Opera?

Discussion in 'Music' started by Chad Isaacs, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. Chad Isaacs

    Chad Isaacs Supporting Actor

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    Hey guys.. some may laugh, I even laugh at myself for this but I have been listening to my Damian Rice "O" cd a lot lately and I love the opera singer on the song Eskimo.

    I was wondering what you would reccomend based solely on that. I do most of my music listening at work.. with headphones because there is a LOT of noise here and at home we have the kids and I just never have any alone time...

    Speaking of listening at home, a huge contradiction, just last night I was listening to Eskimo at home and the sound cut out a few times while "she" was singing. Is it too high of a frequency to pass through or what? My system is nothing glamarous ( Onkyo 7.1 receiver and JBL E 30's up front) but I have never noticed this before and I listened to it at work today on my phones and it played without any dropping.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Who is the opera singer you heard?

    If you're looking for opera recommendations from a casual opera fan, I can tell you that Carmen is my favorite work, but Verdi is my overall favorite opera composer. Mozart's The Magic Flute is a good piece to start with, too.

    Just yesterday I was listening to Dawn Upshaw sing some old Broadway show tunes on the radio, and I really enjoyed it -- she has a very accessible voice. You might want to try something that features her. Cecilia Bartoli and Placido Domingo are some other opera singers that I like.
     
  3. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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  4. Chad Isaacs

    Chad Isaacs Supporting Actor

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    Marc, she looks nothing like I pictured her to look.

    Thanks for the reccomendations, I will start checking things out which will be much easier now that I have a place to start.
     
  5. Patrick_S

    Patrick_S Producer

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    Wow a thread on Opera. Maybe I should check out the Music section more often.

    While I'm no expert I have been listening to Opera for around thirty years.
    Sadly Opera is not in the best state right now. There are just no singers on the level of Corelli, Tebaldi, Callas or Sutherland (to name a few) who are performing these days but luckily they live on in their recordings.

    If you are new to Opera I would suggest that you avoid the Ring for the time being. I know that to Ring fans that comes across as sacrilege but I'll stand by that remark. It's not that the Ring is not well constructed (it is) but it's harsh for want of a better word. It's far better to start with Bel canto Operas and fortunately Callas, Tebaldi and Sutherland recorded many Bel canto operas which are still available today. Just as a side note Callas is often credited with reviving Bel Canto opera which had falling out of favor until she came along.

    In the end the best advice I can offer is that you sample many recordings and many artists to see if anything catches your interest.
     
  6. Steve Y

    Steve Y Supporting Actor

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    Hey Chad,

    You might want to start with some opera sung in English. Benjamin Britten is really good - I would recommend Billy Budd or Turn of the Screw. I know there is a GREAT Naxos recording of the latter available (the best I've ever heard)... it is a truly eerie and frightening work, beautifully sung, and not too long. And no need to follow along in the liner notes for translation!

    And I must second Patrick's advice. Do not start with Wagner, despite the passionate claims of his adherents. Richard Strauss is far more accessable if you're looking for mythic themes and "endless chromaticism" (i.e. endless winding arias) - I like Arabella or Der Rosenkavalier. Or if you like impressionistic opera, Pelleas et Melisande is great, though a bit difficult to swallow at first (melodically speaking) without a visual. But it's romantic and very highly charged with emotion.

    If you're new to Mozart I wouldn't start with The Magic Flute or Don Giovanni. Go with an earlier one, like The Abduction from the Seraglio, which is basically a collection of nice arias linked by spoken plot points. Goes down easy. But treat them like movies or plays. Opera as "pure music" (like a symphony) is just not the whole experience. My first opera was La Boheme, because I was seventeen and in love and it was nice and gut-wrenching for my adolescent spirit. It wasn't a musical connection but an emotional one. Always listen to operas with plots that interest you.

    I HIGHLY recommend that when you check out an opera you rent a DVD of it as well. Opera is meant to be enjoyed as storytelling, and the music is harder to appreciate without the dramatic aspects fully integrated. With perhaps the exception of Puccini, who was the Steven Spielberg of opera, and whose works play like melodic symphonies.
     
  7. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    I have no idea if they're any good or not, but I've seen a series of CDs in stores called something like "Opera Classics in English," which are well-known non-English operas sung in English translations.
     
  8. Patrick_S

    Patrick_S Producer

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    Non English language operas translated and sung in English sounds like terrible idea.
     
  9. JordanS

    JordanS Second Unit

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    Roger Waters - Ca Ira
     
  10. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    I agree... it would be similar to watching a foreign film with dubbed audio.
     
  11. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Maybe -- if I'm remembering it right, though, some pretty big-name singers were involved.

    Getting it "right" would be an interesting project.
     
  12. Chad Isaacs

    Chad Isaacs Supporting Actor

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    Ha, I just saw Roger Waters a little over a week ago.

    Thanks for all of the good tips and pointers I am going to go browse Best Buy this week and see what I can find.

    Is there anything out there with a more modern based music or am I looking at mostly classical?Nothing wrong there just wondering.
     
  13. Patrick_S

    Patrick_S Producer

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    Aaron my problem with translating is that I personally find it so unnecessary. I also feel the same way about Super Titles at live performances. (I think that is the term for it.)

    If you read the libretto and know the story before hand and the singers do a good job expressing the emotions of the arias and duets the listener will get the emotional impact even if they don't understand the words.

    All this posting about the Opera makes me want to fly to NY and catch a couple performances at the Met. Maybe I’ll do that in December.
     
  14. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Screenwriter

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    It is difficult to get a good translation done since the translator has to keep the meaning of the original and ensure it flows with the music. And yes, I've seen a few misfires. Definitely not the same as dubbing a film, which I can't stand. At least the mouths are in synch with the words and music.

    My best memory of opera in English was a full Ring Cycle performed by the Welsh National Opera at Covent Garden. It was wonderful and allowed me to enjoy future performances in German.
     
  15. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    I think that holds true for many experienced listeners, but for someone just starting to get into opera, I think that supertitles and translations are quite valuable. I know that I likes my little LED screen when I go to the Met! [​IMG]

    If I am experiencing an opera for the first time in a live performance or on DVD, then I definitely prefer to follow the words as I watch the performance rather than read the synopsis beforehand. It's like subtitling a foreign-language film instead of just reading a synopsis and then watching it without subtitles. [​IMG]
     
  16. Chad Isaacs

    Chad Isaacs Supporting Actor

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    Well, I picked up my first cd last night. We were at Best Buy and I found a widescreen copy of Rent, I have been looking for this for a while. Each copy I have found was full screen. So I walked to the register and found my self in the classical area and looked around some and found the Opera Babes cd, Beyond Immagination ( I think is the title... its in the car) and I was not able to turn it off eariler, I really like it a lot.

    Thanks for everything!
     
  17. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    One thing to remember is that opera is a theatrical art form. With the rise of the DVD it is now possible to have it all: original language for artistic sake, seeing the performers act, and having subtitles in your own language. And quite often a single DVD may cost less than a multi-CD set of the music alone.

    A first suggestion is the DVD of the film version "Bizet's Carmen" by director Francesco Rosi, Columbia DVD 04879. However IIRC this is now out of print so you may have to seek a used copy. (Oh shoot, I see used copies going for $120 and up on Amazon.) This film version is not just a shot of a staged performance: rather, it is shot on location in southern Spain and all the music is "Foleyed" in post-production. See if you can find a cheap copy somehow.
     

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