Tag Archives: North American opera

Donizetti operas — ‘Lucia’ plus three score more

'Lucia di Lammermoor' --Operatoonity readers favorite Donizetti

Editor’s Note:  Today’s Golden Operatoonity repost is in celebration of the anniversary of the Premiere of  Donizetti ‘s Lucia di Lammermoor, on September 26, 1835, in Naples, Italy.

In this century, it’s generally agreed upon that only a dozen of Donizetti’s operas are worth producing. Arguably some people would quibble with even that figure. According to the Donizetti poll I posted yesterday, Operatoonity readers favor Lucia di Lammermoor.  Some opera fans I know consider Lucia not only their favorite Donizetti, but their all-time favorite opera.

According to one of Opera Pulse’s polls, in which I voted, Lucia is also the second best opera character to be for Halloween (she was my first choice). I also had a blast writing about Lucia on this blog last June. Whoever schedules Lucia during the most popular marrying month in North America must have a wicked sense of humor. Don’t expect to see Lucia on the cover of Bride Magazine anytime soon.

After one of my readers mentioned that some of Donizetti’s lesser known operas featured some of the silliest plots ever, I decided to give them a look-see. According to The Penguin Opera Guide, Donizetti wrote 65 operas in total. Other sites say 60. Sixty operas? Verdi wrote half that many. True, most of Verdi’s works endure today where as only one-fifth of Donizetti’s works are regularly produced. But 60? That’s a lotta opera!

Did any other composer write as much as Donizetti? Apparently, depending on how you define opera, several composers are credited with more than 100 each, one surpassing 250, but how many composers whose work is produced today? Good question. Donizetti would have to be right up there.

According to Bachtrack’s 2010 League Tables, Donizetti ranked 7th of composers with most opera performances worldwide with 240 after Verdi with 824, Mozart  with 771, Puccini  with 681, Wagner  with 273, Rossini  with 259, and Richard Strauss 246. More Strauss than Donizetti?  A surprising statistic, per moi.

I can’t say which of the following Donizetti works are so silly they aren’t worth producing, but I can tell you which one would drive the marketing department crazy:  Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali   Just how do you fit that title onto a poster?

Anyhoo, here’s one list of his complete works:

A

* L’ajo nell’imbarazzo
* Alahor in Granata
* Alfredo il grande
* Alina, regina di Golconda
* L’ange de Nisida
* Anna Bolena
* L’assedio di Calais

B

* Belisario
* Betly

C

* Il campanello
* Il castello di Kenilworth
* Caterina Cornaro (opera)
* Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali

D

* Il diluvio universale
* Dom Sébastien
* Don Gregorio (opera)
* Don Pasquale
* Le duc d’Albe

E

 * L’elisir d’amore
 * Elvida
* Emilia di Liverpool
* Enrico di Borgogna
* L’esule di Roma

F

* Fausta (opera)
* La favorite
* La fille du régiment
* Francesca di Foix
* Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo

G

* Gabriella di Vergy
* Gemma di Vergy
* Gianni di Calais
* Gianni di Parigi

I

* Il giovedì grasso
* Imelda de’ Lambertazzi

L

 * Linda di Chamounix
* Lucia di Lammermoor
* Lucrezia Borgia (opera)

M

* Maria de Rudenz
* Maria di Rohan
* Maria Padilla
* Maria Stuarda
* Marino Faliero (opera)

O

* Olivo e Pasquale
* Otto mesi in due ore

P

 * Parisina (opera)
* Pia de’ Tolomei
* Pietro il grande
* Il Pigmalione
* Poliuto

R

 * Rita (opera)
* Roberto Devereux
* La romanzesca e l’uomo nero
* Rosmonda d’Inghilterra

S

 * Sancia di Castiglia

T

 * Torquato Tasso (opera)

U

* Ugo, conte di Parigi
* Una follia

Z

* La zingara
* Zoraida di Granata

 



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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Audience participation, Bel canto opera, Classical Composers, Golden Operatoonity, North American Opera, Poll

murder at the opera?

a novel by Margaret Truman

Only on the page, I’m afraid.  

Though at least one opera singer in the US was believed to be murdered in the past year (according to one news story I read), real murder at the opera is merely the stuff of fiction. In fact, it’s a Capital Crimes Mystery by author Margaret Truman, set in Washington D.C., at the Kennedy Center, home to the Washington National Opera.  

Like Bel Canto, this opera-based novel is written by a North American. It also takes place in the capital of the United States.  

I found Murder at the Opera while searching for contemporary fiction that used opera or an opera house as a backdrop. Actually, the pickings were pretty slim, and, as a result, Truman’s Murder at the Opera surfaced quickly.  

After flipping through the book, I liked the amount and frequency of dialogue as a model for my own opera-based book. Also, almost from the opening line, the author Margaret Truman exhibits a gentle sense of humor about opera that makes the story more accessible. After discovering the book included scenes with members of the Washington National Opera’s volunteer guild, it jumped to the top of my list.  

Here’s the book’s premise: A rising star from Canada enrolled in the Washington National Opera’s Young Artist  Program is stabbed in the heart during rehearsals for a production of Tosca, the most famous opera for fatal stabbings. An opera guild volunteer and her professor-husband, once a defense attorney, set about trying to solve the murder on behalf of the WNO, alongside the Metro Police. Together working with a retired detective who is an opera buff and a supernumerary for Tosca, that set out to unmask a killer. The case quickly becomes more complex as the crime-fighting couple learns the deceased soprano had connections with international terrorists.  

Pretty scary–a scenario that includes a member of the company’s young artist program. After all, young people come from all over the world to participate in these accelerated opera training academies, trusting they will learn a profession, and not lose their life for their ambition.   

As the daughter of a president, Margaret Truman is very interested and skilled at showcasing Washington, D.C., and knows the area, Washington society and Washington restaurants well. She shows a formidable knowledge and appreciation of opera without pounding her knowhow into readers.  

I liked her dialogue attribution and her dialogue as  well. She worked back story in seamlessly. Right away, she introduces a sympathetic character in one of her main characters as we learn early on that his first wife and child were killed. His new wife is pretty, smart, cultured and very loving and easy for the reader to like.  

Truman has an economical but not sparing writing style which serves her genre well, occasionally lingering over a description here and there. She writes with confidence. She has a gentle sense of humor. She’s more hip than I ever imagined she would be from her name and her picture in which she looks ninety years old.  

I liked the first two-thirds of the book a great deal. Since mystery is a genre dependent on plot, I didn’t think the last third delivered the necessary punch. It became a little convoluted and the outcomes were disappointing.  

To set your mind at ease, unless you are talking about the butchery of a score or killing a production, an actual murder at the opera remains the stuff of imagination only. Let’s hope it stays that way. 

 

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a tale Godunov to share–the Chevy Chase of basses?

Tonight, I went to opening night at Berks Jazz Fest. At the gala before the show, I was talking with a veteran local musician, now a senior citizen, who had seen Boris Godunov at the Met decades ago.

“It starred a Finnish bass,” he explained but not remembering the name. “This singer was unusual because during the death scene, he didn’t just slump over in his chair like most Godunov’s. I remember he actually tumbled out of it.”

The death scene is dramatic and draining and to combine the equivalent of a pratfall in the scene sounded like a killer punishment to the body–over time.

I got home and within minutes on the computer, I googled Finnish bass and Godunov and found (drumroll, please) this video of Martti Talvela just about killing himself in this scene–definitely punishing his body. When he dies, he hits the floor,straight on, like dead weight. And yet he performed the role of Boris Godunov 39 times between 1974 and 1987, at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, which is why I referred to him as the Chevy Chase of opera. Not because Talvela was funny, but because he inflicted so much punishment on his body while on stage. Sadly, he died young, at only age 54 in 1989.

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Filed under North American Opera, opera anecdotes, Performers

retro Met? (don’t quote me)

Plácido Domingo

 

The one thing I hate at the Met is the note in the program that the public is requested not to interrupt the music with applause. That should be destroyed. What we need is to be encouraged to applaud.
–Plácido Domingo 

 
Fast forward to 2011: Rules about applauding at classical music concerts appear to be relaxing. Even in the bastions of classical music like the Metropolitan Opera, you are likely to hear premature clapping.

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Filed under North American Opera, opera quotes

take me out to the opera–an Operatoonity microtale

Babe Ruth, a legendary baseball player, not known for singing opera

Today, March 20, is the first day of spring, and many people in North America equate spring with baseball. In celebration of America’s favorite spring sport, I found a microtale about both opera and baseball. 

A group of American reporters once asked Caruso what he thought of Babe Ruth. Caruso, who was unfailingly polite and friendly, said that he didn’t know because unfortunately he had never heard her sing. 

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Filed under Microtales, North American Opera, Opera and humor