It is said that Opera is the queen of arts as it combines so many different types of artistic expression to create a unified whole that is seen in the performance on stage. When you think about it, there is music (both its composition and performance), singing, dancing, acting, stage design, costumes, lighting, special effects – to mention a few of these creative forces at work. It is an art form that is highly stylised and admits no middle ground, you either love it or you detest it. Its followers can get as passionate about it as a football fan is about his team and players. Its detractors cannot understand what all the fuss is about and what all that caterwauling on stage is meant to be.
Opera appeals to me as it is a magical mirror of life and its vicissitudes. The way that it presents our common experiences and shared emotions, feelings, and the way that we all react to certain situations can prove to be a powerful insight into our innermost being. And of course the music makes it all so much more immediate and can strip naked our emotional reserve and make us very vulnerable to the stimuli that reach us in that darkened auditorium. The setting draws us in and the highly artificial environment of the stage acts as a lens to focus emotions quite sharply and make us participate in the drama taking place. How easy it is to then find parallels with our own life and experiences…
Of course even the most ardent opera fan has some favourite operas and some that are not all that sympathetic to one’s sensibilities. I particularly dislike Puccini’s “La Bohème” but I like his “Madam Butterfly”. “Carmen” and the “Pearl Fishers” of Bizet are perennial favourites of mine, as are most Verdi operas, with (perhaps surprisingly) the exception of “Aida”. The aria “Celeste Aida” grates on my nerves so much! Mozart’s operas are wonderful as are Rossini’s. “Norma” of Bellini and “Don Pasquale” of Donizetti I like, but Wagner’s music dramas are not my cup of tea. Gluck’s reformed classical style is appealing and his masterpiece “Orfeo e Euridice” strikes a chord with me.
Most baroque operas are firm favourites, with Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” and “L’ Incoronazione di Poppea” ranking very highly. Handel’s operas are wonderful, as are those of Purcell, including the marvellous “Dido and Aeneas”. Rameau’s “Les Indes Gallantes” is a firm favourite, as are some of Cavalli’s operas, for example, “La Callisto”.
The photo below is from the Melbourne Opera's production of "Faust" by Gounod, another favourite opera of mine. What are your favourite operas? Or for that matter, operas you can't stand?
This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.