I've never attended an opera. I'm going to do so but I haven't chosen which one that will be, however, I want to avoid one that only seasoned opera fans would appreciate.
Which entry level, super-popular opera would you recommend for a newbie?
Europeras 1 and 2.
La Traviata or La Boheme.
You can't go wrong with Tosca, La Boheme, or Carmen. If you want a comedy, start with The Barber of Seville.
Carmen, hands-down. LOTS of hit tunes, structure more like a musical and all the gushing dramatic themes that make grand opera fun to attend.
La Boheme- most Puccini, actually.
Are you in NYC? if so, try and go to NYC Opera. They like shirtless guys.
Too late for Carmen. Of that list, Carmen would be best. Skip the next too (DEFINITELY skip Albert Herring) and go see The Marriage of Figaro. It's a lot of fun.
OP, it's too bad you missed Carmen. I agree, wait until Marriage of Figaro.
Thank you, r13, r14.
Marriage of Figaro, only choice.
indeed, Albert Herring is witty and can be well-done but Carmen or Figaro are mainstays probably with better casts and production values.
For all its virtues, Carmen is LONG. I'd go with Turandot or Tosca or Traviata.
Thanks to all who posted,too.
Are you going with a date, R14? If so, is he an opera fan?
Aida, the food opera.
No, r20. I'm going by myself. I'd prefer to do that.
La Traviata. The lighting at the Met is top notch. My favorite is when they replicate sunlight. Their scenery is chock full of decorating ideas for your own home. The bedroom scene in MOF has billowy white canopy and window treatments. Mesmerizing sets.
No question about it: The Marriage of Figaro. My favorite opera. The music is absolutely stellar.
Marriage of Figaro, most definitely. It would have been my recommendation for a "starter opera" even if it were not upcoming for you.
How about the opera used to introduce children to opera.......The Magic Flute
I'm no opera queen (that would've been my ex's best friend), but stay away from "The Girl in the Golden West"- why waste time reading surtitles of English-speaking American characters singing in Italian!
I despise the magic flute almost as much as the ballet, the nutcracker.
It really depends on what kind of music you like.
If you like Baroque music, see anything by Montiverde, Scarlotti, Purcell or Handel. If you like Classical music see anything by Mozart but especially Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte or Le Nozze di Figaro. Rossini's Barber of Seville and La Gazza Ladra can be fun. If you like Romantic and more modern music, which I do not, see anything by Verdi or Puccini.
Wagner is a special case. In the wrong hands (Seattle, Berlin, London and the Met, I'm talking about you) it's the elevator music of the opera world, but if you can see it at Bayreuth, go!
Rigoletto's not my favorite. But while I was at the Met HD broadcast of 'Les Troyens' this past Saturday, they showed a rehearsal for Rigoletto, coming up in February. They're setting this production in Las Vegas, complete with Rat Pack references. Looked like it might be fun and fairly approachable to someone new to opera.
Aida, especially if they use a live elephant for the procession scene. Saw it once when the elephant got spooked, and all the nelly half-naked spear-carriers freaked and ran offstage.
You should listen to hip hop, because otherwise you are just an eldergay and out of touch with real music!
OP, what is your taste, dear? Because just because something is an "opera" doesn't mean it's like everything else that is an opera.
Meaning do you like classical or romantic music? Does contemporary music turn you on or off? I'd suggest The Marriage of Figaro, but some people get antsy with the sense of flippancy and superficial polish they hear.
And I loathe "Carmen." But that's my taste.
Better yet, drive down to Chicago and see "La Boheme." THAT'S a good place to start.
WHY has no one mentioned "Madama Butterfly"? Un bel di, baby...
Puccini Opera Queen
I love CARMEN & TURANDOT
r33, you ask very good questions. I think, I'll know how to answer them after I've seen at least a few performances.
Try to find Léo Delibes' Lakmé. The Belle Song and Fleur Duet is universally loved. See the Youtube vids. It's set in India so the costumes are usually beaded works of art in themselves. The coloratura soprano lead role requires a voice that can closely mimic a bell. Voice control that takes decades to master. You know the Flower Duet from old British Airways ads and Bowie's The Hunger. It's a classic introduction work. Follow up with Mozart's Nightingale.
Porgy and Bess
OP, I wish you well in exploring a new genre and like the fact that you are willing to try out new things and expand your interests. I hope that, as someone suggested earlier, if you like it, you travel to Chicago for a performance. You seem to have an independent mind, willing and preferring to do things on your own.
R38 makes a good point. youtube stuff form the above mentioned works and see for yourself.
Always begin with your ABCs!
"The Ballad of Baby Doe" is a good place to begin.
You may consider starting with operetta. The Merry Widow, Paul Bunyan, or The Student Prince are fun.
Carmen, hands down.
My dad was really into opera, that was the first one he took me to because he knew it has the most 'hit' songs that you'll recognize. Plus, if you live in NYC, the Met usually makes the production very colorful & lively.
Trust me, you'll be whistling the tunes for a month afterwards.
Last night I watched both "Carmen" and "La Boheme" on youtube.
Now, I can't wait to attend a performance!
My mother was an opera nut. She took me to see Carmen when I was 3 (I was a good sitter as a child). I loved it and still have some memories (it was a local production in LA.
(BTW My mother taught me some old timey kiddie song version of the famous Toreador song--"To-ray-a dor-a, don't sit on the floor-a, Use the cuspidor-a, that's what it's for-a. Sort of like a song in a Marx Brothers movie.) I also saw Tosca at a young age and Madame Butterfly and loved them (especially when Tosca falls off a balcony--it's not a comedy, it's an ultra-melodrama). Also Hansel and Gretel (which is a kid's opera by Humperdinck, but it has really lovely music and is very charming).
I think you will love Marriage of Figaro. The music is breathtakingly beautiful. All Mozart operas have gorgeous music IMO. Rossini's comic operas (like Italian Girl in Algiers (Italiana in Algeria and Elixir of Love (L'Elisir d'Amore") are a lot of fun to watch and have really great music. Gianni Schicchi (sounds like Ski-Key) is a short opera and is often performed with another short opera. Very enjoyable and are frequently performed all over.
Have a great time!
Gianni Schicchi is by Puccini, not Rossini (of cawse!)
What about Madame Butterfly? Great story and music...
Some of you who want to send the OP to The Marriage of Figaro as his first opera are insane!
Without a doubt The Marriage of Figaro is an operatic masterpiece, but sending a novice, unexperienced person to a 4 hour opera is not good advice, no matter the great music. I would rather have him attend Albert Herring. Its a delightful story, and shorter, and its original language is English!
Carmen would have been a great choice but its too late.
Ethan, DLs resident opera lover
Anyone seen any interesting operas recently?
Yeah, R54, SF Opera put on Boito's "Mephistofele" in the fall. It's rarely performed because it's a great big incoherent mess, but it has some really glorious moments! Like when the angels in heaven sing like... angels in heaven.
NOT recommended for opera novices.
My first opera was at The Met when I was in college. A group of us went to see La Clemenza di Tito, one of Mozart's last operas, and it was interesting to see, but at 18, my fellow students and I were utterly lost. The libretto was impossible to follow in the low lighting and not speaking Italian, we had no way to follow the plot. The spectacle and the music were amazing, though. At one point a guy in our group fell asleep and an older lady in a gown and long gloves turned around and said "are you sure you belong here?". Utter snobbery of the highest order. We all did our best to fit in with the formality, but we still stuck out like sore thumbs, being grungy college students.
I now live upstate in a sleepy college town, and the local movie theater has a series showing operas from the Met in HD. I watched Carmen and it was great. Subtitles and close-ups, I really was able to follow the action and enjoy the music.
My only quibble with both operas were their length, 3+ hours is a whole long time to watch anything. My first opera was in my twenties and my second was in my forties, so I may be ready for one in my sixties again...
I agree with responses R2 and R3. That is all you really need to know based on your question OP.
Der Rosenkavlier is not a starter opera, but it is pure musical bliss to modern ears.
Have fun, but if you hate it, leave at intermission.
Nixon In China
In your enthusiasm R49 you also deny Donizetti his credit for 'L'Elisir d'amore', but what the hey, you sound fun.
(Listening to 'Die Frau Ohne Schatten' live from the ROH as I type.)
When I was much younger I went to the opera on a first dare with a guy I was crazy for. Did not matter what opera because it was magical night. I think you will enjoy any opera you choose.
How have you made it through to 2014 without seeing Oprah?
Opera Star Joyce DiDonato will perform the National Anthem tonight at the World Series!
I can assure you SHE will not forget the words.
Fly to NYC for "The Death of Klinghoffer"! I think there may be seats available.
I would not begin with Wagner. He can be long and heavy--an acquired taste (if at all).
I like some 20th century American opera--Barber's "Vanessa," some Menotti. Of course, my late, late partner (a snob of the first degree) always reminded me that I have middle-class tastes.
But he's been dead since 1987. Heigh-ho!
On Sundays I like to put a bit of culture into my life, so I put on a few Opera CDS.
The weather is so nice I have a speaker on the balcony.
So this morning while enjoying my breakfast, sun & opera tunes, my straight neighbour came out on his balcony and waved. A few minutes later I hear him on his cell saying ''OMG my neighbour is such a big homosexual, he's out here listening to opera and acting like he is Maria Antoinette hosting her royal court'' Then I could hear him laughing uncontrollably.
I'm very insulted, I'm always very pleasant to him, if I thinking of calling the cops to report this remark as a hate crime
[quote]he's out here listening to opera and acting like he is Maria Antoinette hosting her royal court'
Perhaps the powdered wig was a bit much for a Sunday morning.
What's wrong with Madam Butterfly?
[quote]What's wrong with Madam Butterfly?
She got a STD from Lt. Pinkerton.
The first opera I saw was Madame Butterfly, I wept like a baby.
I think MB, the Marriage of Figaro, La Boheme and Carmen are great starter operas.
I have a family member that performs so I have seen many but am just a lay person.
Turandot is one of my favorites. Nessun dorma always brings the house down.
Just go with Puccini. He is very accessible to the beginner.
No Tristan and Isolde.
I love Der Rosenkavalier! I also love La Cenerentola. When well done, it's remarkably funny. Both are good, light operas for beginners.
I need help Datalounge. Can anyone help me identify what song Barbara Hendricks is singing in a movie I don't know the title to. I was watching the ARTS channel and missed the title. I can only recall she is walking excitedly in a grove. She was dressed like a French/Italian country girl. There were a lot of yellow flowers in the back ground ,and at the end of the scene, she steps into a white carriage.
Recommended operas for newbies, in order:
1. La Traviata
3. Les Contes d'Hoffmann
It's not technically an opera (it's opera-bouffe), but Orphée aux enfers is great fun. You probably need to speak French though.
Always better to find out about the story in advance, and if possible have a listen to a few highlights - possibly read the libretto bits if you can.
It might be more enjoyable if you speak the language.
Maybe, if you only speak English, you should try Henry Purcell and his King Arthur. You may know the aria What Power Art Thou under the title "The Cold Song" (see youtube).
Good luck OP and report to us!
Another vote for Carmen. My first vote still goes to La Traviata, but Carmen has many, many enjoyable moments.
OP, R43 has it, long as Madame Butterfly is included. All four have big sounds, big scenes, long melodic lines, "tunes" showing what the human voice can do.
Remember, back in the day grand opera just was the popular entertainment for the masses. Look for videos on YouTube, see what interests you. The big four were always around my house and on my own I came to enjoy Boheme, Tosca, Rosenkavalier and anything Wagner.
Opera is a visual and an aural experience, a form of theatre; for many it's mostly about the voice, helped by an ability to act well and create a convincing character. For me it is the big production … concerts not so much, but I do enjoy lush sounds. Here are three great voices of our time … close your eyes, listen to this. The older woman is giving up her young lover to a younger woman; you may be captivated :
Opera was well summed up in the scene in Pretty Woman where he takes her to the opera La Traviata: " … you'll know, you'll understand, the music is very powerful. People's reaction to opera the first tine they see it is very dramatic. People love it or they hate it. If they love it they'll always love it. If they don't, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul."
I hope you find something to love OP.
I heard there is a modern opera based on Brokeback Mountain. Has anyone seen or heard it?
We're seeing"Tosca" at the Sydney Opera House tomorrow night. I'm so excited!
Excellent choice R75. Thanks, I like this production. See folks, all doesn't always have to be realistic sets. When I was little the Radio City Music Hall show at Easter would have the girls in white robes came out doing a dance number & beating time to the music with large gladiolus/gladioli when Marguerite goes to heaven. Never forgot it. Guess at five I knew what camp was.
Yes, R76. I know the short story well, found the opera …. well, you probably have to hear it a lot to get used to it. I had a link for the full work, but it has been taken down. I found this excerpt a bit longer than the old link … ;
This one has 'em in bed …
This one tells the story …
You'll need to cut 'n past into your browser. Only one will take here,
R70, I looked up Barbara Hendricks. I like these little chores; the computer is such a tool. She was a soprano so that narrows her repertoire a bit. Google says she performed more than twenty roles, twelve of which she has recorded. Of course for doing a short video she could have done anything, something she'd not be known for. On the ARTS channel a lyric soprano in a grove of flowers could be almost anything … what comes to mind could be from either Charpentier's LOUISE or Massenet's MANON. Both girls are happy, singing of life, flowers, love. They're on the Renee Fleming CD The Beautiful Voice.
@Edga [R79] Thanks for the suggestion. I actually looked in her repertoire and saw too many things that could have been it. Instead, I looked in her filmography figuring non-Met films prior to 1998 are so rare it would limit it further. BINGO! The scene I was watching was from The Rake's Progress - No Word From Tom/Father I Go To Him :D. Had you not suggested to look by repertoire I would not have looked for filmography , so... many thanks !!!!
Study up on youtube first. Try the new Willy Decker production of Traviata with Anna Nets. Sexy as hell. To get your first opera boner look at Jonas Kauffman and Dmitri Hvorostovsky sing the duet from the Pearl Fishers. Then you will be ready for any opera
Those women in R73 ought to be put on trial for fashion crimes against humanity. I was waiting for a wrestling match in a lily pond.