Author Topic: Favorite Operas of the Past Century  (Read 18879 times)

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Kullervo

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2007, 07:32:03 PM »
Shostakovich's The Nose. Stupendous work...criminally neglected!

As a fan of Gogol this interests me.

Quote



And if you've ever wondered what kind of opera Rimsky-Korsakov might have sired under the influence of Berg, there's his 1902 Kashchey the Immortal. Here, Rimsky plays down his trademark plushness and makes good use of fin de siècle novelty. Jutting angles, stripped-down lines, etc...yet in keeping with a typically Rimsky framework. It's an admirable attempt by an 'old schooler' to try out 'new order' waters...

Wow, always thought of him as an ultra-conservative. Thanks!
« Last Edit: July 26, 2007, 07:50:16 PM by Kullervo »

Offline grandma

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2007, 07:34:25 PM »
A fine list of works so far. Here are a few that languish out of the limelight but could use a little exposure:

Poulenc's La Voix Humaine. As harrowing as it gets - with just one character!! But count your blessings that's all there are!





Shostakovich's The Nose. Stupendous work...criminally neglected!





And if you've ever wondered what kind of opera Rimsky-Korsakov might have sired under the influence of Berg, there's his 1902 Kashchey the Immortal. Here, Rimsky plays down his trademark plushness and makes good use of fin de siècle novelty. Jutting angles, stripped-down lines, etc...yet in keeping with a typically Rimsky framework. It's an admirable attempt by an 'old schooler' to try out 'new order' waters...




I saw La Voix Humaine.  Hard to believe one person can draw another into the drama as happened in this opera.

Offline grandma

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2007, 07:38:50 PM »
I know of an online source for the libretto of The Nose.  Will post it tomorrow after I find the address.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2007, 08:00:19 PM »
As a fan of Gogol this interests me.

The music to The Nose is very attractive and punchy. Quite exploratory in Shostakovich's best "pre-crackdown" manner. Unfortunately, as far as the libretto, it's so far given me the slip. Neither recording I have (Rozhdestvensky on LP and Jordan on CD) saw fit to include one! >:(

But wouldn't expect Shostakovich to use subpar material, here...

Quote
Wow, always thought of him as an ultra-conservative. Thanks!

There's still a bit of the old Rimsky in this work but he spreads his wings like never before.

Got to hand it to him... 

Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2007, 08:02:12 PM »
I know of an online source for the libretto of The Nose.  Will post it tomorrow after I find the address.

That's the best news I've heard all day!!

Thanks! :) :)



Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline bricon

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2007, 11:40:47 PM »

Offline val

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #26 on: July 26, 2007, 11:41:06 PM »
I suggest some of my favorites:

Richard Strauss: Elektra / Capriccio

Puccini: Turandot / Gianni Schichi

Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande

Ravel: L'Heure Espagnole

Schönberg: Moses und Aaron

Alban Berg: Wozzeck

Enescu: Oedipe

Szimanowski: King Roger

Hindemith: Cardillac

Prokofiev: The Fiery Angel

Bartok: The Bluebeard Castle

Britten: Peter Grimes / The turn of the screw

Zimmermann: Die Soldaten

Offline Maciek

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #27 on: July 27, 2007, 12:40:19 PM »
I'd like to second these two:

1.
Nyman: The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. This is another minimalist favorite, a short chamber opera for a small number of performers. From the opening speech "Neurology's favorite term is: deficit.." to my favorite moments in the middle (where the first case of the musician mistaking his wife for a hat is mentioned) the story as well as the music is strangely touching and also feels very relevant to modern life somehow.

And I second the description too! Reads like something I would have written had I discovered this thread earlier.

2.
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Szymanowski: King Roger. A complex and deep work, I must revisit it a lot more to get a better feeling, but the first time through was very interesting.

Any list of essential 20th century opera not containing King Roger is simply flawed. And, BTW, the opera is short too! ;D



Also, I'd like to put in a good word for Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti.

You might also like to try Lokys by Bronius Kutavičius (Lithuanian contemporary composer). I'd say the mood of the music is pretty much similar to Nyman, though the material is dervied from folklore.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2007, 12:43:55 PM by Maciek »

Offline jurajjak

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #28 on: July 27, 2007, 05:59:41 PM »
Thank you for the libretto of THE NOSE--I have 2 recordings of the music but not the words.

Some other worthwhile 20th c. operas not yet mentioned:

Holst: Savitri (extraordinary 1-act chamber opera)
Britten: Turn of the Screw
Britten: Billy Budd
Penderecki: Devils of Loudon
Dukas: Ariane & Bluebeard
Prokofiev: Fiery Angel
Prokofiev: The Gambler
Stravinsky: Mavra
Tippett: King Priam
(among many others...)

Hindemith's one-act short operas of the 20s are also worth checking out--very progressive for their time.

Is anyone familiar with Antheil's operas?  I've been looking for Transatlantic and (the apparently rare) Volpone.  I've also been looking for a full recording of Holst's The Perfect Fool, but I'm not aware a recording exists.


Andrew

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #29 on: July 27, 2007, 08:13:55 PM »
Does anyone know about Britten's "Gloriana"--seen or heard it? It was written around the coronation of Elizabeth II. She was apparently expecting something more cheerful back in the early 50's, not her namesake's misdeeds, so it didn't really catch on with the public either.

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Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2007, 09:16:05 PM »
Most of my favourite ones have been mentioned, but I will give another vote for Peter Grimes, ultra dramatic and absorbing as well as having such first rate and memorable music in it. Savitri also in its miniature perfection is a beaut. It has only three characters and lasts about 40 minutes. Pared down and spare, it is haunting.

We seem to forget that Puccini was 20th Century, of his work Tosca is my favourite. Although his composition possibly seems old fashioned it falls into the category and he was a great dramatist with a facility for melody.

Elektra is another favourite, I really enjoy the savagery, its relentlessness and the musical language is sophisticated and complex. It is a pity that Strauss retreated from this avenue of his soundworld.

I am currently listening on headphones to King Roger, (it is early in the morning here, don't want to alarm the whole block of flats), what an exotic score. For anyone feeling it likely to be one long recit, it has plenty of melody packed into it. As Maciek points out, it is another rather short opera.

Finally Stravinsky's Rakes Progress. He was in his spiky neoclassical phase. What once seemed to me as demanding and difficult music is now welcome friend. What a great piece it is.

Mike
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #31 on: July 29, 2007, 07:58:58 PM »
I strongly recommend Zimmermann - Die Soldaten to anyone who enjoys Berg's two. There's a superb DVD of it which probably sells for less than the older CD. I'll leave all the obvious ones unsaid (Bluebeard, Vixen, Grimes, etc).

Two more with good productions readily available on DVD: Schreker - Die Gezeichneten and Korngold - Die Tote Stadt. Both are warmly romantic in a Straussian kind of way.
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Kullervo

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #32 on: July 30, 2007, 03:34:15 AM »
Lots of great recommendations here. Thanks, everyone.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #33 on: July 30, 2007, 07:19:30 AM »
From the past 100 years, these would be some of my favourites

Puccini: La Fanciulla del West (1911)
R Struass: Der Rosenkavalier (1911)
Ravel: L'Heure Espagnole (1911)
Monemezzi: L'Amore dei tre Re (1913)
R Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos (1912/1916)
Bartok: Duke Bluebeard's Castle (1918)
Puccini: Il Trittico (1918)
R Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919)
Korngold: Die tote Stadt (1920)
Janacek: Katya Kabanova (1921)
Ravel: L'Enfant et les Sortileges (1925)
Puccini: Turandot (1926)
Janacek: Vec Makropoulos (1926)
R Strauss: Arabella (1933)
Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1934)
Gershwin: Porgy and Bess (1935)
R Strauss: Capriccio (1942)
Britten: Peter Grimes (1945)
Prokoviev: War and Peace (1945)
Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress (1951)
Britten: Billy Budd (1951)
Britten: The Turn of the Screw (1954)
Poulenc: Les dialogues des Carmelites (1957)
Barber: Vanessa (1958)
Britten: A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960)
Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles (1991)
Previn: A Streetcar Named Desire (1998)

It will be noted that only 5 of the operas on this list of 27 were written in the last 50 years. Where have all the opera composers gone?
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Brewski

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #34 on: July 30, 2007, 07:30:55 AM »
Slightly off-topic: Tsaras, is there a site that has operas arranged chronologically that helped you make that nice-looking list?

Happy to see that someone else likes the Previn.  I'm not his biggest fan, but I think he did an excellent job with Streetcar.

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karlhenning

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #35 on: July 30, 2007, 07:35:37 AM »
  Wagner- Der Ring des Nibelungen, Tristan und Isolde, Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Parsifal
  Verdi- Otello, Aida, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Flastaff, Il Trovatore, Don Carlo
  Mozart- Don Giovanni, Nozze Di Figaro, Zauberflote, Cosi fan Tutte
  R. Strauss- Elektra, Salome, Der Rosenkavelier, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Frau ohne Schatten
  Berg- Wozzeck, Lulu
  Puccini- La Boheme, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Turandot, La Rondine
  Bizet- Carmen
  Gonoud- Faust
  Berlioz- Les Troyens

  If you start sampling these I believe you will be on the right track.

No, Marvin, profoundly the wrong track for "Favorite Operas of the Past Century."  Sorry, chap, you really missed the memo on this one  ;)

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #36 on: July 30, 2007, 07:44:30 AM »
Slightly off-topic: Tsaras, is there a site that has operas arranged chronologically that helped you make that nice-looking list?

Happy to see that someone else likes the Previn.  I'm not his biggest fan, but I think he did an excellent job with Streetcar.

--Bruce

I have a book (The Phaidon Book of Opera) that lists almost every opera ever written in chronological order, so that kind of helped!

I may be slightly biased about the Prevein, because I was in the semi-staged British premiere of the work given by the LSO, which Previn conducted with substantially the same cast as its San Francisco premiere. Naturally I got to know the work pretty well. Many of the critics hated it, finding it old fashioned. For my part, I was delighted to find a modern opera with tunes. Blanche's final aria, in particular, is sublimely beautiful.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Brewski

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #37 on: July 30, 2007, 08:30:29 AM »
I have a book (The Phaidon Book of Opera) that lists almost every opera ever written in chronological order, so that kind of helped!

I may be slightly biased about the Prevein, because I was in the semi-staged British premiere of the work given by the LSO, which Previn conducted with substantially the same cast as its San Francisco premiere. Naturally I got to know the work pretty well. Many of the critics hated it, finding it old fashioned. For my part, I was delighted to find a modern opera with tunes. Blanche's final aria, in particular, is sublimely beautiful.

Thanks for mentioning the Phaidon, which I'll have to get. 

And I forgot...I believe you had mentioned elsewhere about being in Streetcar - how great! - and I totally agree with you about that aria given to Blanche.

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springrite

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #38 on: July 30, 2007, 08:36:57 AM »
My wife Vanessa was never into opera (except a few arias from Turandot, Butterfly, etc.), and definitely NOT into 20th century music, she watched Edipus Rex (Stravinsky) on DVD last night and loved it! In fact, she loved it so much she wanted to watch it again and again, 4 times in 2 days!

So, this is one opera I'd add to the many already mentioned.

Offline beclemund

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Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
« Reply #39 on: July 30, 2007, 09:32:48 AM »
Brilliant thread and great recommendations. :)
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