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Thread: Greetings from another opera addict

          
   
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  1. #1
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    Greetings from another opera addict

    Hello, everyone. I've been lurking here for quite a while. I felt a bit intimidated initially, but now I feel I know and like you all, that you're friends even if you don't know me.

    I differ from most of you in that I'm not a collector. I'm on a tight budget, so I subscribe to Spotify Premium and Met on Demand, and follow YouTunes. I listen to them through a good Bose bluetooth speaker. This way I can hear and see almost everything I want, with the exception of some DVDs I lust after (coincidentally, all featuring Jonas Kaufmann).

    I've been an opera lover since the mid 1970's. I was addicted for about a decade, got mostly clean, and then fell back into addiction about a year ago. I decided to go back to some things I hadn't liked in the past, with a more open mind. First I gave Maria Callas a fair listen, and decided she was terrific. I always loved her Lady Macbeth, and now I know and appreciate many more of her performances.

    Then I decided to give Richard Wagner a chance. The only opera of his I had heard and seen was Tannhäuser, back when the Met broadcast the Schenk production in the early '80's. I liked it quite a bit, but decided that Wagner was much too long winded and I certainly wouldn't like his other operas. Rather like all those people who haven't tried sushi but are sure they wouldn't like all that raw fish.

    Well, I started with Lohengrin. Instant love! Coup de foudre! I adored it. I watched the Lohengrins on Met on Demand and YouTube, and then decided to put a toe into the Ring water. I watched the Met Machine Rhinegold, and found it amusing, but not important. So I had relatively low expectations before watching Walküre, which I figured would be similar. Oh my, was I ever wrong. I will never forget watching the first act of Walküre, with der Jonas and Westbroek. When the curtain went down all I could say was "Wow. Wow. Wow." Utterly blown mind. I went on to watch the rest of Walküre and cried buckets of tears for Wotan at the end of acts 2 and 3. Oh how I love that opera. Walküre and Parsifal are almost tied for my favorite, but I think Walküre comes out a bit ahead, unless I'm actually listening to Parsifal at the moment.

    So, I finished the Met Machine Ring, watched Tristan and Parsifal, and became a total Wagner addict. I almost never listen to anything else, except I make occasional breaks for Fidelio (hello, Amfortas and MAuer). So far, I can't warm up to Meistersinger and find it boring, but I know that's unreasonable of me and I'm currently working on it. I haven't seen Flying Dutchman yet, but I will eventually.

    For some months now I have been methodically going from Wagner opera to opera, listening to most or all of the well-known recordings of the opera out there (except for some of the zillions of Bayreuth recordings from the 50's). I did the Ring, then Tristan, then Parsifal that way. I'll post about my favorites in the appropriate threads.

    Today I was supposed to start listening to Mesitersinger, starting with the Solti for Norman Bailey's Hans Sachs. So instead I listened for the first time to Barenboim's Fidelio with Waltraud Meier and Placido Domingo (and Rene Pape). I thought the casting was a little unusual, but it turned out extremely well. Glorious singing from Meier, whom I adore anyway, and, as I expected, from Domingo. Maybe Domingo wasn't suffering quite enough, but Meier made up for it in passionate expression. The one thing I didn't like about the recording was that it omits the dialogue. Pape was good, but not thrilling the way he is when singing Gurnemanz.

    Well, that was a pretty long-winded introduction, but it does tell you what I'd like you to know about me and my addiction. If you know a good 12-step program, let me know.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to our enabling world where we actively support each other's addiction. This is the very worst place to be if you are trying "to break the habit"; conversely, it's the very best place to be if you want to wallow in melodies.

    I tried to quit once, when I was asked "Why?"

    Since I had no answer to that question, I quit trying to quit.

    Again, welcome.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Hello from another opera addict! I habitually collect multiple performances of my favorite opera, like about (ballparking here so I don't have to pull them out and count them) 24 Fidelios (plus 9 on DVD), 9 Hollanders (plus 3 on DVD), 8 Maria Stuardas (plus 5 on DVD), 4 L'Elisir d'Amore (plus 1 on DVD), 8 La Sonnambula (plus 4 on DVD), ...

    I do like Waltraud Meier and have that Fidelio you mentioned (I Frankensteined in the dialog from the Bernstein Fidelio--not sure that is a good thing but...). Also have her on Lohengrin DVD and a CD set that is in the mail. A very special Waltraud performance to me is a non-commercial video of Flotow's Martha with a youthful Waltraud (most likely before she sang Wagner).

    My philosophy is that if I have spare cash laying around, why not buy another opera CD or DVD. More fun than hoarding money that may live longer than I do, so instead, will enjoy it.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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  5. #4
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Oh wow, you'll fit right in! Welcome to Opera Lively! This was a delightful post to read - well written, passionate, and saying all the right things... Yes, we do in majority find Die Walküre to be tops, since it won our contest (you probably saw it in our Lists forum); and it is indeed my very favorite opera. Now I'm sure you'll eventually change your mind about Die Meistersinger being boring. I find it quite compelling and exciting.

    I loved that you used "coup de foudre" since it is exactly what should happen to someone listening to Lohengrin for the first time!

    While I loved your post and preferences and of course here on Opera Lively we respect everybody's tastes, the one thing I'd encourage you not to do, is shutting down everything else in favor of Wagner. Sure, Wagner is also my favorite composer, but the opera universe does have some other bright stars... For example, one might want to explore the Baroque... and you've been lurking, you might know that I'm a big advocate for contemporary opera. I went berserk for Written on Skin and I'd love to know your opinion of it.

    It is nice to have another member from New York City, where I used to live. I visit the city 3 to 4 times per year every year (next, early May for the Met's last week of the season, for Serail and Elektra).

    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGerald View Post
    I tried to quit once, when I was asked "Why?"

    Since I had no answer to that question, I quit trying to quit.
    Very well put! I love it!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Hello La Susanna and a warm welcome to you. Like you I was convinced that Wagner would bore me, like you I first fell in love with Lohengrin and am a Wagner addict. For a long time my favourite Wagner was still Lohengrin and Walkure, but now it's Lohengrin and Tristan - but that latter took me a long time and going to a live performance before I got into it. I also find Meistersinger a little dull, but I do enjoy the one on Met Player with Mattila. My favourite is the one from Glyndebourne with Gerald Finley as Hans Sachs.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    Hello La Susanna

    I'm very happy you made that succesful crossing from lurking to member and am sure you will get more out of this fun forum now you have done so.

    I don't think an introduction is necessary since you seem to know us quite well but further to JG (dad) 's advice, I will give my 2 step programme to opera addiction;

    1. acceptance
    2. enjoy


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  12. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clayton View Post
    Hello La Susanna

    I'm very happy you made that succesful crossing from lurking to member and am sure you will get more out of this fun forum now you have done so.

    I don't think an introduction is necessary since you seem to know us quite well but further to JG (dad) 's advice, I will give my 2 step programme to opera addiction;

    1. acceptance
    2. enjoy

    I actively and with the greatest emphasis deny any and all responsibility for Clayton!!!

    "Dad" indeed!

  13. #9
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Clayton,

    I have heard of people going bananas but have never heard of anyone going broccoli --until now.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Hello La Susanna and welcome to the forum. Ignore everyone else, they're crazy. I'm the only sane one here .....
    .........................

    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    Hello La Susanna and welcome to the forum. Ignore everyone else, they're crazy. I'm the only sane one here .....
    .........................

    So explain why the Boardmeister is a shrink, then ...

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    Welcome! One more for the Lohengrin squad!

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  18. #13
    Senior Member Veteran Member Povero Buoso's Avatar
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    Welcome! I confess to my lack of knowledge of Wagner operas (the length!). On the other hand if you fancy getting to know anything by Puccini I like to think I know a little bit about his operas (conveniently the best Tosca is on youtube!)
    "Non sono in vena" Rodolfo summing up P.B's feelings on his dissertation.

  19. #14
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    Hi Florestan. My "collecting" of multiple performances of the operas I like consists of adding them to my Spotify list, but after doing that I do have some kind of feel of possessing them.

    Have you heard/seen Waltraud Meier's Isolde with Siegfried Jerusalem, Barenboim conducting? There's a video of it on YouTube. She is the most beautiful Isolde you can imagine, she IS Isolde. It's a weird production, but you can just ignore that, and just feast on Meier. The only wrinkle is that the subtitles are in French, but if that's a problem, ignore them or turn them off. I listen to the CD version too, and it's one of my favorite Tristans.

  20. #15
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    Thank you for the very kind words, good sir.

    I'm sure I won't stay on an almost all-Wagner diet forever. In fact, I seem to be nearing the end of the line, although I may listen to multiple Lohengrins and Tannhäusers after I finally conquer Meistersinger. I would wait to tackle another sub-genre until I can give it more undivided attention, cal it methodical, call it obsessive compulsive (I would). I do have Baroque opera in mind since so many of you seem so crazy about it. I wouldn't hold out much hope for contemporary opera, however. I have very old fogey tastes in the arts. I don't usually like modern music, modern art, modern architecture or modern novels (anything avant garde or experimental). And I'm pretty strongly anti-regie in opera productions.

    I haven't forgotten all my other opera loves. To list some favorites, so you'll know I'm not totally Wagnerfied: Otello, Don Carlo, Rigoletto and Macbeth from Verdi, Lucia and Norma, and, of course, Don Giovanni. Most Puccini too, though I no longer love his operas as much as the others listed. I just don't seem to be in the mood to listen to any of them right now, perhaps because I know them all so very well? There seems to be so much more to discover in any given mature Wagner opera, even after many listenings and studying the German libretto.

    Speaking of German, I like to study languages through opera, by reading the libretto in the original language as the opera plays. The goal is to be able to understand the opera as it is sung, so I value good diction highly in singers. I started this Wagner adventure with some mostly-forgotten introductory German, and now I can read most of the Wagner libretti, especially on my Kindle so I can look up the words I don't know. If I can still learn languages, it probably means I don't have Alzheimers. Of course that's some mighty weird German. If you put me down in modern Berlin I can tell people that my father promised me a sword, but I couldn't ask where the toilets are. French is my best language, but I also have a combination of travelling Italian and 19th century opera libretto Italian.

    By the way, the only signature line I can think of would be too rude to use, although it's tempting. It's from Le Nozze, Susanna to Figaro: "Perche io son la Susanna e tu sei pazzo." All present company excepted. I chose the nom de Forum "la Susanna" because my name is Susan. It was that or Sieglinde, and she comes to a bad end.

    Susan

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