At least two people on Qt3 are into opera!

no way!! Purcell is one of my favourites. I love Dido and Aneas, which I am going to see live end of May for the first time. Check this out, not sure if you know it. Christina Pluhar Purcell “improvisations”

and I just did a Purcell youtube run this week

end of derail…

SO JEALOUS!!!1! Dude, can we be soulmates? That’s my opera of choice these days and I’ve been sampling various recordings on YouTube. Thanks for giving me another to put in the hopper. I’m not sure how I feel about those reinterpretations, though. I tend to be a pretty conservative opera fan. Here’s one I ran across the other day and enjoyed for a bit:

But can I tell you how dumb I am about opera? Part of what makes me prefer one recording to another is the acting, and in a little chamber opera like Dido and Aeneas, it’s all the more important. There are a couple of moments in Dido and Aeneas that will ruin the whole thing for me if a line reading is blown, especially since Purcell is using little singing recitative bits instead of just talking. So when Aeneas declares, “Let Dido smile and I’ll defy the feeble stroke of destiny!”, if the actor doesn’t get the right amount of “oomph!” into the line, I’m all, “Dude, come on, you just whiffed the turning point of the story…”

Anyway, yeah, that’s the opera I’ve been listening to that had me stick a picture of Purcell into my profile now that the game is over. And it’s not like I’m a big Purcell fan or anything. I like Verdi’s crowd-pleasers and the famous Wagner operas. That’s so random that you and I are both listening to Dido and Aeneas!

Anyway, get in there and save your civilization from an exploding sun. Don’t tell the other guys, but I’m totally going to be rooting for you to win!


Two of them??

for me there is a part, a line “like mercury himself” … I know that line from my very first recording I listened to. And my brain always compares it to the “original” recording.

I know what you mean, whenever I listen to Mozart “Nozze” (it is too long after all), there are two parts early, where there is so much potential for comedy. And if the production does not make me laugh or smile, I really wonder what they where thinking.

It is the “dong dong” from Susanna and later when she pronounces “l’eta” refering to “old age” in the duel with Marcellina…

btw. The Dido and Aeneas production I am going to see is by Sasha Waltz, and if they do it like I know it from the DVD, they split the singers and actors in two people. Dido who sings and Dido who is acting/dancing. I always thought that an opera singer is not the best actor, because when he/she studied music and singing, acting is more off to the side. But the great opera singers, they have real presence, I can’t deny that.

I have a repertoire as a listener of maybe like 10 operas, I am not into Verdi or Wagner (yet), but a lot into Philip Glass, Mozart and Purcell.

Here is something very special, I am sure nobody ever heard of it nowadays (but I own the original first CD print). It is a british BBC production of a TV opera by Oliver Sacks and Michael Nyman. A lot of the material is based on Schumann, but different.

one more and we can start a revolution,

Oh, there’s definitely that element! Like hearing the original Broadway recording of Les Miz and then being disappointed when you see a regional production. But I’ve gotten accustomed to that over the years. You just have to appreciate that there are different interpretations. But even then, I’m very demanding. If the tenor doesn’t hit that “Let Dido smile or I’ll defy…” with an understanding that it’s Dido’s death knell, I am immediately disappointed. Dido gets her famous “Ah Belinda” aria at the end, but this one declaration from Aeneas is every bit as important, as far as I’m concerned.

So when some tenor just mumbles it like it’s busywork on the way to his next number, the production loses me. Here’s an example, queued up at the right moment:

Dido says, “Fate forbids what you pursue,” because she knows the gods need him to leave and go found Rome. And she’s okay with that, she’s accepted it, even though she’s sick with grief. She knows he’s following his fate. But what he’s about to tell her is that he’s NOT following his fate, that he’s in love with her, and that he’s going to stay with her. He’s about the flip the script!

Aeneas has no fate but you
Let Dido smile and I’ll defy
The feeble stroke of destiny.”

That’s thunder. That’s a complete upending of the natural order. And yet the actor just sings it like it’s pillow talk. But it’s the entire reason Dido kills herself (she thought he was going to stay), which in turn is why Carthage hates Rome, which is the point of the story. This is part of the lore of the birth of Rome and the hatred between Rome and Carthage, and it’s all because Aeneas told Dido he loved her more than he loved his own destiny. It all comes down to that declaration:

Let Dido smile and I’ll defy the feeble stroke of destiny.

Hmm, I’m not sure how I feel about that. It feels like cheating. But awfully practical, that’s for sure. One cast for dancing and another cast for singing.

Yeah, that’s part of what I respond to. Just the ungodly rarity of someone with the talent to sing opera and act, especially when it’s just a recording (I’ve actually seen very little opera). My entry into opera was a baritone named Tito Gobbi who put an amazing amount of “color” into his voice. Without his performances in recordings of Aida, Rigoletto, and Tosca, I’m not sure I’d like opera as much as I do.


now I will be very attentative when that part will be performed live. Ready to throw my popcorn,.

How is Aeneas doing here? I skipped to the part

Pillow talk or enough emphasis? Looks like he is serious about it… btw. I love the witches and every single note of that opera. It is short, and there is no fat.

Bach never wrote operas, but some of his cantatas are like small contained “operas”… I can post some of it, one of his early cantata is really dark…

I love the staging, how it includes the orchestra, with the actors looking at each other across the “pit”, with every one dressed up nice and fancy. Very cool. The Belinda is especially great!

I’m not sure how I would have reacted just listening, but watching it, I’m totally down with his line reading. I wish he would hit “destiny” a little harder – maybe I want more baritone in my Aeneases? – but he delivers it out to the audience because he knows its significance! Thumbs up for that Aeneas!


Do it! I’ve tried to get into Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera, but it doesn’t do much for me.


same for me. I don’t get it, because I like everything from Beethoven. His Miss Solemnis is wonderful. But the sound of Fidelio is so off (except for the overtures). Also the story doesn’t do it for me… another time, maybe I am going to like it.

Bach’s Passions are also “opera adjacent,” in terms of the scope, the drama, and the recit/aria/chorus structure. Well worth a listen.

Links please! I want to hear cool stuff that’s “opera adjacent”!


One of my favorite things about Qt3 is reading other people wax ecstatic about topics I either know nothing about, have no interest in, or even actively loathe. (Opera is in both of the first two categories.) What a delight this thread is, even for someone who has never seen an opera and probably never will. (My kids weirdly enough have seen Turandot (so kid appropriate), Marriage of Figaro, and Aida.) Love reading you two write about your passion and attention to detail.

Here is a pretty good performance of Bach’s St. John Passion at the Proms some years back:

And here is a decent performance of his St. Matthew Passion:

… but why not start with one of the guys credited with inventing opera in the first place? Claudio Monteverdi. Whose operas are groundbreaking and awesome, of course (even though a Monteverdi opera and a Verdi opera are different enough from one another to seem like they belong to wholly different genres). BUT…and bear with me here… I think a wonderful place for you to start is to watch this documentary about him bringing aspects of this blooming art form into sacred music. This is a fantastic documentary about Monteverdi‘s vespers of 1610:

I think I can be counted as “into opera” though I am still a noob after many years. My interest is largely ancillary to my interest in instrumental classical music. Mozart is my favorite, mainly Figaro and Don Giovanni (the commendatore song is on my short list for greatest pieces of music ever written). But I also really love certain arias by others, like Quando M’en Vo and Mon Coeur S’ouvre a ta Voix. And yeah “When I Am Laid In Earth” is a knockout.

Bringing some debate heat to the thread: Beets sucks. Baroque forevah yo.

I’m not knowledgeable about opera at all, but I sure do enjoy it. Earlier this year I said to my daughter, who loves musicals, “hey, you wanna take musicals to the next level? Try opera!” She agreed and I duly took her to see Ellen Kent’s production of Madam Butterfly. We absolutely loved it (the subtitles helped). Had a box seat and everything!

Other than that I’ve only seen Tosca live. We nearly saw Carmen last month but there were no box seats left and we’ve become such instant snobs that we’ll only go if we can get a box, haha.

There are usually two or three in my town every year so I’m keeping my eyes peeled for what’s next.

I made the experience, if there is something you want to attend live, you need to travel. I live in a fairly huge city where the local opera is/was opera house of the year a couple of times for whole Germay, but I still watch productions in other cities more often than local.

I would travel for Einstein on the Beach to Amsterdam, because that’s the place it was performed. Philip Glass was done here in Stuttgart in the 80s, but not since.
By the way, Akhnaten was commissioned for the Stuttgart operea in the 80s. At that time the house was going under renovations. So there was not much space for the musicians. That’s why Glass decided to remove the violins, and that’s why you get this dark sound ( I read it in his book on opera), because only celli, bass and winds were used.

So which one of the passions can be heard at the end of THX 1138 when Thx gets to the surface…? There is one very famous piece in one of them (maybe both)

why was this recommended now to me from YT? King Arthur…