskau, James King, Urzula Koszut, Rose Wagemann, William Cochran, Peter Meven, Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks conducted by Rafael Kubelik

This opera has a weird origin, it was a symphony that was expanded to be an opera. Anyway, The opera is massive (it’s 3 hours long, divided into 7 “tableaux”), and is generally regarded well because it’s an allegory for nazism. Not to be picky, but I feel like there are a number of better …

1935, 1957, 2012, Music

Simplicius Simplicissimus (2012) by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, performed by Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Choir, Juliane Banse, Petermarsch, Will Hartmann conducted by Markus Stenz

From the very opening bars it’s clear that this is no ordinary opera. And though that’s true of the most path-breaking and challenging operas of the early 20th century – I am thinking chiefly of Berg’s work – this one is perhaps more shocking given the (seemingly) more traditional stance of the composer.

1979, Music

Einstein on the Beach (1976, 1979) by Philip Glass

I am a very big fan of John Adams’ Nixon in China from pretty much the moment I heard it. It seemed impossible to me that two seemingly diametrically opposed styles of music could be merged s seamlessly. It’s safe to say it changed my (musical) life.

1972, Music

Lucia di Lammermoor (1972, 1999) by Gaetano Donizetti, performed by Sutherland, Pavarotti, Milnes, Chiarov, Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Convent Gardens conducted by Bonynge

So, as with any opera I have never heard before, I am stuck reviewing the opera more than the performance. I have no idea if this is a great performance of this opera, though I suspect it is, after all we have Sutherland and Pavarotti. The opera itself is a little over the top – …

1979, Music

Pelleas et Melisande (1979 EMI) by Claude Debussy, performed by Berliner Philharmonic, Von Stade, Stilwell, Denize, Van Dam, Raimondi, Von Karajan

Though I am growing in familiarity with late 19th / early 20th century “art” music, I am still not there yet. So it is very hard for me to judge something like this, Debussy’s only completed opera, especially as it relates to other performances of the same work. So forget about that part.

2000, 2012, Music

L’amour de loin by the Canadian Opera Company

I’m pretty sure I forgot to tell you that we went to a performance of Tosca a few weeks ago.  For me it was a real experience to see a Puccini, even one I didn’t know.  I know reviewers felt like the leads were a little wooden but having only seen a couple operas in …

Music

The Great Opera Hits by the Czech Symphony Orchestra, Prague Philharmonic Choir conducted by Julian Bigg (Great , unknown year)

The good thing about this compilation is, unlike so many others, its actually the same orchestra playing all the tunes. But, like so many “classical” compilations, this is music for people who like opera as a bunch of catchy songs, as opposed to what opera actually is. It’s catchy, but one is hardly going to …