Category Archives: Opera

Lethal Tenors

Serious operas typically end with one or more of the principals dead. The tenor is more often victim than perp. The following excerpts are from operas where the tenor is the killer, an unusual occurrence in an art form where tenors are usually the good guys. First Verdi’s Luisa Miller. The following description is adapted…


Read the full entry

Maria Stuarda Not in HD

Today was to be the final HD telecast of the Met’s 2019-20 season. But the company is as closed as an open mind. To compensate the Met broadcast, no TV, a 2013 performance of the opera that was to have been on had not the virus paralyzed the world. Maria Stuarda was Donizetti’s 100,345th opera…


Read the full entry

Finale 23 – Otello Act 3

I’ve previously written about this finale, but it’s so good that I thought I’d post another version of it to compliment the three posted in June 2018. The great concertatos that fill Verdi’s operas return in a spectacular conclusion to Act 3 of Verdi’s Otello. Though Verdi’s great ensembles are glorious and unsurpassed, they had…


Read the full entry

Opera Interludes

My subject is the instrumental music that occurs during a scene or between two. Excluded are overtures, preludes, and ballet music. Sometimes the distinction between an interlude or intermezzo and a prelude can be precious, but if the music below is called an interlude, an intermezzo, or in one case a meditation I accepted it…


Read the full entry

Church Scenes

I recently wrote about the last few minutes of the first act of Tosca, which is set in a church – Sant’Andrea della Valle. There are other operas which have scenes in a church or houses of worship, five are presented below. Giacomo Meyerbeer was a German composer who tried to follow the style of…


Read the full entry

Scarpia Sings Again

Baritones are rarely heroes in opera. But they usually have at least one redeeming characteristic. Rigoletto loves his daughter, Macbeth accepts his fate with manly resignation, etc. Iago in Verdi’s Otello is 100% villain. There’s nothing remotely good about him. He’s the devil’s spawn.  Puccini isn’t as generous to baritones as was Verdi. But he…


Read the full entry

Chamber Music By Opera Composers

Most opera composers are specialists. There are only four greats who are equally noted for both operatic and instrumental music – Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, and Strauss. Chamber music is defined as: “Instrumental music played by a small ensemble, with one player to a part, the most important form being the string quartet which developed in…


Read the full entry

Recondita Armonia

Tosca has two great tenor arias. Everyone knows the third act’s ‘E lucevan le stelle’. ‘Recondita armonia’, the subject of this article, appears in the first act only minutes after the show has started. It requires a different approach from its more famous brother. It needs a full voiced sound without the filatura and pianissimo…


Read the full entry

Finale 22 – Die Walküre

The end of the last act of Wagner’s second Ring opera reaches such an exalted level of artistic achievement that one is almost ready to overlook the awfulness of the personality that created it. No conductor since the beginning of the recording era interpreted Wagner’s music with the skill and insight that was displayed by…


Read the full entry

Agrippina in HD

Handel’s Agrippina was telecast throughout the world yesterday. Written in 1709 it now holds the record as the oldest opera to be performed by the Met. Though an opera seria, it is more like an opera buffa. It lampoons the politics surrounding the Emperor Claudius. Agrippina was his fourth and final wife. She murdered him, along…


Read the full entry

Categories