Comments on SOME OPERATIC ARIAS FOR NON-OPERA FANS: THE MEN" (26 total)  
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Merry Christmas,
by DeRango
From my Family to yours :)

--DeRango
Dec 25, 2006
8:22 pm PST

As someone who knows little of opera...
by mongkut

I always find your reviews very informative. You always seem to give information about what is actually going on in the piece as well as why each piece is significant which makes it much easier to understand for novices like myself.

This particular review was very helpful to me as I could relate to many of the pieces you included. Starting with 'Turandot: Nessun dorma', which is one of my few favorite operatic pieces. I first heard it in some mafia flick, as I seem to do with many Italian operatic pieces, and have since listened to it many times. I'm embarrassed to say my only opera CD is a Three Tenors thing that includes this.

'The Barber of Seville: Largo al factotum' I recognized from old Looney Tunes cartoons where this was used in several symphonic gags.

One piece that I was surprised not to see was 'Vesti la Giubba'. I first heard this in another mafia movie, maybe 'The Untouchables', where they had Al Capone listening to Enrico Caruso performing the piece. I'm not sure if this is a good example of male operatic pieces or not as I have no knowledge on which to base a guess. But it is one that I find very interesting, especially the old recordings of Caruso.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

Rob
Dec 26, 2006
5:05 am PST

Thanks...
by lammet
big thanks for sharing worthy knowledge with us. Increasingly, your reviews are gems. You're on my trusted.

Hronia Polla to you & yours too!

-Vasilis
Dec 26, 2006
6:26 am PST

Kudos!
by Don_Krider
Very nicely done! I learn so much from you and Stephen_Murray about the classics and opera via your reviews --- such wonderful detail and descriptions here.

Happy Holidays!

Don :)
Dec 26, 2006
6:28 am PST

Wonderfully Done!
by elvisdo
I totally enjoyed this enlightening piece. Why does it feel like I'm getting schooled? ;)

~C
Dec 26, 2006
8:35 am PST

Great stuff
by Stephen_Murray
but how could Basilio's "La calunnia un venticello" from the Sevillian barber not be included? I'll take it in a head-to-head contest with Leporello's list. (At least Figaro's cock-of-the-walk aria is on it...)
Dec 26, 2006
12:15 pm PST

Mozart is SO masculine...
by bettega
You're right! I adore mozart. I know very little of the names of his pieces, but when I listen to the classical music station in the car and there is a piece that I really adore, it's most often Mozart. I especially like Queen of the Night, but it's not neccessarily a very macho opera. I love that high E she hits. Most instruments can't even go that high except maybe a flute, violin or a piccolo.

Great piece. I read some of the comments on your other pieces and I must complement you on your level of culture... I feel intimidated in a good way! For me, that's a requirement for close frienship I suppose. I love spending time with someone who knows a lot more than I do because I love to learn new things and expand my horizons. My wife doesn't know that much about what I know, but she is so good and calm about navingating certain things that I know nothing about that is what drew me to her. She has introduced me to so many things since I have met her that it blew my mind, but more importantly we have experienced so many things unfamiliar to the both of us since we have met that it really adds a spice to life... and of course, if one is so cultured, you can very easily learn new things that you know nothing about. The best thing is an open mind with judgement because then it can be flooded with good things and of course purge out the bad!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday
Bettega
Dec 26, 2006
12:38 pm PST

Hey DeRango, Rob, Vasilis, Don, Charles, Stephen, and Bettega!
by smorg
Thanks so much for your kind words and well wishes! I hope you all had a great Christmas as well! :O) It has been a real pleasure writing to such an appreciative audience and I’m very happy that you guys aren’t getting bored with all the opera reviews yet.

Rob: You always seem to give information about what is actually going on in the piece as well as why each piece is significant which makes it much easier to understand for novices like myself.
Thanks for the very helpful feedback, Rob! I’m one of those weirdos who feel the need to change my reviewing format after a while just so I won’t feel like a robot. Now I know better what to keep in the reviews. :O) No need being embarrassed about only having the Three Tenors CD, tho. I know many opera fans frown on them, but all 3 of them were great singers (Mr Domingo now does a lot of conducting and he runs the Los Angeles Opera) and this commercial enterprise really helped bring a lot of new audience to the theater to discover really great singing.

Rob: One piece that I was surprised not to see was 'Vesti la Giubba'. I first heard this in another mafia movie, maybe 'The Untouchables', where they had Al Capone listening to Enrico Caruso performing the piece.
That is another wonderful aria indeed! It got cut only because I get nervous when my draft of a review exceeds 3 pages on the WordPerfect program. ;O) But now that you’ve mentioned it, it is going on the review as tenor #8! And you’ve heard the definitive version of the thing if you’ve heard Enrico Caruso. :O)

Vasilis: You're on my trusted. Hronia Polla to you & yours too!
Thanks, Vasilis! I’m very honored. :O) Hronia Polla!

Don: I learn so much from you and Stephen_Murray about the classics and opera via your reviews
Thanks, Don! I’m learning a lot from reading yours and Stephen’s reviews as well. Your history book reviews are peerless!

Charles: totally enjoyed this enlightening piece. Why does it feel like I'm getting schooled? ;)
That’s because I’m a preachy dude, Charles. ;O) Thanks! I used to have a teacher who couldn’t be persuaded to not assume that everyone he talks to knows what words like attenuation mean... and I got the impression he talked in exotic technical terms all the time because he didn’t really know the subject enough to explain it so others can understand it. So now you guys know who to blame for having to read the same terminology being explained in every reviews. ;o)

Stephen: how could Basilio's "La calunnia un venticello" from the Sevillian barber not be included? I'll take it in a head-to-head contest with Leporello's list.
For the same lame excuse as in the omission of Vesti la Giubba, Stephen. But you're right, it is a swell piece and now I'm adding it to the basso's list. Thanks! :o)

Bettega: Mozart is SO masculine
I don’t think I’ve ever heard his music described that way before... but I think you’re right there! ;O) I think he was the guy all the girls wanted to date. His music is so descriptive and emotional. Most of the time people think it too “perfect” or “cold”, but I think that has more to do with how some musicians play it. There isn’t a more romantic piece around than the allegro from his Serenade for 13 winds (Gran Partita), IMHO (it’s the piece Salieri describes in the film Amadeus as Mozart rushes off from fooling with Constanze under the table to conduct because they had started without him). And he wrote all the greatest rage arias (I just love them)... like the Queen of the Night’s rage aria you mentioned (6 high F’s in 3 minutes! Must be a barbarously difficult thing to sing!), or 2 of Elettra’s arias from Idomeneo... and Idomeneo (a tenor) himself gets lots of great arias. His Act II ‘Fuor del mar’ is probably one of the most difficult tenor arias to sing around.

Thanks very much for your compliments, too! I must say a lot of the credits should go to my parents who stuffed a lot of it in me when I was an uncooperative youth. ;O) You’re absolutely right about the necessity to keep an open mind in order to discover new things! I think I benefitted from being a late-comer to opera, so it is easier for me to remember how off-putting some great operatic songs can sound to ears that aren’t familiar with opera singing. You and your wife sound like a good match! It is probably better to know more in different areas, I think. I get such kicks out of reading your reviews, too. You put a lot of details in them and still make them flow so well they seem half their actual length!

Thanks again guys. Hope your Christmas week is going well! :O)
Dec 26, 2006
1:48 pm PST

I'm really surprised that you left Samuel Ramey off your list.
by telynor
He's one of the best out there on the boards these days. I was first wowed by him singing Sarastro in Die Zauberflote, and then I saw him in Nabucco as the High Priest, and was floored. He's got power, presence, and makes the best Mephistophele I've ever seen, quite simply looks the part. He also does a pretty wicked Leporello too. Check out http://www.samuelramey.com/ I was also a huge fan of the late Franco Corelli, who not just sang the part of the romantic tenor, but looked it as well. Sigh. Great list. -- Telynor
Dec 27, 2006
10:51 pm PST

Re: I'm really surprised that you left Samuel Ramey off your list.
by smorg
Sam Ramey! I knew I missed something!!
Thanks, Telynor. He was one of the very best indeed, and still going strong, too. I caught a bit of the Met broadcast of Don Carlo earlier and he still has it (tho there is a wobble now). What a singer. Adding him to the list, I am.

And that Franco Corelli was really something else, too. A real dramatic tenor with a top that would make many lyric tenors today weep! You know all the good ones! :O)

Cheers,
Smorg
Dec 28, 2006
5:45 pm PST

Wow...
by cmaw63
I just learned more about opera reading your review than I've ever known. The best part was I didn't mind learning it. Great review.
Julie
Dec 28, 2006
10:24 pm PST

Re: Wow...
by smorg
Hi Julie,
Thanks very much for your kind words! :O)

Opera is a lot more relatable than I thought, really. I thought Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor has a ridiculous story... and then I researched it and whaddaya know... it is based on a true story! And it is told with such beautiful music, too.

Anyhow, thanks again for stopping by and for not falling asleep on me (I'm fighting a losing battle trying to keep my reviews short). Epinionators sure are patient!

Happy New Year!
Smorg :O)
Dec 29, 2006
8:35 pm PST

Happy New Year
by triple_irons
Thanks for expanding my musical horizon. I must say that the most exposure I've had to the opera is through Warner Brothers cartoons. (who hasn't heard of the 3 tenors)

I've listened to each of the samples, and truly enjoyed them. I can see myself appreciating this music at a loud volume, in my apartment. I could be one of those guys.
Jan 1, 2007
12:12 pm PST

Re: Happy New Year
by smorg
Hey Triple_irons,
My pleasure! And thanks for enduring the long essays, too! :o) I try to keep 'em short but they refuse to budge.

O, I wish the cartoons use those opera tunes, too. The music is so descriptive you don't even have to listen to the words to know what's going on. Disney's Fantasia is a classic!

'I can see myself appreciating this music at a loud volume, in my apartment. I could be one of those guys'.

That's the next best thing to hearing it live in theater indeed! ;O) Hey, the Metropolitan Opera is broadcasting its opera live to some movie theaters on Saturdays. Might be in one of the theaters near you (I'm looking forward to their I Puritani broadcast this Saturday myself).
http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/news/press/detail.aspx?id=265

Thanks for stopping by. Hope 2007 is going great for ya'!
Smorg :O)
Jan 2, 2007
12:29 pm PST

Did you know?
by pmills1210
You could also have posted this piece under "General Music Reviews." If you had been interested in seeing how music advisors rated, you could have gone there. I hope this helps, and Happy New Year!

Sincerely, Pat
Jan 2, 2007
5:13 pm PST

Re: Did you know?
by smorg
Hi Pat,
No, I didn't. Thanks very much for the suggestion! :O) I'm a rather slow learner on where to post, indeed!

Should I copy the piece and re-post it there or can the thing be moved there intact? I think the 2 live opera reviews probably should go there as well, but couldn't find the category so I posted them in Writer's Corner, too. Ack! Do music advisors rate differently if a piece isn't posted under 'music'?

Anyhow, will be sure to post my next piece of this kind there. Thanks very much! Happy 2007 to you, too!

Smorg :O)
Jan 4, 2007
3:20 pm PST

Hi Smorg,
by craftswoman
BRAVO....BRAVISSIMO!

Your enthusiasm is contagious. I am going to have to look for Don Giovanni videos or DVD's at the library. PBS recently showed Don Juan played by Peter O'Toole. (I have always had a crush on him.) He was fantastic. Now I want to watch/hear the opera, especially after reading your review.

I missed this review because some of my "alerts" aren't alerting me! : (

I loved your definition of male voice categories. : )

PBS had Audra McDonald singing show tunes on New Year's Eve. (I know this comment should go under your female category.) Anyway, it was very interesting to say the least! She kept fussing with her hair and it was starting to drive me nuts! She didn't appear to be nervous (except for the hair thing.) Then, she flubbed the lines of a song, just forgot them entirely and said "oops!" Then,later on, she said something totally inappropriate, and I went "yikes!" and she caught herself and apologized. She said something like, "I think that may have been politically incorrect. I apologize." And there was one other thing, she made a comment about what her father calls Barbra Streisand, "Streisdan." And then made a comment about how her father wouldn't be to happy about her mentioning that! I was surprised that PBS still ran this program. It was entertaining in more ways than one!

She sang beautifully and even shed a tear during some of the songs she performed. I just wondered how you would rate her in the opera world?

Back to your review: I loved the film Amadeus. It was under-rated. Everyone who hasn't seen it should see it.

Love the comments here. You deserve a Most Helpful.

Marcy



Jan 5, 2007
7:18 am PST

Re: Hi Smorg,
by smorg
Hi Marcy,
Thanks! I hope you find a good DVD of Don Giovanni! I’m afraid I haven’t seen the right one of that opera yet (but I’ve only watched 4 of them so far... the Furtwangler from Salzburg Festival 1954, the Muti from la Scala, the very weird Peter Sellar film from the slum of NYC, and the bloody provocative one from Salzburg Festival 2006 ... some have great music with awful acting, and some have great acting with less than inspired music, and the Salzburg 2006 has both great music and acting, but is so removed from original context that I’m still trying to decide if I like it or not...). The ones I’m looking forward to trying are the Harnoncourt from Zurich 2005... both because I’m a big fan of Herr Harnoncourt’s works and have loved all but one opera staging from Zurich (they’re usually minimalistic and conceptual, but in good taste). And the one from the Met (with Levine, of course) due to the presence of Bryn Terfel, Ferrucio Furlanetto, and Hei Kyung Hong in the cast.

missed this review because some of my "alerts" aren't alerting me!
I think I’ve been catching the same ‘notifiers bug’, too! Sometimes I’d go back to fix a certain review and there’d be an unanswered comment there that I was never notified of. Computers! They act like spoiled house cats sometimes, don’t they? Thanks for reading my reviews, amica!

Audra McDonald does mostly operetta and Broadway musicals, so I’m afraid I haven’t heard her much. A beautiful voice, I think (I haven’t heard her unamplified yet), and a very musical singer... really knows how to turn a phrase subtly. I hope to catch her on Broadway sometimes as I’ve only seen her in broadcasts of concert performance (no acting there). I think she has won something like 7 Tony’s, so she is probably one of the best Broadway mezzo soprani there is today. I only caught a bit of that concert from Avery Fisher Hall (it’s a weird hall with a less than great acoustic, so using mic is understandable). I was surprised with her ‘presentation’ between the pieces, too. Er...the gal sounded caught between 2 styles (the very refined audience who paid a lot for a ticket, and the ‘light weight’ but intimate musical numbers). She went for the homey approach and ....crashed and burnt a bit since neither the crowd nor the setting were homey, I think. I’ve heard she has had some nervous streaks, so maybe that contributed as well.

’I loved the film Amadeus. It was under-rated. Everyone who hasn't seen it should see it. Love the comments here.

Me, too! A great film indeed. I wish they hadn’t painted Salieri as they did since the man was really well loved among his real life colleagues. But it is right up there with Fantasia in showcasing classical and opera music.

The comments here’ve been great and you’ve just contributed another one! Thanks very much! :O)
Jan 6, 2007
1:08 pm PST

I studied music in college
by fishifishi
and my studies included an overview of opera, but i never noticed the way the voice parts of the men related to their characters. I loved it!

thanks for a great piece to read!
~karen
Jan 9, 2007
8:58 am PST

yup
by garym
What you are doing here with all facets of opera is tremendous for the reader and for Epinions. As a reader, thank you. Keep up the great work.

gary
Jan 9, 2007
12:27 pm PST

Hi Gary & Karen!
by smorg
Thanks so much for stopping by and for your very kind words. :o)

I'm very much smitten by opera indeed. And I'm very grateful for this site for providing me with such a great outlet and a very patient audience as well!

Karen: I studied music in college and my studies included an overview of opera, but i never noticed the way the voice parts of the men related to their characters.
Hey, the always perceptive George_Cabot raised the question of how certain voice types always seem to get certain kind of parts on another opinion comment session this week, too. It's a quirky thing indeed, ay? ;o)

I pretty much over-generalized it a bit, though. The lowest voices are so darn rare the composers wouldn't want to write lots of hero roles for them or they'd have trouble getting the opera performed due to lack of singer, I think. Tho when great low voiced singers come around, a flux of great roles for their voice get written... so I guess the Kasarova and the Podles of our days are probably grateful for the Viardot-Garcia (for whom the mezzo version of Orphee et Eurydice was arranged) or the Colbran (Rossini's favorite coloratura mezzo) who created many of the heroic roles they now sing.

Come to think of it... Hey contemporary composers! It really wouldn't do to let the likes of Kasarova and Podles (and Gruberova, for that matter) end their magnificent career without an opera written for them, you know. ;o)

Thanks again for dropping by, guys!
Smorg :o)
Jan 9, 2007
10:09 pm PST

Re: Your list contains 3 of my favorites:
by smorg
Hiya Fresita,
Oooh! I toyed with Cavaradossi's aria for a long time. It's one of the greatest arias around indeed. I left it out only because I targeted the list to those not already into classical musica and thought it might be too dramatic a song for beginner. But then maybe not! Do you have a favorite version? (I can't get beyond Jussi Bjorling on this one)

Thanks very much for stopping by!
Cheers,
Smorg :o)
Jan 19, 2007
2:25 pm PST

Hello
by jacobeiserman
A great primer on male operatic arias. I studied singing and music in university for four years, but I learned so much from your article.

Have you ever heard "Pour les couvents c'est fini" by Meyerbeer from the somewhat obscure Les Huguenots? It's a bit overdramatic, but I always enjoyed singing it. And I know it's a duet, not an aria, but it would be wonderful to mention the Pearl Fishers duet, given your focus is the male voice.

It may be an under-appreciated genre to the general public, but keep the faith alive!

Matt
Jan 29, 2007
12:44 pm PST

Re: Hello
by smorg
Hi Matt,
Thanks very much for your kind words! :o)

I actually haven't heard all of Les Huguenots, but really want to one of these days. Meyerbeer wrote some really spectacular arias indeed. I included the page Urbain's very catchy aria in the primer on the ladies' arias. Hadn't heard 'Pour les couvents c'est fini', tho. But it being by Meyerbeer, I suspect a lot of octave jumping coloratura-fest of a piece? You must be a heck of a singer! Now I've really gotta go look it up. Thanks!

Cheers,
Smorg :o)
Jan 29, 2007
7:48 pm PST

SMORG: master of informal adult education
by aohcapablanca
SMORG brings out the educational species latent in the larger epinions commercial genus. Hurrah for both epinions and SMORG!

High culture and its enjoyers need intermediaries. And SMORG is a splendid one. AOHCAPABLANCA 04/24/2007
Apr 24, 2007
6:53 am PDT

Re: SMORG: master of informal adult education
by smorg
Hiya AOHCAPABLANCA!
Sorry I hadn't seen your comment until now, mate. Thanks a bunch for the kudos! :o) Hope you found many arias to your liking, too!

Cheers,
Smorgy :o)
Jul 12, 2007
6:03 pm PDT