Favourite contemporary opera?

Started by KevinP, August 18, 2022, 03:41:28 PM

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KevinP

Let's say...after 1981, the year of Barber's passing. This is somewhat arbitrary, and if you want name something a little earlier, the Thread Topic Police will leave you be. But the intention of this thread is opera in a post-Barber/Britten/Shostakovich world.

Asking because, while I know some recentish opera and I'm in no way against contemporary music, it's still a bit of a blind spot for me, and I'd like to address this.

The composer I'm mostly familiar with is Anthony Davis as I have his X, Amistad and Tania (as well as some non-opera recordings).


Tsaraslondon

I have to be honest and say I've only heard bits, but some of John Adams's operas have entered the repertoire - Nixon in China and the Death of Klinghoffer, to name but two.

I don't know that many contemporary operas, but I used to have on video the Met premiere of John Corigliano's Ghosts of Versaille (1991) and I really liked it. I don't think it's ever been transferred to DVD (or at least I could never find one) but it had a stellar cast, including Teresa Stratas, Håkan Hagegård, Renée Fleming, Gino Quilico and Marilyn Horne. It's also been staged in Los Angeles and at the Glimmerglass Festival in a co-production with Chateau de Versailles Spectacles.



Another one I like, though the critics were a bit sniffy about it, is Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, which was recorded and filmed at its San Francisco premiere (starring Renée Fleming). I was privileged to perform in the opera when it was given in a semi-staged performance, given by the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in London in 2003. Previn conducted and Fleming, Rodney Gilfry and Anthony Dean Griffey all repeated their roles from the San Francisco production.

 


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

k a rl h e nn i ng

Quote from: KevinP on August 18, 2022, 03:41:28 PM
Let's say...after 1981, the year of Barber's passing. This is somewhat arbitrary, and if you want name something a little earlier, the Thread Topic Police will leave you be. But the intention of this thread is opera in a post-Barber/Britten/Shostakovich world.

Asking because, while I know some recentish opera and I'm in no way against contemporary music, it's still a bit of a blind spot for me, and I'd like to address this.

The composer I'm mostly familiar with is Anthony Davis as I have his X, Amistad and Tania (as well as some non-opera recordings).



Charles Wuorinen, Brokeback Mountain. Disclosure: I'm a former student of Charles's. I also need to seek out a production of Haroun and the Sea of Stories, libretto after Salman Rushdie.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

KevinP

Quote from: Tsaraslondon on August 19, 2022, 07:29:25 AM
I used to have on video the Met premiere of John Corigliano's Ghosts of Versaille (1991)

I have a CD of it. I like it, but I haven't given it the follow-along-with-the-libretto treatment yet.

Quote from: Tsaraslondon on August 19, 2022, 07:29:25 AMAnother one I like, though the critics were a bit sniffy about it, is Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, which was recorded and filmed at its San Francisco premiere (starring Renée Fleming). I was privileged to perform in the opera when it was given in a semi-staged performance, given by the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in London in 2003. Previn conducted and Fleming, Rodney Gilfry and Anthony Dean Griffey all repeated their roles from the San Francisco production.

Nice! And come to think of it, I believe I have a recording. It's not one that I bought deliberately nor one stored on my opera shelf, but it came in some mega box set and kind of got forgotten about.

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 19, 2022, 08:46:57 AM
Charles Wuorinen, Brokeback Mountain. Disclosure: I'm a former student of Charles's.

While I've not heard it, I was eying it recently. I think it's even in my Amazon basket.

And the music of our former mentors certainly influences us in ways others might miss, doesn't it?

---
Back to other contemporary opera: I picked up John Adams' 'I was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky', but this was mainly because I was reading the poetry of June Jordan, and the notes said she had written a libretto, so I looked it up and bought it.

JBS

The Glimmerglass production of Ghosts of Versailles is available on DVD.


Frankly, I've seen/heard so little contemporary opera that I can't suggest much.

I did catch part of the Met's broadcast of. Glass's Akhnaten, and was impressed by what I saw. In this case the visual element is important enough that the DVD would be needed.

This one tempts me because of the singers involved, but I haven't heard a note of it so I am not actually recommending it.

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

T. D.

I don't buy many opera recordings any more.
For what it's worth...

I'm a big fan of Robert Ashley, but I'm not sure that's exactly what you're looking for, and parts of my favorite work (Perfect Lives) predate 1981.

I fairly recently bought a recording of Anthony Braxton's Trillium R and was surprised by how good it is. Part of a big series (Braxton, after all  :D), I got that particular volume for price reasons, but may spring for others (three can be heard in their entirety gratis at the bandcamp site). Enjoyed it much more than Davis's X. I'm a moderate but not unqualified Braxton fan and own relatively few of his numerous (to put it mildly) recordings.

Also like York Höller's Der Meister und Margarita, but I'd reflexively buy any recording based on the Bulgakov novel.

Wendell_E

Quote from: Tsaraslondon on August 19, 2022, 07:29:25 AM
I don't know that many contemporary operas, but I used to have on video the Met premiere of John Corigliano's Ghosts of Versaille (1991) and I really liked it. I don't think it's ever been transferred to DVD (or at least I could never find one) but it had a stellar cast, including Teresa Stratas, Håkan Hagegård, Renée Fleming, Gino Quilico and Marilyn Horne. It's also been staged in Los Angeles and at the Glimmerglass Festival in a co-production with Chateau de Versailles Spectacles.





Actually, that's a picture of the DVD release, part of a set the Met released for Levine's 40th anniversary with the company. Some were available separately, but I think it's essentially out of print, so most copies I find are outrageously expensive.

I like John Adam's operas, especially the first, Nixon in China. Glass's Akhnaten and Satyagraha. I thought Thomas Adès's first opera, Powder Her Face, was wonderful. His later ones, The Tempest and The Exterminating Angel, aren't without interest, but I was a bit disappointed.
"Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." ― Mark Twain

Tsaraslondon

Quote from: Wendell_E on August 20, 2022, 12:46:30 AM
Actually, that's a picture of the DVD release, part of a set the Met released for Levine's 40th anniversary with the company. Some were available separately, but I think it's essentially out of print, so most copies I find are outrageously expensive.



I'm not sure any of those Levine 40th anniversary issues were readily available outside the US. I've never seen any of them over here in the UK. I really wanted the CD issue of Les Troyens with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, but by the time I came across it, it too was ludicrously expensive.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Brewski

(To suggest a wide range of styles)

Another vote for the two Glass operas (seen at the Met), and I am often ambivalent about his work. Powder Her Face was remarkably touching, including the much-discussed sex scene. And A Streetcar Named Desire definitely has moments.

George Benjamin's works are quite interesting: Written on Skin, Lessons in Love and Violence, and Into the Little Hill -- all worth hearing. The latter is a one-act piece, based on The Pied Piper, and quite creepy.

The Handmaid's Tale (Poul Ruders) was the first opera I ever wrote about. It's great, but the subject matter is terrifying -- which is probably why it doesn't seem to be produced much.

And I've seen The Grapes of Wrath (Ricky Ian Gordon) several times, and it holds up very well.

--Bruce
"I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts."

- Alfred Schnittke

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Todd







I have reason to believe that Huang Ruo's An American Soldier is worth hearing and I will do so at some point.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

People would rather believe than know - E.O. Wilson

The dollar is our currency, but it's your problem - US Treasury Secretary John Connally to European Finance Ministers, 1971

springrite

The one I am recommending is a work that I not only went to the premiere, but went to 4 performances in a row. It is:

Kullervo by Sallinen.

I have the CD and I can almost sing along much of it (no, I don't know Finnish, so maybe I should say hum...) I have not seen a DVD, though.

Do what I must do, and let what must happen happen.