GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Opera and Vocal => Topic started by: Kullervo on July 26, 2007, 01:34:16 PM

Title: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on July 26, 2007, 01:34:16 PM
I've been meaning to get into opera, which is a major hole in my classical listening habits. For the longest time I avoided it simply because I disliked the sound of the soprano voice, but I have since been won over.
Of course, the obvious answer to the opera question is "Wagner." I've avoided Wagner for some time now, really because the sheer length of his operas is a bit off-putting. Lulu and Wozzeck have shown me that perhaps opera is for me after all, so I'd thought I'd start exploring other operas in a similar vein. So far, the ones I've added to my "list" are Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane, Krenek's Jonny Spielt Auf, and Busoni's Doktor Faust. Would anyone like to share their favorites from the past 100 years?
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Brewski on July 26, 2007, 01:54:32 PM
Do try Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle (1911), which is only an hour, or Richard Strauss' Salome, which is about 90 minutes, although from 1905, it doesn't quite make your time cut!

The two-character Bartók is my favorite opera, and the Strauss is not far behind.  The latter has one of the most blazing, difficult final scenes of anything, anywhere, and is often lifted out as a concert showpiece for soprano and orchestra.

The three other choices you mention are excellent: imaginative, and from composers quite different from each other, so they would give you a very good survey.  I would also explore at least one opera by Janáček, such as Káťa Kabanová (1921) or The Cunning Little Vixen (1924) -- any of them, really! -- just to see if you like his language.  Same thing for virtually any of Britten's operas.  My favorite is probably Peter Grimes (1945) but again, many of them are marvelous.

For things written more recently, you might try Ligeti's Le Grande Macabre (1975-77, revised version 1996), just because it's so wild, and again, who knows?  You might totally love it.  :D

--Bruce
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Solitary Wanderer on July 26, 2007, 02:16:13 PM
I've been meaning to get into opera, which is a major hole in my classical listening habits. For the longest time I avoided it simply because I disliked the sound of the soprano voice, but I have since been won over.
Of course, the obvious answer to the opera question is "Wagner." I've avoided Wagner for some time now, really because the sheer length of his operas is a bit off-putting. Lulu and Wozzeck have shown me that perhaps opera is for me after all, so I'd thought I'd start exploring other operas in a similar vein. So far, the ones I've added to my "list" are Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane, Krenek's Jonny Spielt Auf, and Busoni's Doktor Faust. Would anyone like to share their favorites from the past 100 years?

I'm watching the Ring Cycle at the moment one Act at a time. So its about 1 hour per evening so its quite palatable. My wife was intimidated by the length but is enjoying this approach :)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on July 26, 2007, 02:16:31 PM
Do try Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle (1911), which is only an hour, or Richard Strauss' Salome, which is about 90 minutes, although from 1905, it doesn't quite make your time cut!

The two-character Bartók is my favorite opera, and the Strauss is not far behind.  The latter has one of the most blazing, difficult final scenes of anything, anywhere, and is often lifted out as a concert showpiece for soprano and orchestra.

The three other choices you mention are excellent: imaginative, and from composers quite different from each other, so they would give you a very good survey.  I would also explore at least one opera by Janáček, such as Káťa Kabanová (1921) or The Cunning Little Vixen (1924) -- any of them, really! -- just to see if you like his language.  Same thing for virtually any of Britten's operas.  My favorite is probably Peter Grimes (1945) but again, many of them are marvelous.

For things written more recently, you might try Ligeti's Le Grande Macabre (1975-77, revised version 1996), just because it's so wild, and again, who knows?  You might totally love it.  :D

--Bruce


Maybe I should change the title to "Favorite Operas 1900-Now"
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Brewski on July 26, 2007, 02:19:46 PM
Maybe I should change the title to "Favorite Operas 1900-Now"

Nah...I mean, if you want to, fine, but I don't think the current title will inhibit anyone from giving you lots of suggestions!  :D

--Bruce
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Brewski on July 26, 2007, 02:22:06 PM
I'm watching the Ring Cycle at the moment one Act at a time. So its about 1 hour per evening so its quite palatable. My wife was intimidated by the length but is enjoying this approach :)

That's very good advice.  Plus...Das Rheingold, the first one, is considerably shorter (2-1/2 hours) than the other three (about 5-1/2 hours each), so it might be a good way to stick your toe in.

Edit: almost forgot about Philip Glass.  I'm not a huge fan of his work, but he's written a lot of operas, listed on his (very good) website, here. (http://www.philipglass.com/music/compositions/category/index_compositions_opera.php)  Definitely try one to see what you think.  The ones that seem to come up most often are Akhnaten and Satyagraha.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Solitary Wanderer on July 26, 2007, 02:29:44 PM
That's very good advice.  Plus...Das Rheingold, the first one, is considerably shorter (2-1/2 hours) than the other three (about 5-1/2 hours each), so it might be a good way to stick your toe in.

Edit: almost forgot about Philip Glass.  I'm not a huge fan of his work, but he's written a lot of operas, listed on his (very good) website, here. (http://www.philipglass.com/music/compositions/category/index_compositions_opera.php)  Definitely try one to see what you think.  The ones that seem to come up most often are Akhnaten and Satyagraha.

--Bruce

Yeah Das Rheingold is technically one Act but four scenes so we watched two scenes per night. The next three music dramas are three Acts each I think.

As for modern operas how about that one the Pink Floyd guy did? Roger Waters Ca Ira :)

Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Brewski on July 26, 2007, 02:34:40 PM
I haven't heard it, nor much about it, but I do like Bryn Terfel and Paul Groves a lot...

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c9/Roger_Waters-%C3%87a_Ira.jpg)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Solitary Wanderer on July 26, 2007, 02:39:34 PM
I haven't heard it, nor much about it, but I do like Bryn Terfel and Paul Groves a lot...

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c9/Roger_Waters-%C3%87a_Ira.jpg)

--Bruce

Yeah, I am curious about this one. It may be a bit more acessible for a 'newbie'.

But then again a 'rock' guy writing an opera...? ???
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on July 26, 2007, 02:41:50 PM
Yeah, I am curious about this one. It may be a bit more acessible for a 'newbie'.

But then again a 'rock' guy writing an opera...? ???

Probably not for me, but thanks anyway.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Brewski on July 26, 2007, 02:44:01 PM
Here are two interesting Amazon lists of 20th-century operas.  I have no idea who the people are who suggested these, but there are some unusual choices:

http://www.amazon.com/20th-Century-Opera-Main-List/lm/19Y8QOWPEGVCJ
http://www.amazon.com/Hot-20th-Century-Opera/lm/MZ8YAB2SH6BE

--Bruce
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Solitary Wanderer on July 26, 2007, 02:46:39 PM
Here are two interesting Amazon lists of 20th-century operas.  I have no idea who the people are who suggested these, but there are some unusual choices:

http://www.amazon.com/20th-Century-Opera-Main-List/lm/19Y8QOWPEGVCJ
http://www.amazon.com/Hot-20th-Century-Opera/lm/MZ8YAB2SH6BE

--Bruce

Thanks for the lists.

I'm interested in the Benjamin Britten Operas like Peter Grimes and Billy Budd :)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Brewski on July 26, 2007, 02:53:06 PM
I'm interested in the Benjamin Britten Operas like Peter Grimes and Billy Budd :)

Some amazing music in both.  If you want to try out some of Grimes, the "Four Sea Interludes" are often pulled out for concerts and can be found on many recordings.  They are purely orchestral, and magnificent.  I believe it was Bogey here who was discussing Bernstein's last recording, which has a performance of them (with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7).  Here's what looks like a great one on Naxos, too:

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51APBSSCQ6L._AA240_.jpg)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Solitary Wanderer on July 26, 2007, 03:00:03 PM
Some amazing music in both.  If you want to try out some of Grimes, the "Four Sea Interludes" are often pulled out for concerts and can be found on many recordings.  They are purely orchestral, and magnificent.  I believe it was Bogey here who was discussing Bernstein's last recording, which has a performance of them (with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7).  Here's what looks like a great one on Naxos, too:

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51APBSSCQ6L._AA240_.jpg)

--Bruce

That looks like a perfect entry point. Thanks Bruce :)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: PSmith08 on July 26, 2007, 03:03:04 PM
I might say that Richard Strauss comes pretty close to being the greatest opera composer of the 20th century. Die Frau ohne Schatten and Ariadne auf Naxos are two particular favorites of mine, though Rosenkavalier, Salome, and Elektra deserve their respective dues. Of course, in my opinion, Strauss was one of the greatest composers for voice of the 20th century (up there, in my book, with Hugo Wolf and Gustav Mahler), as can be seen with the Vier letzte Lieder and the other Lieder.

Francis Poulenc undoubtedly deserves a spot on the list for Dialogues des Carmélites, which - all things considered - is a darned fine opera, if unconventional at times.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: grandma on July 26, 2007, 03:28:00 PM
Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtensk fits your time frame.  If you buy a DVD, best preview it as it has some graphic sex scenes in it.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on July 26, 2007, 03:49:16 PM
Here are two interesting Amazon lists of 20th-century operas.  I have no idea who the people are who suggested these, but there are some unusual choices:

http://www.amazon.com/20th-Century-Opera-Main-List/lm/19Y8QOWPEGVCJ
http://www.amazon.com/Hot-20th-Century-Opera/lm/MZ8YAB2SH6BE

--Bruce

Ahh, that scarecrow guy is nuts! He used to post as "Rachel," but now he posts as "Frank." He also has a wiki page (no doubt penned by himself) that says he's worked with Pierre Boulez, among others.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: S709 on July 26, 2007, 04:23:47 PM
Some of my favorites are:

Schnittke: Life with an Idiot. The music is crass, vulgar and harsh (as is the text!). From the opening chorus, to the first entry of the soloists and then the very ugly miniature-march which concludes with an even more hideous chord sets up the rest. And this is just the first minute. There is the little tango tune, the "arias" of the character "I" which consist of various combinations of "Ekh!", and the generally nasty atmosphere. And: it's also an anti-communist work.

Glass: Einstein on the Beach. I know you don't like this one Kullervo, but somehow I am always transfixed by it. It has a sort of feeling of repetitive, synthetic sophistication that is so like the modern world -- except for the little solo violin tune, which I find extremely beautiful, especially at the end when it accompanies the description of two lovers. I think this is a really important opera.

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. (Thanks to Sean for my copy!! :D )

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.

Vaughan Williams: The Pilgrim's Progress. A dreamy and wonderfully orchestrated musical journey... I haven't listened to this for a while, but it has a certain nostalgic 'foggy' quality and lyricism throughout.



Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: yashin on July 26, 2007, 07:06:33 PM
A nice thread.

Without doubt -you need to visit the Masters of the 20th Century - Namely Berg and Janacek.

I would doubt if you find either easy listening.  It took a while for me to get used to the sound of Wozzeck-when you have been listening to mainly French and Italian opera it is quite different.  It is like Wine, at first taste you don't always like-but your taste matures as you taste different things.

My choices would be:

Die Tote Stadt
Wozzeck
Lulu
Kat'a Kabanova
Jenufa
Peter Grimes
Billy Budd

I think any of these would be a good choice.  Amongst the best there is.  I could list any of them as my favourite opera.

All except the Britten operas i think are best visited in the opera house or on DVD.  Trying to get to grips with Berg on disc i always found problematic until i had actually watched it.  Then the recordings on CD make more sense.

Other interesting operas i have seen from the 20th century:

The Bassarids-by Hans Werner Henz - an opera set in ancient Greece.  I saw it with DNO -Netherlands and enjoyed it very much.

Tan Dun - Tea - again i saw this at the DNO-Netherlands.  I also have the DVD filmed i think in Japan.  An unusual sound but enjoyable.

Walton - Trolius and Cressida - saw this with Opera North (UK)

Merlin -Albeniz -supposed to be Wagnarian opera in English.  I have the DVD and it is quite hard work.

Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on July 26, 2007, 07:16:59 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!


(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00004SH9T.01._SS500_SCLZZZZZZZ_V1116044156_.jpg)


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


(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/412SS36GGDL._SS500_.jpg)


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 all in keeping with a typically Rimsky framework. It's an admirable attempt by an 'old schooler' to try out 'new order' waters...


(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/41rj-TVAT8L._SS500_.jpg)




Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo 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
(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/412SS36GGDL._SS500_.jpg)


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!
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: grandma 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!


(http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00004SH9T.01._SS500_SCLZZZZZZZ_V1116044156_.jpg)


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


(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/412SS36GGDL._SS500_.jpg)


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...


(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/41rj-TVAT8L._SS500_.jpg)

I saw La Voix Humaine.  Hard to believe one person can draw another into the drama as happened in this opera.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: grandma 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.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian 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... 

Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian 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! :) :)



Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: bricon on July 26, 2007, 11:40:47 PM
The Nose libretto (http://mrichter.com/opera/files/nose.htm)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: val 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
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Maciek 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.
Quote
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.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: jurajjak 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
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: zamyrabyrd 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.

ZB
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: knight66 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
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Lethevich 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.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on July 30, 2007, 03:34:15 AM
Lots of great recommendations here. Thanks, everyone.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Tsaraslondon 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?
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Brewski 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.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: karlhenning 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  ;)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Tsaraslondon 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.

Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Brewski 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.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: springrite 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.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: beclemund on July 30, 2007, 09:32:48 AM
Brilliant thread and great recommendations. :)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: The new erato on July 30, 2007, 09:59:21 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.
Your next listen should be Vanessa by Barber!
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: springrite on July 30, 2007, 10:02:19 AM
Your next listen should be Vanessa by Barber!

Yes! I have it on LP but no turntable.  So, the alternative turns out to be Madama Butterfly. Vanessa means butterfly, of course.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: The new erato on July 31, 2007, 12:54:43 AM
I could modify my list but do you really believe that the best operas are those written during the past 100 years only?

  marvin 

As you probabøy realize that is a nearly impossible question to answer. As one whose opera listening pr 80% consists of Baroque opera + 20th century opera, I can only say; "that depends upon what are your preferences".
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: The new erato on July 31, 2007, 01:09:37 AM
And BTW, in case nobody have mentioned Nielsen, it is high time somebody did. His "Maskarade" ifs a great comic opera with brilliant orchestration, and his "Saul og David" a powerful, biblical drama.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on July 31, 2007, 03:08:51 AM
  What I did not miss out on is that the person who created this thread said that he was meaning to get into opera (implying that he was a newbe) and then requested favorite operas of the past century.  Well I did suggest operas from the past century (R. Strauss, Berg, some Puccini) but I really hated the idea that this individual was going to listen to operas only dating back to 1907 and leave so many masterpieces unexplored. I wanted to broaden his horizons.......I could modify my list but do you really believe that the best operas are those written during the past 100 years only?

  marvin 

This individual is only going to use the 20th century as a jumping point for opera. I'm not going to neglect older works, I just wanted to explore 20th century opera first. However, I do appreciate your recommendations. :)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: karlhenning on July 31, 2007, 03:49:54 AM
. . . but I really hated the idea that this individual was going to listen to operas only dating back to 1907 and leave so many masterpieces unexplored.

Why the hate, Marvin?

I mean, suppose I start a thread, Suggestions for Music by Dutch Composers Please, and someone hates the idea that I am leaving so many masterpieces by French and Belgian composers unexplored?  He's missing the point, isn't he?

But of course, you've neatly demonstrated that in two or three 'pages', every thread becomes a thread about everything and about nothing  ;)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: karlhenning on July 31, 2007, 03:50:44 AM
  Ah yes how soon we forget Baroque operas.

Hey, and I think there are reasons for that forgetfulness  ;D
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: marvinbrown on July 31, 2007, 06:46:06 AM
Why the hate, Marvin?

I mean, suppose I start a thread, Suggestions for Music by Dutch Composers Please, and someone hates the idea that I am leaving so many masterpieces by French and Belgian composers unexplored?  He's missing the point, isn't he?

But of course, you've neatly demonstrated that in two or three 'pages', every thread becomes a thread about everything and about nothing  ;)

  Okay forget I said anything on this thread.....I have just removed all my posts.

  marvin
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 31, 2007, 08:09:10 AM
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.

ZB

Don't know how I missed your post til now, ZB. I saw an excellent English National Opera production of Gloriana years ago, with Sarah Walker in the title role. It was written for a soprano, so was probably a little too high for her, however I remember finding the opera and production mesmerising. I believe it is actually available on DVD. There is also an excellent CD with Dame Josephine Barstow as Elizabeth, and conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. The DVD with Barstow is of a filmed version, directed by Phyllida Law and conducted by Paul Daniel. I haven't seen the Barstow, but the DVD of the Sarah Walker version confirmed my high opinion of the stage production. It is quite a dark work, but also has some hauntingly lovely moments, like the lute songs for Essex. I like it enormously.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 03, 2007, 09:14:53 PM
Don't know how I missed your post til now, ZB. I saw an excellent English National Opera production of Gloriana years ago, with Sarah Walker in the title role. It was written for a soprano, so was probably a little too high for her, however I remember finding the opera and production mesmerising. I believe it is actually available on DVD. There is also an excellent CD with Dame Josephine Barstow as Elizabeth, and conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. The DVD with Barstow is of a filmed version, directed by Phyllida Law and conducted by Paul Daniel. I haven't seen the Barstow, but the DVD of the Sarah Walker version confirmed my high opinion of the stage production. It is quite a dark work, but also has some hauntingly lovely moments, like the lute songs for Essex. I like it enormously.


Thanks, Tsaras, you've whetted my curiosity about this work and more so this one minute morsel with Barstow: http://youtube.com/watch?v=S9yBoECDRbA

ZB
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Montpellier on August 04, 2007, 06:43:51 AM
Tippett wrote about 4 operas but I'd be loath to recommend them.   I think Midsummer Marriage was issued on CD by Lyrita.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 04, 2007, 02:48:05 PM
Thanks, Tsaras, you've whetted my curiosity about this work and more so this one minute morsel with Barstow: http://youtube.com/watch?v=S9yBoECDRbA

ZB

Thanks for that link, ZB. I've seen Barstow many times on stage, from roles as diverse as Violetta, and Salome right through to the older Heidi in Sondheim's Follies. She is a always a compelling stage performer, though I do wish her diction were clearer.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on August 09, 2007, 09:58:03 AM
 Listened to Das Wunder der Heliane last night... my head is still spinning. What an imaginative, lush work! The three hours went by so quickly!
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: pjme on August 09, 2007, 10:44:30 AM
(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51gqk8KUw4L._AA240_.jpg)

Luigi Dallapiccola's "Il prigioniero"     

A great work! From the opening scene of the mother ( really gripping) and the grand choral interludes to the eerily haunting "fratello" motif - the tragic end!

I mention again Ravel's l'Enfant et les sortilèges.

This afternoon I heard Albert Roussel's 'Padmâvati" on the radio ( Jean Martinon conducting BBC forces - ca 1968-1969) - an opulent,glittering score.

(http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/I/516XYiXpueL._AA240_.jpg) this version should still be available!

And I was deeply impressed by  by Klas Torstensson (January 16, 1951, Sweden) opera "The expedition" .

Torstensson’s compositions have been performed by orchestras, ensembles and soloists worldwide and presented on most major European new music festivals: Huddersfield, Ultima (Oslo), Steirischer Herbst (Graz), Wien Modern, Stockholm New Music, Nordic Music Days (Reykjavik/Malmö/Berlin), Gaudeamus (Amsterdam), Warsaw, Gaida (Vilnius), Festival van Vlaanderen (Belgium), Holland Festival (Amsterdam), GAS (Gothenburg), NYYD (Tallinn), Darmstadt, to name only a few. He was also featured composer at festivals such as Stockholm New Music 1999 (together with Mauricio Kagel and György Kurtág), Time of Music 2001, (Viitasaari, Finland), and Montréal-Nouvelles-Musiques 2003.

In 1991 Torstensson received the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize - the most prestigious composition prize in The Netherlands, in 1999 followed by the Stora Christ Johnson Priset, the major Swedish composition prize awarded by the Swedish Royal Music Academy. Torstensson’s opera The Expedition was a nominee for the Nordic Council Music Prize 2006, whereas the Intermezzo from the same opera received a recommendation by the jury of the International Rostrum of Composers in 1999.

Urban Songs for soprano Charlotte Riedijk, Ensemble Intercontemporain and computers - commissioned by Ircam, Paris -, was premiered in 1992, and was to be programmed for another two seasons by the same ensemble, as well as by many other European ensembles, such as Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt), Asko Ensemble (Amsterdam) and Kammar-ensembleN (Stockholm).
In 1994 Torstensson composed The Last Diary for reciting voice and large ensemble, based on the diaries of S.A. Andrées, leader of the tragic Arctic balloon expedition of 1897. The Last Diary has in the past decade also been translated into German - for performances in Vienna and Graz with H.K. Gruber in the role of Andrée - and Icelandic.
The same material served as a basic for his opera The Expedition (1994-1999) for soloists, orchestra and electronics, to a libretto written by the composer. The opera was premiered in concert form during the 1999 Holland Festival in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, in a performance conducted by Peter Eötvös. Performances followed in Germany, Sweden and Norway.From 1999 to 2002 Torstensson wrote a full-length cycle entitled Lantern Lectures. The cycle was a joint commission by Le Nouvel Ensemble Modern (Montréal), Asko Ensemble (Amsterdam), KammarensembleN (Stockholm) and Klangforum Wien. Over the past years Lantern Lectures has been performed some thirty times, by seven ensembles in thirteen countries.

The work has been issued on CD - but I don't know if it is still available.

Read more at http://www.donemus.nl/componist.php?id=18
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on August 09, 2007, 10:57:51 AM
Nice recommendations, I've been meaning to hear Dallapiccola for some time now.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Anne on November 13, 2007, 08:43:58 AM
I'll add my voice to others recommending Britten's Peter Grimes.  Get the one with John Vickers and Heather Harper.  This performance is also available in DVD which is very worthwhile.  When you listen, notice how the style of music changes from that of the townspeople to that of Peter and Heather.

Britten's Billy Budd is very good also.  It has a gorgeous aria sung by Billy the night before his execution.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on November 13, 2007, 08:47:54 AM
I'll add my voice to others recommending Britten's Peter Grimes.  Get the one with John Vickers and Heather Harper.  This performance is also available in DVD which is very worthwhile.  When you listen, notice how the style of music changes from that of the townspeople to that of Peter and Heather.

Britten's Billy Budd is very good also.  It has a gorgeous aria sung by Billy the night before his execution.

Thanks, Anne. I just bought Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem. If I am impressed enough I will move onto his operas. :)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Brewski on November 13, 2007, 02:04:03 PM
Thanks, Anne. I just bought Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem. If I am impressed enough I will move onto his operas. :)

The Sinfonia is a marvelous piece.  You might also want to check out the Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, which are orchestral segments representing the sea at different times of the day and used to bridge key scenes.  There are many good recordings, but here is an excellent live performance conducted by David Atherton available very cheaply, and the rest of the program is very good, too:

http://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Interludes-Portsmouth-Mussorgsky-Khovanshchina/dp/B000BJL7C0/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1194990940&sr=1-11

--Bruce
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on November 13, 2007, 02:09:17 PM
The Sinfonia is a marvelous piece.  You might also want to check out the Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, which are orchestral segments representing the sea at different times of the day and used to bridge key scenes.  There are many good recordings, but here is an excellent live performance conducted by David Atherton available very cheaply, and the rest of the program is very good, too:

http://www.amazon.com/Stravinsky-Interludes-Portsmouth-Mussorgsky-Khovanshchina/dp/B000BJL7C0/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1194990940&sr=1-11

--Bruce

Those are on the same disc!
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on November 13, 2007, 05:57:01 PM
Listened to Das Wunder der Heliane last night... my head is still spinning. What an imaginative, lush work! The three hours went by so quickly!
You think so? What an obscene, preposterous and totally incomprensible libretto and plot. Great music though.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on November 13, 2007, 06:25:29 PM
You think so? What an obscene, preposterous and totally incomprensible libretto and plot. Great music though.

With music that good I am willing to accept the absurdities of the libretto. :P
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: knight66 on November 13, 2007, 11:58:01 PM
It is heartening in a way to see how many superb operas have been produced in the last 100 years. But very few of those from say the last 30 years. Possibly one problem is, I have read of quite a few operas getting a premier, then no other productions, so they disappear before people get a chance to evaluate them.

I suppose it is like the problem with the modern symphony. The composer gets the commission, it gets one outing, then silence.

Mike
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: val on November 14, 2007, 02:07:17 AM
Regarding the last 100 years, these are my favorite:

SCHÖNBERG:  Moses und Aaron

ALBAN BERG:  Wozzeck

ENESCU:        Oedipe

RICHARD STRAUSS:  Daphne / Capriccio

HINDEMITH:    Cardillac

KURT WEILL:   Mahagonny

PROKOFIEV:    The Fiery Angel

SHOSTAKOVITCH:  The Nose

BRITTEN:        Peter Grimes / The turn of the screw

ZIMMERMANN:      Die Soldaten
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: some guy on November 18, 2007, 01:10:51 AM
Well Corey, since this thread seems miraculously to be still alive, I'll go ahead and fill in a gap or two myself.

Oh, it's fun!!

Janáček, Osud. Not as well known. I don't know why. There's some problem with different versions of the libretto or something. I don't remember things. Anyway, the music is sublimely seductive. I dare you not to love this opera!! (Just avoid Mackerras's Englished version. Not only is the English lame, but the performance is not up to Sir Charles generally lofty standards. There are two others, both in Czech, and they're different from each other but both good. I tend to favor František Jílek's. It was the first one I heard, and I prefer the soprano. But Albrecht's is superb. (Get both. It's only one CD.)
Prokofiev, Semyon Kotko. Wild and wildly beautiful. This is 1940 Prokofiev, at the top of his game.
Poulenc, Dialogues des Carmélites. Also tops. I usually don't pay that much attention to the story, but the ending of this won't let you ignore that element. (There's a moment in the Prokofiev that's like that, too. "Net net.")
Feldman, Neither. Pedants will assure you that this is not an opera. So shoot me. It's Feldman. It's great.
Nørgård, Nuit des Hommes. Good strong Nørgård. Makes me want his other, less readily available operas.
Kutavičius, Lokys, the Bear. Wildly addictive Lithuanian minimalism.
And (since I unfortunately do not know the Ashley operas) the pick of the opera crop, for me, Helmut Lachenmann's Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern. As good as Lachenmann gets, which means that it's as good an opera as it gets.

I'm sure I've left something really cool off this list, but it's late. Why am I still awake? Anyway, I'll add my voice to the chorus of Britten's Peter Grimes, which I saw three times when it was in L.A. a few years back. And Janáček's Katya Kabanova, which is so utterly gorgeous, I think I should listen to it now, just because I'm thinking about it. All Janáček's operas are good. Many of them are superb. And possibly the greatest opera of the twentieth century, Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on November 18, 2007, 05:45:33 AM
Thanks, those are some unconventional choices there. I didn't know Feldman wrote an opera. Is it plotless? I've also been meaning to get Nuit des Hommes for some time now, but keep putting it off for whatever reason. His other, larger operas are hard to find in the States.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Lethevich on November 18, 2007, 06:22:57 AM
I hadn't noticed this release a month back - very exciting to see one of his operas available on DVD finally.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51LsELCbLiL._AA240_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/Martinu-Greek-Passion-Charles-Mackerras/dp/B000TT1QPA)
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: pjme on November 19, 2007, 03:17:07 PM
(http://www.supraphon.com/!img_katalog/111802_2_xl.gif)

this is gorgeous from beginning to end!
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: some guy on November 21, 2007, 05:05:09 PM
Martinu! Of course. He wrote a ton of operas.

I want that Greek Passion DVD. What a cool opera that is, to be sure.

As for Neither, no. No plot. (It's words by Samuel Beckett, too, can't be bad.)

I left off Maderna's Satyricon from my list, probably because I've only listened to it once or twice and have no very clear recollection.

I just got Chaya Czernowin's opera, Pnima...ins Innere. I've only played it once, and only watched a few minutes of the opening, up to when the old man starts wandering in and out of a doorway. So I have nothing to say about the plotless action of that, either. But the music is very spare and interesting. Isolated notes and phrases. Interesting sparse textures.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: BachQ on December 20, 2007, 07:22:23 AM
Katya Kabanova by Rudolf Jedlicka

scarecrow says:  "misogynist retrogressive peasantry refusing to understand the challenges of libidinal dimensions"
 
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on December 20, 2007, 07:26:24 AM
Katya Kabanova by Rudolf Jedlicka

scarecrow says:  "misogynist retrogressive peasantry refusing to understand the challenges of libidinal dimensions"
 


My favorite sociopathic Amazon reviewer!
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: BachQ on December 20, 2007, 07:28:18 AM
My favorite sociopathic Amazon reviewer!

Yeah, he's one of my favorite sociopaths too! ..........
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Kullervo on December 20, 2007, 07:28:59 AM
Yeah, he's one of my favorite sociopaths too! ..........

You know he used to review as a woman named "Rachael"?  :D
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Spineur on April 02, 2016, 03:15:59 PM
It is heartening in a way to see how many superb operas have been produced in the last 100 years. But very few of those from say the last 30 years. Possibly one problem is, I have read of quite a few operas getting a premier, then no other productions, so they disappear before people get a chance to evaluate them.

I suppose it is like the problem with the modern symphony. The composer gets the commission, it gets one outing, then silence.

Mike

I am discovering this very interesting thread.
A very recent opera is Alexander Raskatov "A dog's heart" after Michael Bulgakov novel which was created in 2010 at Netherland royal opera.   I saw it in Lyon last year and was highly impressed.  I havent seen any DVD or recording yet.  Its an amazing piece. The duch royal opera reprogrammed it.  The next step would be to see it at one of the summer festival and then the MET, but the road is going to be pretty long as you wisely observed.
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Jaakko Keskinen on April 17, 2016, 02:19:09 AM
Does Pelleas by Debussy count? Most of the music was completed at 19th century but it was finished by 1902.

Pelleas et Melisande
Fanciulla del west
Turandot
Salome
Elektra
Die Liebe der Danae
The Miserly knight
Golden cockerel
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on April 17, 2016, 04:33:03 PM
Wow someone revived a thread that is 9 yrs old.  This has to be a record.

Anyway mine are:

Lady Macbeth
Elektra
Wozzeck
Title: Re: Favorite Operas of the Past Century
Post by: Cato on April 17, 2016, 05:13:14 PM
R. Strauss: Elektra

Rachmaninov:The Miserly Knight

Schoenberg: Erwartung, Moses und Aron

Hindemith: Cardillac

Berg: Wozzeck

Prokofiev: The Fiery Angel

Hartmann: Simplicius Simplicissimus

Janacek: Katya Kabanova, Jenufa, From the House of the Dead

Herrmann: Wuthering Heights

Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex (opera-cantata)   8)

Martinu: Ariane, The Greek Passion

Birger-Blomdahl: Aniara (opera-cantata)  ??? 8)

Penderecki: The Devils of Loudun