Author Topic: Underrated operas  (Read 5082 times)

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PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2019, 04:42:43 PM »
I ask, underrated by who and where? Some of these seem very well establised indeed. Pelleas, Boccenegra, Bluebeard. Others are very well appreciated in specific places. The Rimsky operas are often performed in Russia. In other parts of the world, I agree, they need more exposure. The Puccini and Cellini also do get regular performances.

Thais for example, has simply gone out of fashion. Having seen it, I am not surprised. The middle act is very good though.

The Sibelius is a Finnish opera, not Swedish. Sibelius was of Western Finnish stock, more dominated by Swedish culture than Eastern Finland. Swedish was his first language, but he considered himself very much a Finn. He was deeply involved with the Finnish Romantic movement, which was engaged in exploring a Finnish identity for its new nation as it emerged from the Swedish influences.

Mike
Of these three:

Weber: Euryanthe
Schumann: Genoveva
Wagner: Rienzi

i don't think I ever saw any major opera house stage Euryanthe, occasionally you see Oberon, which as silly as it is, seems lightyears ahead in terms of plot to Euryanthe. Occasionally you will see Genoveva, if only for reasons of historical interest more than anything really interesting. Rienzi is just a lot of hot air - the overture is awesome and some occasional good ensemble writing but overall pretty weak, by Wagner's lofty standards that is anyway.

There is no way Bluebeard's Castle is UNDERRATED as in seems to be a cornerstone of many opera houses, even considering it's rather unfamiliar language.

Offline mjmosca

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2020, 10:02:30 AM »
May I add four additional underrated operas, by Saint-Saens: Henry VIII, Etienne Marcel, Ascanio and Proserpine. Each is outstanding, Proserpine has some libretto issues, perhaps, but Henry VIII, Ascanio and Etienne Marcel would each be a great night at the opera, if properly cast. There alas, may be the rub! There are excellent recordings of Henry VIII and Etienne Marcel with Alain Fondary [pirated, I believe] and a good DVD performance of Henry VIII. Also, a recent release of Ascanio, superbly sung! Highly dramatic, individual works. Richly reward repeated listening.

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2020, 10:13:20 AM »
May I add four additional underrated operas, by Saint-Saens: Henry VIII, Etienne Marcel, Ascanio and Proserpine. Each is outstanding, Proserpine has some libretto issues, perhaps, but Henry VIII, Ascanio and Etienne Marcel would each be a great night at the opera, if properly cast. There alas, may be the rub! There are excellent recordings of Henry VIII and Etienne Marcel with Alain Fondary [pirated, I believe] and a good DVD performance of Henry VIII. Also, a recent release of Ascanio, superbly sung! Highly dramatic, individual works. Richly reward repeated listening.
Some very good suggestions. I agree wholeheartedly.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2020, 10:48:33 AM »
YMMV what counts as underrated.

German Opera:
Weber: Euryanthe
Schumann: Genoveva
Wagner: Rienzi
R. Strauss: Die Liebe der Danae

Italian opera:
Haydn: Lo speziale
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra
Puccini: La fanciulla del West

French opera:
Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini
Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande
Massenet: Thaïs
Saint-Saëns: Le timbre d'argent
Saint-Saëns: La princesse jaune

Russian opera:
Rachmaninoff: The Miserly Knight
Tchaikovsky: Cherevichki (Vakula the smith)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Golden Cockerel
Rimsky-Korsakov: Sadko
Rimsky-Korsakov: Snow Maiden
Rimsky-Korsakov: The Invisible City of Kitezh

Hungarian opera:

Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle

Swedish opera:

Sibelius: Jungfrun i tornet

How in the world is Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande underrated? I don’t understand your thinking here. This opera has inspired countless composers and still stands as a cornerstone of 20th Century opera. The same could be said, but, perhaps to a less degree, of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. I would like to hear your explanation for these two choices and what makes them candidates for being ‘underrated’.

My ’Top 3’ picks for most underrated operas:

Ravel: L'heure espagnole

While I certainly agree that L'enfant et les sortilèges is the operatic masterpiece of Ravel’s oeuvre, I feel that L’heure espagnole is inspired and noteworthy in its own right. There are many fantastic moments in this opera and, of course, the orchestral and vocal writing are typically Ravelian in their opulence.

Enescu: Oedipe

Ritter turned me onto this opera and when I finally sat down and listened to it, I agree with his high praise of it. This work, considered by many to be Enescu’s masterpiece, deserves more exposure than it’s currently getting.

Szymanowski: King Roger

My sentiments about this masterful opera are the same as Enescu’s Oedipe, I find it truly baffling this opera isn’t as well-known as it should be.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2020, 11:44:31 AM »
How in the world is Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande underrated? I don’t understand your thinking here. This opera has inspired countless composers and still stands as a cornerstone of 20th Century opera. The same could be said, but, perhaps to a less degree, of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. I would like to hear your explanation for these two choices and what makes them candidates for being ‘underrated’.

Just because I happen to have a different opinion than you do doesn't mean you have to interfere in so arrogant of a fashion with my opinion. I could similarly object to your NOT finding that one melody in Sibelius's symphony 5 artificial. Or your considering Majora's Mask one of the worst Zelda games ever.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #25 on: February 17, 2020, 11:53:38 AM »
Just because I happen to have a different opinion than you do doesn't mean you have to interfere in so arrogant of a fashion with my opinion. I could similarly object to your NOT finding that one melody in Sibelius's symphony 5 artificial. Or your considering Majora's Mask one of the worst Zelda games ever.

Interfere with your opinion? You gave an opinion, I questioned you as to why you felt the way you do and if you think I was being arrogant about it, I think you have the wrong impression. That was certainly not my intention. So by your logic, anyone can give an opinion, but no one is allowed to question it and get you to elaborate further as to why you feel the way you do?

FYI, I believe I explained my stance on Majora’s Mask (not sure why you even brought this up?). If I didn’t, I would be happy to tell you why I feel the way I do, which something I was trying to get you to do with those choices in underrated operas that I objected to, but I guess asking for a more detailed opinion is considered heresy by you.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2020, 11:59:50 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2020, 05:53:46 AM »
At least be consistent. You have several times leaved this Forum temporarily in a highly dramatic fashion because someone interfered with your opinion in a way which was not to your liking.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2020, 06:22:16 AM »
Vaughan Williams 'Riders to the Sea' and 'Pilgrim's Progress' are rarely performed but IMO amongst his greatest works. I have seen them both either complete or semi-staged live - great experiences.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Cato

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2020, 07:38:08 AM »
Murderer, The Hope of Women is Expressionist opera at its best, and today about as politically incorrect as you can get!  8)  Hindemith in the WW I era and afterward is the musical ancestor of Karl Amadeus Hartmann .

Cardillac is amazing!  The old Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau recording is not to be missed!

I had ordered Cardillac a few weeks agos at JPC, but for some reason that item was cancelled. I put it again in my cart today, as it’s still on their web site. Hopefully I’ll receive it in a few weeks !

Did it ever arrive?  8)





Szymanowski: King Roger

My sentiments about this masterful opera are the same as Enescu’s Oedipe, I find it truly baffling this opera isn’t as well-known as it should be.


Amen!

Thanks to YouTube:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/k3SGLFTEelY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/k3SGLFTEelY</a>

UPDATE: While listening to the marvelous opening for about 5 minutes, out of nowhere a commercial came on for an American presidential candidate, and then for soap or something! Possibly to clean up the candidate!   ;)

Anyway, be forewarned!
« Last Edit: February 18, 2020, 08:35:21 AM by Cato »
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Offline André

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #29 on: February 18, 2020, 07:44:49 AM »
Did it ever arrive?  8)



Amen!

Thanks to YouTube:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/k3SGLFTEelY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/k3SGLFTEelY</a>

Yes, a long time ago. It’s in the queue of some 20 new operas I intend to listen to this year  8)

Offline San Antone

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #30 on: February 18, 2020, 07:47:34 AM »
Einojuhani Rautavaara wrote seven:

    Kaivos (The Mine) (1957–1958/1960/1963)
    Apollo contra Marsyas (1970)
    The Myth of Sampo (1974/1982)
    Thomas (1982–1985)
    Vincent (1986–1987)
    The House of the Sun (Auringon talo), chamber opera (1989–1990)
    The Gift of the Magi (Tietäjien lahja), chamber opera (1993–1994)
    Aleksis Kivi (1995–1996)
    Rasputin (2001–2003)

I am not sure how well they are known or how often recorded/performed.  But from the three that are on Spotify, they are worth investigating.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #31 on: February 18, 2020, 08:18:17 AM »
At least be consistent. You have several times leaved this Forum temporarily in a highly dramatic fashion because someone interfered with your opinion in a way which was not to your liking.

What I find amusing is how you haven’t even bothered to acknowledge my questions. As for your own points about me, you don’t have any. I’m still waiting for a response on why you feel the Debussy and Bartok operas are underrated?
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #32 on: February 18, 2020, 08:31:22 AM »
What I find amusing is how you haven’t even bothered to acknowledge my questions. As for your own points about me, you don’t have any. I’m still waiting for a response on why you feel the Debussy and Bartok operas are underrated?

Because they are, at least in my country. Pelleas has been a couple of times recently in Finnish National Opera but on the very advertisement it is drawn attention to that it is performed way too rarely, at least not nearly as often as its high quality would merit which implies that at the very least it is not as popular as it should be. Bartok's work I am lucky if I ever see once in my life, although I would like to, very much.

Offline Cato

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #33 on: February 18, 2020, 08:34:47 AM »

Yes, a long time ago. It’s in the queue of some 20 new operas I intend to listen to this year  8)

Glad to hear it!  Push this one to the front!   :D



Thanks to YouTube:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/k3SGLFTEelY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/k3SGLFTEelY</a>


While listening to the marvelous opening for about 5 minutes, out of nowhere a commercial came on for an American presidential candidate, and then for soap or something! Possibly to clean up the candidate!   ;)

Anyway, be forewarned!
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Offline André

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #34 on: February 18, 2020, 08:44:50 AM »
Because they are, at least in my country. Pelleas has been a couple of times recently in Finnish National Opera but on the very advertisement it is drawn attention to that it is performed way too rarely, at least not nearly as often as its high quality would merit which implies that at the very least it is not as popular as it should be. Bartok's work I am lucky if I ever see once in my life, although I would like to, very much.

Regional (country) preferences and sensibilities play a role. A smaller country’s audience size makes it highly unlikely that rare operas ever get performed - the potential ticket sales don’t allow it, except for specific local cultural appeal. I don’t expect to see King Roger, Rautavaara’s The Mine or Dallapiccola’s The Prisoner in my lifetime here. But I would if I lived in Poland, Finland or Italy, respectively.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #35 on: February 18, 2020, 09:01:24 AM »
Because they are, at least in my country. Pelleas has been a couple of times recently in Finnish National Opera but on the very advertisement it is drawn attention to that it is performed way too rarely, at least not nearly as often as its high quality would merit which implies that at the very least it is not as popular as it should be. Bartok's work I am lucky if I ever see once in my life, although I would like to, very much.

Okay, well in the grand scope of these operas’ reputations and performance histories, I would say they’re not underrated at all --- far from it, actually. The impact of Debussy’s Pelléas was immense and inspired a whole generation of composers to look at opera through a post-Wagnerian lens. They may not be performed much in Finland, but outside of your bubble, I think you’re wrong in your estimation that these operas are underrated.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2020, 09:05:16 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline JBS

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #36 on: February 18, 2020, 10:09:18 AM »
Okay, well in the grand scope of these operas’ reputations and performance histories, I would say they’re not underrated at all --- far from it, actually. The impact of Debussy’s Pelléas was immense and inspired a whole generation of composers to look at opera through a post-Wagnerian lens. They may not be performed much in Finland, but outside of your bubble, I think you’re wrong in your estimation that these operas are underrated.

I think it's fair to say that Pelleas is underrated, or perhaps more precisely, used to be underrated: it used to be common to say that it was just Debussy's attempt to imitate Tristan und Isolde.

The topic is also complicated by the fact that there are often obvious trends in opera performance, so operas that used to be underrated come back into fashion. Sometimes whole categories of opera, such as bel canto.  Plus of course with DVDs and CDs, more and more operas are available to see or hear in the privacy of one's own home.  No need to depend on the local opera company to hear Bluebeard's Castle.

And frankly, some operas that might appear to be underrated deserve to be not highly rated.  The OP listed Thais.  I'd say that's an opera that can't be underrated, because it's not really that good to begin with. ::) [And in that list, I'm not sure some of the entries, like Simon Boccanegra and Fanciulla del West, were ever not highly rated.]

As candidates for underrated operas, I'd proffer Leoncavallo's Medici, and Strauss's Capriccio. 


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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #37 on: February 18, 2020, 11:23:40 AM »
I think it's fair to say that Pelleas is underrated, or perhaps more precisely, used to be underrated: it used to be common to say that it was just Debussy's attempt to imitate Tristan und Isolde.

I don’t agree. Pelléas is considered not only a masterpiece within Debussy’s oeuvre, but a masterpiece of the 20th Century. Frankly, I don’t understand how an opera that’s viewed with such high esteem and is name checked by so many composers, critics, historians, and listeners as being a defining moment in 20th Century music can be considered ‘underrated’. I just don’t buy that opinion as there’s no evidence that points me in this direction.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline JBS

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #38 on: February 18, 2020, 11:45:46 AM »
I don’t agree. Pelléas is considered not only a masterpiece within Debussy’s oeuvre, but a masterpiece of the 20th Century. Frankly, I don’t understand how an opera that’s viewed with such high esteem and is name checked by so many composers, critics, historians, and listeners as being a defining moment in 20th Century music can be considered ‘underrated’. I just don’t buy that opinion as there’s no evidence that points me in this direction.

Back in the 80s and 90s, when I first was exploring opera, it was a commonly expressed idea that Pelleas was really just Debussy's attempt at composing a French Tristan.  Its current stature is relatively new.

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Underrated operas
« Reply #39 on: February 18, 2020, 12:06:40 PM »
Back in the 80s and 90s, when I first was exploring opera, it was a commonly expressed idea that Pelleas was really just Debussy's attempt at composing a French Tristan.  Its current stature is relatively new.

It must be. Pelléas is especially notable for escaping Wagner’s influence (although not completely as he did use the idea of leitmotifs) and being an opera of originality and, for its’ time, a forward-thinking modernity. What was said about the opera negatively in the past is the same that was said negatively about Wagner’s operas during his lifetime. Times have changed and ears have grown with those times.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy