Category Archives: Opera

If You Dance With the Devil You Can’t Change Partners

Devils are common in opera. It’s so much more fun to be evil onstage than to be tasked with depicting bland goodness. So here are a few operatic Satans or their equivalents, but not the usual suspects. Anton Rubinstein’s opera Demon is rarely preformed in the West, but still enjoys popularity in Russia. The titular…


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1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

The title refers to aria, duet, trio, quartet, quintet, and sextet. I’ve picked examples of each that I feel should be at the top of any short list for the best yet composed. Readers can make their own list.  D’amor sull’ali rosee from Act 4 of Verdi’s Il Trovatore is the last bel canto soprano…


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Giuseppe Di Stefano – 100 Years

The third great tenor born in 1921 (July 24) was Giuseppe Di Stefano (1921-2008). Of all the tenors I heard in performance, Di Stefano had the most beautiful voice. He was also able to convey the emotional content of the music he sang with intensity and insight unmatched by any other tenor of his era….


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Liszt and Opera

Franz Liszt (1811-86) was best known as a composer, virtuoso pianist, teacher, and essayist. Among his works for solo piano are dozens of ‘transcriptions’, ‘paraphrases’, ‘fantasies’, or ‘reminiscences’ based on popular operas. These pieces are characterized by both their beauty and thematic insight. The only other composer who could match, or even surpass Liszt, at…


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Checkpoint Charlie and the Santa Fe Opera

In the early 80s I was a visiting professor the the Freie Universität Berlin. I wanted to visit the Pergamon Museum. As it was is in East Berlin I had to go through Checkpoint Charlie. It was an interesting experience. The East German guards took my passport and made me change American money for East…


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Donald Smith – The Great Australian Tenor

Donald Smith (1920-98) was the finest tenor Australia has yet to produce. Born in Queensland he served 7 months in a juvenile detention center for driving a car (not his) with some friends; he was 12 at the time. He worked as a sugar cane cutter for several years. In 1941 he enlisted in the…


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Finale 29 – La Traviata Act 2

La Traviata is an opera full of highlights. Much of its music its familiar to listeners who are not opera enthusiasts. But popular as it is, the finale to the second act is rarely heard apart from a complete performance. Nevertheless, this ensemble is one of Verdi’s grandest achievements. The world’s most popular opera, Traviata…


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Rosanna Carteri

Rosanna Carteri (1930-2020) was an Italian soprano who achieved great renown at a very young age. Born in Verona, she was raised in Padua. She began vocal studies before she was a teenager. By 14 she was learning complete roles under the tutelage of Ferruccio Cusinati who was the chorus master of the Verona Arena…


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Franco Corelli – 100 Years

Franco Corelli was born in April of 1921 in Ancona on the Adriatic coast. He decided to pursue an musical career later than most singers. After two unsuccessful encounters with voice teachers he resolved to train himself by intense study of the recordings of the great Italian tenors who had preceded him. After winning the…


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Finale 28 – Das Rheingold

Wagner wrote the librettos for the four Ring operas in reverse order. The music, however, was composed in the correct sequence. Das Rheingold lays the foundation for the long slog ahead. As it’s all in one act, allowing no chance for a bathroom break, it lasts only 2 hours and 20 minutes, give or take…


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