Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stuck in an Expensive Rut?

I love surprises. I guess that's why I love the "all songs - random shuffle" feature of the iPod. However since some of the songs I have on there are entire acts (or more) of operas, it can be kind of dare I say, annoying, when, say, the next song is Acts 3&4 of Romeo et Juliette. On the other hand, it sort of forces you (unless you advance to the next track) to listen to something you might not ordinarily just listen to part of. Like for me, Romeo is such an emotional roller-coaster that I can't always just jump right into the middle. But today, no doubt due to my hormonal makeup, I immediately fell into the bittersweet tragic mood appropriate for the piece. Then later I watched some of the HD/PBS broadcast. Amazing how the music and the singing is so evocative.

On a related note, Johnny O, also known as John Osborn, recently sang Romeo at the Salzburg Festival in Austria and got rave reviews. I'd link to the review but I don't subscribe to the Opera Critic website. However, someone else does so I can paste the review here:

"On this evening, Roméo was sung by the American tenor John Osborn (Rolando Villazon otherwise scheduled for the remaining eight performances). Not only did the newcomer seem completely at ease with the production, but gave a performance which spontaneously brought him ovations from all parts of the house, including the orchestra. Osborn's background in Mozart and the bel canto repertoire form an ideal foundation for his undertaking in roles such as Roméo. His tone is full and appealing, his phrasing generous, and his attack immaculate - with a style and technique most reminiscent of Nicolai Gedda. Latin looks and a good stage presence complete the picture." The Opera critic, Aug 19, 2008

Yay Johnny, way to go!

Rumor has it that Mr. Osborn is back in Europe somewhere recording Clari for a DVD. Rumor also has it that he has not one but two CDs coming out very soon. I will, of course, post more rumors as they wend their way to me.

So to get back to Romeo, am I stuck in a rut of listening to the same operas over and over? Romeo, Barber, Marriage, Cosi, Carmen, Magic Flute, Traviata... I need to expand my opera horizons.

This season I'm going to two I've never seen before. Can't decide if I should read up and learn as much as I can about them beforehand or go in cold. Any thoughts or advice, Dear Readers?

Another thought was that I'd go see The Italian Girl in Algiers at Opera Philly. But tickets are so darn expensive. On the other hand, Lawrence Brownlee is in it and I'd love to see him perform live. But I'd also like to go with Husband which means doubling the price of the ticket since they probably wouldn't look favorably on me sitting on his lap. Plus a babysitter, and the prices have gone way up since I had my regular babysitting gigs in the early 80s.

I guess I just have to face it: I cannot afford to be an opera lover.

Hmm, maybe I can go alone to a matinee. Oh Husband...


Kaitebon said...

I think most people would reccommend reading up on the opera before seeing it. However, in my personal opinion, as long as you do not get lost following opera dialogue (the way some people get confused by Shakespeare if they don't already know what's going on), you may as well have the experience of learning the story as it unfolds. I watched Idomeneo without knowing anything, and it was very enjoyable, though I was not inspired to revisit it. I also watched Die Meistersinger (on DVD) without knowing anything about it, and I have since learned about it, etc. I also watched a bunch of Met HD performances with no background. The first people to listen to an opera didn't study! They just enjoyed.

That being said, if I'm going to pay Met Opera prices, I make sure it's an opera I knew I liked...

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy!

Lydia said...

I'd reccommend getting to know an oepra at least a little before you see it, but you can enjoy it just as much going in cold. Many libraries have opera videos, and in the case of my library at home, they are considered "education" videos, and therefore can be checked out for three weeks instead of three days. And since there's not much opportunity to watch live opera where I'm from, these were a great way for me to learn.

Enjoy! =)

Lilly said...

I'd suggest doing a little research on the opera before you see makes it a little more interesting sometimes to know the history of it.

Also, by all means go and see L'Italiana!!!!! You'll love it!