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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: January 23, 2008 Archive

Which Opera to See?

Posted at 10:26 AM on January 23, 2008 by Rex Levang (2 Comments)

A friend of mine asked me: Which of the Metropolitan Opera's HD movie transmissions should I go to?

A couple thoughts (mostly directed at opera newbies; you hardcore buffs will have your minds made up already).

Manon Lescaut (Puccini)
For an introduction to Italian opera, with its soaring melodies and high-powered vocalism, it could be a toss-up between this and La Boheme (see below). Karita Mattila should shine in the title role (Feb.16: 3 hrs 45 min; 3 intermissions)

Peter Grimes (Britten)
The only twentieth-century opera in the line-up. This is a drama that probes serious, even dark themes. The role of Peter Grimes is a terrific opportunity for a good singer-actor (March 15: 3 hours, 45 minutes; 2 intermissions)

Tristan and Isolde (Wagner)
Frankly--probably not for first-timers. Wagner can be long, static, repetitive.

But if that doesn't scare you off, do as musicians do: do some homework, clear away the day, and immerse yourself in maybe the greatest theater piece of the 19th century. (March 22: 5 hours, 35 minutes; 2 intermissions)

La Boheme (Puccini)
See Manon Lescaut above. This is the most popular opera ever written. The sets and stage direction by Franco Zeffirelli are knockouts. (April 5: 3 hours, 20 minutes; 2 intermissions)

The Daughter of the Regiment (Donizetti)
Tuneful, comic and light. Star power is generated by Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez--matinee idols, here in an actual matinee. (April 26: 3 hours, 10 minutes; 1 intermission)

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