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Greatest Opera of All Time? Why?

What do you think is the greatest opera of all time? I tried to make a poll, but there is only space for ten options.

My vote is Madame Butterfly, but it was the first opera I ever saw, so I am biased.

by Anonymousreply 130December 4, 2021 3:36 PM

Viene la sera induces an audible orgasm in me, OP. I'd cast my vote for any Puccini opera for the music alone! Here are Pavarotti and Mirella Freni.

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by Anonymousreply 1October 25, 2021 9:23 PM

Turandot. Can you believe it was written in 1920?

by Anonymousreply 2October 25, 2021 9:31 PM

I love Turandot and Strauss’ Elektra

by Anonymousreply 3October 25, 2021 9:40 PM

It would have to be by Verdi.

by Anonymousreply 4October 25, 2021 9:47 PM

Einstein on the Beach

by Anonymousreply 5October 25, 2021 9:48 PM

OP, I would consider a different description than "bias" in responding to your favorite "opera" (I won't quibble about Puccini but some do.) being the one you saw first.

Perhaps "philistinism."

by Anonymousreply 6October 25, 2021 9:53 PM

I really like the last 20 minutes of Gotterdammerung- the problem being, you have to sit through five hours and twenty minutes to get to it. I have known people who who show up just for the last act.

by Anonymousreply 7October 25, 2021 9:54 PM

"Don Giovanni," because it is the greatest opera. No further explanation should be needed.

by Anonymousreply 8October 25, 2021 9:56 PM

Butterfly and Traviata are both pretty close to perfect

by Anonymousreply 9October 25, 2021 9:58 PM

Hmmm... I lovemany of them. Carmen from the French composer George Bizet, is one of them

by Anonymousreply 10October 25, 2021 9:59 PM

Also I love this from Offenbach's Tales "Nuit d'amour". First time I heard it was in the Italian movie La bella Vita directed by Roberto Benigni

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by Anonymousreply 11October 25, 2021 10:06 PM

Favourite is too hard. Better to say your top 5 desert island operas whilst you are doing your Tom hanks Castaway time. Wilson would make a great Pinkerton.

by Anonymousreply 12October 25, 2021 10:11 PM

The Flower Duet written by Léo Delibes is really something. Scroll to 1:03 min, in the video, and you will remember it directly. This is pure beauty.

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by Anonymousreply 13October 25, 2021 10:14 PM

Turandot is my favourite.

Unfinished as it is and despite its stupid libretto .

by Anonymousreply 14October 25, 2021 10:20 PM


by Anonymousreply 15October 25, 2021 10:21 PM

Asking for a "favorite" would trigger quite a list. But greatest? La Traviata, then Tristan und Isolde.

by Anonymousreply 16October 25, 2021 10:23 PM

The whole Ring Cycle.

by Anonymousreply 17October 25, 2021 10:25 PM

Vivaldi, "Il Giustino vedro con mio diletto", and the singer here, not only has Farinelli voice but he is also hot as fuck. He sings like an angel.

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by Anonymousreply 18October 25, 2021 10:29 PM

Better to watch The Ring than listen to turgid hours of it on disc.

by Anonymousreply 19October 25, 2021 10:33 PM

No love at all for Carmen?

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by Anonymousreply 20October 25, 2021 10:35 PM

Siegfried sinks the Ring for me.

by Anonymousreply 21October 25, 2021 10:35 PM

Carmen always seems like a good idea until you realize how long it is.

by Anonymousreply 22October 25, 2021 10:36 PM

Souvenir... La Liberta from Friedrich Haendel

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by Anonymousreply 23October 25, 2021 10:37 PM

I like the bird.

by Anonymousreply 24October 25, 2021 10:37 PM

R20 Check at R10

by Anonymousreply 25October 25, 2021 10:38 PM

My favorites are the ones where the opera ends when the fat lady sings.

Rigoletto, Götterdämmerung, Tosca.

by Anonymousreply 26October 25, 2021 10:45 PM

Listen to Das Rheingold as it's mercifully short and only then listen to a highlights disc for the rest.

For Walkure, all you need is Sigmund & Sieglinde's love stuff, Ride Of The Valkyries, & Magic Fire stuff.

Skip Siegfried.

Götterdämmerung . Last 20 minutes.

by Anonymousreply 27October 25, 2021 10:47 PM

I like that Phantom Of The Opera. That there’s a good 'un.

by Anonymousreply 28October 25, 2021 10:49 PM

Götterdämmerung All of it.

by Anonymousreply 29October 25, 2021 10:52 PM

[Quote] Don Giovanni," because it is the greatest opera. No further explanation should be needed.

For some reason, although its individual parts are gorgeous, as a whole, it just sloughs along. The 90 minute first act seems to go on forever

by Anonymousreply 30October 25, 2021 11:00 PM

You don’t want to miss Siegfried’s funeral march.

by Anonymousreply 31October 25, 2021 11:03 PM

Oh my!

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by Anonymousreply 32October 25, 2021 11:05 PM

"Je crois entendre encore" from Les pecheurs de perles" opera by Georges Bizet. This singer moved me to tears. This is one of my favorite pieces all operas included. I only knew Placido Domingo's version and I was laready in love with it until a French friend of mine shared this video on FB

It starts at 0:48 minutes. He is so in it he became the song.

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by Anonymousreply 33October 25, 2021 11:05 PM

Walküre. All of it. From the frantic opening scene to Fricks bickering to Wotans regret and the fire magic at the end. A great plot and otherworldly music.

And, yes Don Giovanni. And Figaro. Both perfect.

by Anonymousreply 34October 25, 2021 11:06 PM


by Anonymousreply 35October 25, 2021 11:06 PM

Any the incest scene in Walküre at the end of act two. The music is pure fucking.

by Anonymousreply 36October 25, 2021 11:10 PM

The great caging with Wagner is that the absolute best comes at the end. And it’s worth the wait.

by Anonymousreply 37October 25, 2021 11:14 PM

Siegfried’s Funeral March by German music college orchestra with many cuties.

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by Anonymousreply 38October 25, 2021 11:15 PM

Oops. Wrong link.

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by Anonymousreply 39October 25, 2021 11:16 PM

Man, R18 you ain't kidding... that Polish counter-tenor's beautiful and his voice is superb (and he could cover Bronski Beat tunes like nobody else, including Jimmy Somerville

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by Anonymousreply 40October 25, 2021 11:17 PM

R40 Yes, yes and yes ;-)

by Anonymousreply 41October 25, 2021 11:23 PM

R40 The thing is he didn't know the camera was filming this rehearsal. This was in Aix en Provence, in the middle of summer in France. He was wearing summer outfits, relaxed and focused on the performance he would give that evening. He didn't know he could look so sexy. The rest is history. He have a majestic voice.

by Anonymousreply 42October 25, 2021 11:31 PM

What, no love for TOSCA?

by Anonymousreply 43October 25, 2021 11:36 PM


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by Anonymousreply 44October 25, 2021 11:49 PM

Crossing my fingers the Strauss Electra nutjobs don't overtake the next 40 pages of which was the better performance of this atonal screecher.

by Anonymousreply 45October 26, 2021 12:00 AM

Carmen was the first opera I saw and I think it is very accessible for someone hearing opera for the first time.

by Anonymousreply 46October 26, 2021 12:08 AM

And the new generation is already here. Andrea Perez Ursulet is the new sensation. Here he is singing "The cold song" from Purcell.

He was only 17 years old full of anxiety, in a classical music competition on French tv. He won. Of course he won.

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by Anonymousreply 47October 26, 2021 12:10 AM

I have always loved Verdi and sort of avoided Wagner.

But for the last decade, I’ve finally gone to Wagner performances and wow, he blows my mind.

Lohengrin is a wonderful midway better Italian and German opera

by Anonymousreply 48October 26, 2021 12:57 AM


by Anonymousreply 49October 26, 2021 12:57 AM

I like Phantom of the Opera because it's not as opera-y as most other operas.

by Anonymousreply 50October 26, 2021 1:01 AM

Astrid Varnay was a good Elektra.

by Anonymousreply 51October 26, 2021 1:01 AM

As an eldergay who loves his divas, I’m surprised that Siegfried is my favorite of the Ring.

by Anonymousreply 52October 26, 2021 1:07 AM

R50, um, sorry to break this to you, but…

by Anonymousreply 53October 26, 2021 1:15 AM

Elektra is amazing. It’s also the only Strauss I can stand from beginning to end. Everything else should be shaved by an hour.

by Anonymousreply 54October 26, 2021 1:16 AM

R50, are you also R28?

by Anonymousreply 55October 26, 2021 1:30 AM

R54 even Salome?!

by Anonymousreply 56October 26, 2021 2:27 AM

I’m with R8 and will brook no argument. It was the greatest opera ever written on the day it was first performed and has remained unsurpassed, despite a few rather important developments. But IT HAS EVERYTHING, and that’s about all it needs. But I wouldn’t call it the most PERFECT opera ever written.That prize goes to the absolutely performer-proof, incredibly succinct LA BOHEME.

Thus spake Zarathustra.

by Anonymousreply 57October 26, 2021 2:34 AM

+1 for Boheme. It just gets better and better…

by Anonymousreply 58October 26, 2021 2:44 AM

Der Rosenkavalier is about a child rapist!

by Anonymousreply 59October 26, 2021 5:04 AM

R56, particularly Salome!

by Anonymousreply 60October 26, 2021 2:04 PM

While I like La Boheme, it never affected me emotionally until I saw it performed by Yale School of Music students. When performed by age-appropriate singers, it was phenomenal.

I still dislike the fact that Boheme goes from a scene of love and joy and suddenly to one where they've broken up. There needs to be some transition scene.

by Anonymousreply 61October 26, 2021 2:07 PM

Very conventional choices. Try something different.

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by Anonymousreply 62October 26, 2021 2:12 PM

Is opera even relevant anymore?

Modern music is so much more accessible.

by Anonymousreply 63October 26, 2021 2:17 PM

R63 Opera is just as accessible as modern music.

by Anonymousreply 64October 26, 2021 2:24 PM

Why aren't there more opera dance remixes?

by Anonymousreply 65October 26, 2021 2:26 PM

And some operas are modern.

by Anonymousreply 66October 26, 2021 2:26 PM

My vote is for Die Walkure. I like how Wagner gives equal status to the orchestration as well as the singing in his operas (which Mozart also did, but I find classical opera a bit too neat and tidy). Although I love Puccini, and would pick it over Wagner for a night out because Wagner drags on and on, I find Puccini's operas are great for the singing but not as impressive for the orchestration.

by Anonymousreply 67October 26, 2021 2:30 PM

Opera isn't even on the radar of younger generations. I can't see this artform existing on any large scale in 50 years. No way the MET can keep filling up its 4000 seat auditorium nightly

by Anonymousreply 68October 26, 2021 2:31 PM

For me, The Bold and the Beautiful. Deep, personal story arcs and Eric plays the piano beautifully

by Anonymousreply 69October 26, 2021 2:31 PM

My favorite Oprah is the MTM cast reunion. Oprah even replicated the WJM newsroom and Mary’s apartment. Outstanding!

by Anonymousreply 70October 26, 2021 2:32 PM

I came to opera late. I used to get scores from the library and follow them along as I listened. The score that seemed the most sophisticated technical achievement was that for Debussy's Palleas et Melisandre. It is just exquisite.

by Anonymousreply 71October 26, 2021 2:35 PM

R71, sadly it's bore in the opera house

by Anonymousreply 72October 26, 2021 2:48 PM

R68. Classical music as a whole has an ageing audience, but I find opera audiences younger than the audiences for most forms of classical music perhaps because it has more spectacle than instrumental concerts. On the other hand, it is economically less viable than other forms of classical music because of the high production costs.

by Anonymousreply 73October 26, 2021 3:00 PM



Don Giovanni

by Anonymousreply 74October 26, 2021 3:00 PM

Definitely it's Akhnaten.

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by Anonymousreply 75October 26, 2021 3:03 PM

r75 is that good?! I've been wanting to see it for a while!

by Anonymousreply 76October 26, 2021 3:11 PM

For a gut punch of a finale, and something different:

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by Anonymousreply 77October 26, 2021 3:11 PM

R76, it's great in the opera house--spectacle and hypnotic music. But I can't imagine seeing it again

by Anonymousreply 78October 26, 2021 3:25 PM

R13, is just the segment from 1:03 the Flower Duet or the entire performance?

by Anonymousreply 79October 26, 2021 3:50 PM

Never mind..^^^

by Anonymousreply 80October 27, 2021 12:15 AM

Sorry R68 but Opera will be here in 50 years and another 100 years if we last that long.

Your modern Bieber's and the like will be little footnotes in history. Completely forgotten within a decade.

All music today is disposable tripe. Made up of fragments disguised behind bips, bops and other techno nonsense to hide the fact that there is actually no melody in today's music for the most part.

There are exceptions but most is drivel. And the U.S. is to blame with its hip hop and all that other rapper crap which has become to dominant form for the young.

Young, who are the most fickle of consumers. That;s why it wont stand the test of time.

by Anonymousreply 81October 27, 2021 4:03 PM

Top 5: Trovatore, Lohengrin, Elektra, Händel's Alcina, Parsifal. Oh and Götterdämmerung for the end of course but also for Siegfrieds Trauermarsch, and all of the Ring Cycle. I also got a huge soft soft spot for Lucia di Lammermoor and Otello though and Monteverdi in general as well as everything Benjamin Britten I have yet to discover much about. I cannot decide. Right at the moment, I'm hooked on Lohengrin again since I heard a beautiful recording of the Gralserzählung recently (which I'm listening to now over and over).

by Anonymousreply 82October 27, 2021 4:19 PM

I love most any Verdi but AIDA and IL TROVATORE are my favs

by Anonymousreply 83October 27, 2021 4:34 PM

Cav Rusticana is full of power and passion.

by Anonymousreply 84October 27, 2021 4:34 PM

I have seen it in the opera house r72, and I wasn't bored. My experience was not helped by the production which reminded me of a fast fashion shop window. I understand that at that time french music was trying to pull away from Wagner and German music. I thought the libretto by Maeterlinck managed that brilliantly but Debussy struggled. It was no surprise to me that it took him 10 years to write this and he didn't produce another. I find what engages me when watching opera are the decisions the creators make in each scene and, if these surprise and add depth to a scene, this is when I am aware of genius. There are plenty such moments in Palleas et Melisandre, so I wasn't bored.

by Anonymousreply 85October 27, 2021 11:10 PM

[quote] He sings like an angel.

Angels don't require the use of an unnaturally-amplified electric microphone.

by Anonymousreply 86October 27, 2021 11:36 PM

I have new appreciation for Il Trovatore after seeing the recent LA Opera production

by Anonymousreply 87October 28, 2021 12:04 AM

I love all these. Plus, Porgy and Bess.

by Anonymousreply 88October 28, 2021 12:12 AM

I don't know if Les Troyens is the greatest opera of all time, but I love this performance of "Vallon Sonore" by Topi Lehtipuu.

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by Anonymousreply 89October 28, 2021 12:19 AM


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by Anonymousreply 90October 28, 2021 12:27 AM

Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, and La Boheme.

by Anonymousreply 91October 28, 2021 12:28 AM

Mozart’s Da Ponte trilogy, Figaro/Giovanni/Cosi, is, in theory, as good as opera can get. However, those operas require great singing and conducting; they can be fatiguing without them. Warhorses like Il Trovatore, Tosca and La Boheme almost always connect.

by Anonymousreply 92October 28, 2021 12:51 AM

I like Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito as well.

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by Anonymousreply 93October 28, 2021 12:59 AM

R91, I agree with your first two suggestions, but I would reverse them: I’d rate Le Nozze di Figaro as the greatest before Don Giovanni. Le Nozzi is simply magnificent and the music is so gorgeous that you could listen to it over and over again. Dame Te Kanawa’s “Dove Sono” is pure perfection.

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by Anonymousreply 94October 28, 2021 1:05 AM

I just finished watching La Bourne in full via YouTube. Pavarotti and Freni. It was great!

by Anonymousreply 95October 28, 2021 1:17 AM

I'm listening to Freni & Pavrotti's Madam Butterfly and it's like Karajan took ten valium before picking up the baton.

The whole things is as slow as molasses. I think the whole thing is going to grind to a complete halt any bar from now.

by Anonymousreply 96October 28, 2021 11:06 AM

I like Anna Moffo & Cesare Valletti's Butterfly with Leinsdorf.

It's brisk!

by Anonymousreply 97October 28, 2021 11:09 AM

I love Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.

by Anonymousreply 98October 28, 2021 11:30 AM

There are many wonderful operas, and wonderful opera composers - from Puccini to Strauss to Handel to Mussorgsky to Bizet to Berg to Donizetti....the list goes on.

But the three opera composers in a class of their own are Mozart, Verdi, and Wagner. The greatest operas of all time are undoubtedly theirs, and there's not even a debate about this amongst serious musicians. And, yes, I'm being a pompous snob, but I'm an opera queen so deal with it.

My votes for the greatest operas from that trio of composers would be: Cosi fan Tutte, Falstaff, and Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.

by Anonymousreply 99October 28, 2021 11:37 AM

The overture to The Marriage of Figaro is easily and at all events the greatest opera overture of all time.

by Anonymousreply 100October 28, 2021 11:47 AM

With you on Cosy Fan Tutte, R99,” Hardly a “numbers opera” but some of the best music ever written. And a pretty funny plot. Never got into Falstaff.

by Anonymousreply 101October 28, 2021 11:56 AM

^Cosi fan Tutte, dammit

by Anonymousreply 102October 28, 2021 11:57 AM

Mozart operas are spoiled by all the dull recitative that pads them out.

Everything comes to a screeching halt to hear some boring conversational bit with some stupid harpsichord prattling in the background.

by Anonymousreply 103October 28, 2021 12:04 PM

Interesting how the same opera can come across completely differently when performed by different casts and conductors.

When the MET's new production of Les Troyens opened with the sublime Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (who sadly died of cancer soon after) in 2003, it was one of the greatest operatic nights of my life. Everyone was just spectacular. Five hours (yes, with intermissions, it's that long) literally flew by

A few years later, I went to the revival with a different cast and its just slogged on ...and on and on and on....

by Anonymousreply 104October 28, 2021 12:52 PM

I like Mozart but the passion and sweep of Verdi and Wagner operas are more engaging.

by Anonymousreply 105October 28, 2021 12:53 PM

Les Troyens sounds almost modern to me, cooler than Verdi or Wagner.

by Anonymousreply 106November 2, 2021 1:01 AM

In no particular order - Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, Carmen.

Most stirring overture goes to Carmen though.

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by Anonymousreply 107November 2, 2021 1:11 AM

Post-WWII: Dialogues of the Carmelites, Peter Grimes

Underrated American opera: The Ballad of Baby Doe

Personal favorites from standard rep: Turandot, Lucia, Traviata, Tales of Hoffmann

by Anonymousreply 108November 2, 2021 2:01 AM

La Boheme.

It's perfect from the first note to the last.

by Anonymousreply 109November 2, 2021 2:28 AM

It is EXTREMELY difficult to choose, if not impossible.

Still, if I had to select some of them, I would suggest Armida by Rossini (epic story, some of Rossini's best composition work and a spectacular main role that can be performed by both mezzos and sopranos, which makes it quite unique); Norma by Bellini, which is simply spectacular; Les Huguenots by Mayerbeer, which has some of the most beautiful and yet, fiendishly difficult vocal lines ever... Still, I think that there are so many wonderful operas across all artistic periods, that choosing just a few is impossible.

Just watch this wonderful work by Salieri below, and be marvelled at the sheer beauty of what he could create.

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by Anonymousreply 110November 2, 2021 2:49 AM

Bellini and Mozart bore the heck out of me.

There, I said it.

by Anonymousreply 111November 2, 2021 1:32 PM

Phantom of the Opera is not an opera. It's a musical that features some opera.

Personally, you can't beat Turandot. Nessun Dorma has to be the pinnacle of opera writing and singing.

by Anonymousreply 112November 27, 2021 1:17 AM

For me, it's Che Gelida Manina and Donna non Vidi Mai. Pavarotti, the greatest by far.

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by Anonymousreply 113November 27, 2021 1:21 AM

Ryan's Hope.

by Anonymousreply 114November 27, 2021 1:32 AM

My grandmother took us grandkids to see Die Zauberflöte. When I heard the Queen of the Night sing, I was, as they say, transfixed.

by Anonymousreply 115November 27, 2021 1:56 AM

[quote] transfixed

Yes that is the right word.

The voice rings with an insistency of a spear (or dagger)! She is pure anger.

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by Anonymousreply 116November 27, 2021 2:49 AM

Interesting factoid: Though not related, both Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni (shown at R113), were born in the same Italian village in 1935. As babies, they shared the same wet nurse. Mystical, magical, miracle milk in those titties?!!

by Anonymousreply 117November 29, 2021 2:41 AM

My mother and grandmother were both great opera fans, but I'll be honest and admit that my interest in opera and classical music was first piqued by Bugs Bunny cartoons.

by Anonymousreply 118November 29, 2021 3:02 AM

There are still marvelous new composers out there, writing in the classical vein.

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by Anonymousreply 119November 29, 2021 3:28 AM

[quote]My mother and grandmother were both great opera fans, but I'll be honest and admit that my interest in opera and classical music was first piqued by Bugs Bunny cartoons.

I remember a scene with Diane in Cheers where the opera discussion devolved into Bugs Bunny opera episodes.

by Anonymousreply 120December 1, 2021 12:11 AM

Tom and Jerry in CARMEN is quite good, too.

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by Anonymousreply 121December 1, 2021 1:45 AM

Which opera has the greatest libretto of all time? Taking aside the music and staging and context and all that. Just the one with the best poetic lyrics.

Asking as a poetry-minded sort who is new to the opera..

by Anonymousreply 122December 4, 2021 12:44 AM

[quote] best poetic lyrics.

You're not supposed to hear the lyrics. The music comes first.

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by Anonymousreply 123December 4, 2021 12:58 AM

r16 somehow I ended up with the CD of greatest soprano arias and when I was first in LA from New York I was listening to it in my car to help distract from how much I hated driving. The aria Liebestod came on sung by Birgit Nilsson, it blew me away and as someone who doesn't know opera except for the most popular arias I listened to it over and over. I was especially blown away when I had the chance to get home to my computer and look up what she was singing about (this was before cell phones). Amazing piece of music.

by Anonymousreply 124December 4, 2021 12:58 AM

R123 cool. That’s not what I asked, though.

by Anonymousreply 125December 4, 2021 1:01 AM

Pelléas et Mélisande


The Cunning Little Vixen

by Anonymousreply 126December 4, 2021 1:10 AM

[quote] Pelléas et Mélisande… Lulu… The Cunning Little Vixen

Are they examples of operas with good 'poetic lyrics', Cf R122?

by Anonymousreply 127December 4, 2021 1:24 AM

Nixon in China

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by Anonymousreply 128December 4, 2021 3:50 AM

^ Great rhythms in that one.

by Anonymousreply 129December 4, 2021 3:55 AM

Leontyne Price has a beautiful Christmas track. Give it a listen.

by Anonymousreply 130December 4, 2021 3:36 PM
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