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Opera n stuff?

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So is opera like just some kind of different world to other classical music? Ever since I started going on music forums like this one it seems as if opera has its own fans and devotees and most people either avoid it, don't listen to very much, or are committed for life to opera and only (or almost only) opera.

I'm interested to hear from those who don't have a huge interest in opera as to what you like and don't like about it, and particularly what operas you have listened to  to form your opinions about it and what you like/don't like about them. :)

XB-70 Valkyrie:
It's a very interesting question, and I have wondered for years:

What percentage of "classical music lovers" would also identify as "opera lovers"?

As for me, I first became really interested in classical music in my late teens (late 1980s), and I quickly found Verdi. I used to listen to Aida, and, in later years, La Traviata, and Don Carlos quite a lot. I also really loved Bellini's Norma, Rossini's Barber of Seville, and Mozart's Cosi fan Tutti and Marriage of Figaro, and Handel's Julius Caesar.

I never liked Puccini--sure, he wrote some beautiful arias, but for me, the operas overall lack much musical interest. I also dislike excessive sentimentality in music. Hence, I am not a fan of verismo in general. For reasons I am not clear on, I could never get into Don Giovanni, Zauberflöte, or much Wagner other than Lohengrin.

I have gone through at least three or four major opera periods since the late 80s, but the latest one for me was a Lohengrin phase in the mid-2000s. Since then, I have listened to very little opera.

For one thing, I have become increasingly interested in Bach's music, baroque and earlier periods, and the pipe organ. I have lost the attention span to listen to opera, when I always ask myself, "Would not this time be better spent listening to Bach?"

Also--and this is the main point I suppose--I am very little interested in an opera's plot, the libretto, the characters, the setting, or the costumes. I am not a fan of the theater in general.

As for watching a play (or even a movie), I would much rather go to a museum and sit in front of a Mark Rothko for an hour, or go to the beach, or look at a tree, or do some photography. The operas I like (liked) were almost entirely for musical reasons.

Mirror Image:

--- Quote from: jessop on April 30, 2017, 02:39:18 PM ---I'm interested to hear from those who don't have a huge interest in opera as to what you like and don't like about it, and particularly what operas you have listened to  to form your opinions about it and what you like/don't like about them. :)
--- End quote ---

I think it’s just the medium itself that I’m not particularly attracted to. I do like vocal music, but opera is just hard to stomach for me because most of the time I’m not remotely interested in the plot or what’s happening onstage. Also, the singing just is too in-your-face for me most of the time. It does seem to always boils down to the music for me, though, and 9 out of 10 times I feel like the vocals get in the way of everything because I don’t actually feel much of a musical narrative happening. There are, of course, exceptions to this as Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle has always been one of my absolute favorite pieces of music. I suppose one reason it is is because the the action onstage is quite static and it’s more of a psychological journey, which, for whatever reason, appeals to me more than having 10 different characters singing singing 10 different parts. But, also, this particular work from Bartók is more symphonic in scope than operatic, so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it as well. There are several other operas I love like Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortilèges, Szymanowski’s Król Roger, and Janáček’s Káťa Kabanová, but, overall, the genre has never garnered much interest from me.

It´s less than 5 % of my listening that is opera, in spite of having maybe 150 of them. Other vocal works get more of my listening time. But I must say that when I really get to know an opera, things can change, & listening a lot to the same piece occurs then.

To some extent, it´s simply a process of learning the many, often complicated vocal parts as melodic and/or instrumental lines as well, and their interplay with those of the orchestra. Somehow this requires more abstraction than say if it was a concertante cello, IMO. In fact, I´d like to hear some operas as copied piano concertos for example, to get that dimension 8) Janacek is illustrative as a tough nut to crack in that respect, which I suspect in the long run will be very rewarding. But generally I prefer varied operas with developed, orchestral parts and interludes, rather than those with a lot of recitatives, dialogues, or relentless singing.

And of course there are also the somewhat off-putting examples of wobbling sopranos, or too much um-pa-pa in Italian operas, a different singing style and voice ideal in Eastern Europe, etc.

some guy:
I don't think of myself as a symphony fan or a ballet fan or a concerto fan or a string quartet fan. So, similarly, I don't think of myself as an opera fan.

Some of my favorite music is for opera, some is for ballet, some is for string quartet, and so forth.

Before I found some operas that I liked, Janáček's, I felt like many people feel, that opera was a separate thing, requiring different listening skills, with limited appeal. Now I think of operas the same way I think of string septets or tone poems or masses, pieces of music. Some of them I like, some of them I don't, just like with symphonies or concertos.

I suppose the only allure for me that's different for opera is that operas do tend to be longish. And if I want to have a lot of Berlioz, say, all at once, then Benvenuto Cellini or Les Troyens or Béatrice et Bénédict really hit the spot. Of course, he's also got some fairly sizeable pieces that aren't operas, too. So that's nice. For me. The more Berlioz, the better.


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