Keep Calm and Love Opera
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time and finally I’ve made it! I’d like to present you a pretty short list of my favorite operas! Actually, it was hard to pick few of many, many candidates so…in advance I want to clear it out that the chosen ones were just the most striking things that came to my mind! It’s like to choose a favorite movie or a song! Tough!!!! You may ask why I’m doing all of this if it’s so impossible for me! I just hope that my blog will arouse your interest in these masterpieces I’ve picked. Maybe some of them you know but haven’t had time to listen or watch them or you didn’t even think such pieces existed.
I think a half of the opera world agree with me! It’s one of the most popular opera in opera theatres and even if you don’t like opera, you probably know at least one melody from «Carmen»! I lOVE absolutely everything here: the plot is fantastic (I doubt if someone can sleep during such an action!), music is brilliantly simple and catchy. I’ve read the book which the opera is based on, I have to say, the original story is much tougher than the libretto. But Bizet managed to catch the spirit of the main heroine and her energy which we feel through his music! I say it every time when I watch «Carmen»: «Bizet could compose nothing after «Carmen», it’s such a masterpiece that he would make history anyway».
Tchaikovsky’s «Eugene Onegin»
This story is very close to my heart cause I’m Russian:). I read the novel «Evgeniy Onegin» at school and then at my 20s. It’s not just a love drama, primarily it’s a portrait of a Russian soul and mentality. Every line is widely known within the Russians. Tchaikovsky’s music is very passionate itself but here it explodes with emotions and power! I love pieces for chorus a lot, they are very beautiful! Must-see for everyone!
Mozart’s «Don Giovanni»
It’s not a love at first sight here:) but now it’s my favorite opera! I love Don Giovanni as a character, I consider that he is an amazingly difficult and controversial hero, not so typical as many people think. I’ve read Moliere’s book, seen a staged play at drama theatre. So I’m at some point aware of this man, his goals in life, his philosophy. I like how Moliere combines tragedy and comedy in his play. And Mozart does it very smart too. I always have goose bumps when I hear the first notes of the ouverture. This opera is full of joy and jokes (from Leporello mostly:)) and meanwhile you become a witness of a person’s degradation. I like the thoughts-provoking aspect of this Mozart’s work and that despite this tragedy it has a happy end:).
Rossini’s «La cenerentola»
The world of opera would be less joyful without Rossini! Even though I prefer operas with a tragic ending to funny ones but you just can’t dislike Rossini’s masterp! They are real operatic romcoms! The plot of «La cenerentola» is simple and known to anybody but it has some changes like: instead of a stepmother here we have a stepfather; there are no fairy godmother or glass slippers. (I think this makes the plot more real). Rossini’s sense of humour is in his music!!! It supports the libretto with a sudden note or word that can make you laugh and show you the comic side of this or that situation! That’s why Rossini is genius and unique! By the way, another great thing that I love about Rossini is his talent in composing terzettos, quartets or sextets like in the above-mentioned opera. Especially, I like listening over and over to a sextet «Questo è un nodo avviluppato»! So definitely go and watch!
Bellini’s «I Capuleti e I Montecchi»
First of all, I’m not a huge Bellini admirer, I mean I like some arias but not whole operas. And here is an exception - «I Capuleti e I Montecchi». I have to confess that I have watched none of productions. I just listened to CD recording of this opera….and…….immediately fell in love with it! I understand everything even though I don’t speak Italian! The melodies are fantastic, I guess now I know this opera by heart:) cause I’ve listened to it so many times. I really wanna see it staged but for now I haven’t found any good production with a good cast. If you are fond of belcanto, I highly recommend this opera to you!!!
Tchaikovsky’s «The Queen of Spades»
This opera is unfortunately staged very seldom:(, I don’t know why. It’s a dramatic play that even can suit for Verdi’s music. Many tenor singers are dreaming to become German some day (a little pun!:)). This is not a usual, trite, in some way, role for a tenor, it’s a part-transformation. It’s always interesting to play sth like that. I think it’s very similar to Faust but unlike Gounod’s character who at least cares about Marguerite, German becomes a mad man for whom love is not enough (and later nothing). All German’s arias and scenes are powerful, thrilling and frightening. The female character, Lisa, is a very genuine, loving person. Tchaikovsky has created very touching and beautiful music for her. My favorite aria is «Otkuda eti slezy». The whole opera captivates you from the start with its thrilling plot, so that’s why it’s considered to be another Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece!
Puccini’s «La Boheme»
Another very obvious choice of mine is «La Boheme». Puccini is the most «tears-provoking» composer, mostly not because of the tragic libretto but his emotional music! I love its plot! Cause it’s a story about young people, about love at first sight which is familiar to anybody, I guess. When I watched the motion picture «La Boheme» filmed by Robert Dornhelm, I cried for the first time (I mean during a movie). The end of the opera is perfectly written. I think it’s the best death scene ever composed cause it sounds very natural. I like this Puccini’s «natural» style of composing! I will love it forever!
Again Puccini!:). Why do many people adore «Tosca»? I’ll tell you just three things: «Vissi d’arte», «Te Deum», «E lucevan le stelle». These famous arias are characteristics of main heroes (Tosca, Scarpia, Cavaradossi) and reasons why this opera is considered to be one of the greatest! Previously, I’ve already said why I love Puccini’s music, here we also have a very dramatic and exciting libretto. If someone decided to film it, it would be a great movie! For me it’s always a big pleasure to listen to «Tosca»!
Donizetti’s «L’elisir d’amore»
«The Elixir of Love» is an opera about our life. Nemorino tries to conquer Adina’s heart. This plot is as old as the hills, that’s why everyone can relate to it. Donizetti is known as a great melodist. After hearing some tunes I immediately sing them like usual pop songs. Characters are so funny and touching, you feel sympathy for them at once. The simplicity of this piece is a key to its success! If you’ve never been at opera theatre (but wanna get to know opera), it’s the best choice for start.
Borodin’s «Prince Igor»
The libretto is based on a Russian poem «The Tale of Igor's Campaign». Borodin hasn’t finished his opera but left for us great musical numbers. Because of that, conductors, directors adapt it to their own needs or taste and form «Prince Igor» in different variations. Some of them do it good, the others do it bad but in most cases all productions include the most famous pieces like Polovetsian dances, Prince Igor’s aria «Ni sna, ne otdykha». But the interesting fact is that this opera is for chorus with soloists not in the other way. Every character has one or two arias but a chorus has A LOT of that…really A LOT!!! And it’s wonderful, chorus makes it a complete work. As I’m singing in a choir and love it very much, I recommend it to all people who appreciate choir singing or sing themselves!
This is just my list! I’d like to know yours! Leave comments below!