I'm Plum Out of Wagner Now
February 12, 2007 11:20 AM   Subscribe

With the arrival of Das Liebesverbot last week, I now have a complete set of recordings of every completed opera Richard Wagner composed, even the ones rarely recorded or performed. I've been slowly acquiring more of Verdi's stuff, but I'm curious what other opera I should look for.

I've already got a few Verdi operas (La Traviata, Otello, and Macbeth), some Rossini (The Barber of Seville, William Tell (entire thing, even -- surprisingly uncommon)), Carmen, and a few Mozart operas (The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, and Don Giovanni.

So, any suggestions?
posted by Captain_Tenille to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into any 20th Century operas? How about The Love for Three Oranges?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:53 AM on February 12, 2007

It's hard to go wrong with Russian opera: Glinka, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev. And I highly recommend Berlioz; Les Troyens is perhaps the greatest little-known 19th-century opera. Pure genius.
posted by languagehat at 11:56 AM on February 12, 2007

Hmm, hadn't made it to the 20th Century yet. I think Otello is the most recent opera I have, with Parsifal as a close second.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 12:00 PM on February 12, 2007

Wagner named his two great operatic influences as Weber (Oberon, Die Freischuetz) and Beethoven (Fidelio). His personal favorite among Italian operas was Bellini's Norma.

If you like Rossini, you might want to look into Semiramide, La Donna del Lago, Armida, Ermione, L'assedio di Corinto or Mose among his serious operas and Le Comte Ory, L'italiana in Algeri, La Cenerentola and Il viaggio a Reims among the lighter works.

My favorite Verdi operas are Un ballo in maschera, Rigoletto and Don Carlos. Les Vepres Siciliennes (aka I vespri Siciliani) is also a very beautiful work.

The leading post-Wagnerian was Richard Strauss. Salome, Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten are wild and noisy; whereas Der Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos and Arabella are more mellow and wisftul.

And then there's video. There are several very fine DVD presentations of Wagner's Ring cycle, for example: a traditionally Romantic vision from the Met, a postmodern staging from Bayreuth directed by the genius Patrice Chereau are among them.
posted by La Cieca at 12:06 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Rossini's definitely talented, but also awfully light and airy. He's somewhat of a lower priority.

I'd love to have a traditional Ring, though: I've got the Boulez production from Bayreuth, but I'd still like the see an old fashioned production. I've got a Tannhauser from the Met where they look all medieval; it's pretty cool.

Weber and Meyerbeer are certainly on the list: while Die Feen and Das Liebesverbot aren't anything special, they aren't terrible beyond words and they're said to be pretty derivitive of Weber's works. Rienzi is supposed to be sort of similar to Meyerbeer's style. It's a pity it's so rarely performed or recorded (hell, I have two of them, and I don't think there's much else) -- it doesn't sound like "Wagner" so much, and it's pretty damn long, but it's a fine opera.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 12:44 PM on February 12, 2007

Catalani - La Wally - Ebben, Ne Andro (you tube)
posted by hortense at 1:25 PM on February 12, 2007

Wozzeck by Alban Berg.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:45 PM on February 12, 2007

Rossini's definitely talented, but also awfully light and airy.

Try William Tell sometime. It'll blow you away.

Further suggestions: Beethoven's Fidelio (I think I have more recordings of this than of any other opera), Monteverdi (where it all began, and amazingly tuneful and lively), and Gluck (not just Orfeo ed Euridice, but that's a good place to start; I think just about all his operas are available now, which is one of the great blessings of the CD era).
posted by languagehat at 1:56 PM on February 12, 2007

I've got William Tell, oddly enough. I've only listened to it once, though. I'll have to give it another go though after I'm done with the Wagner marathon I've set out on (after all, now that I have a complete set, I might as well listen to them all in a row).

Good suggestions with Monteverdi and Gluck. I almost picked up Handel's Serses once, but ended up passing on it, so I haven't actually listened to any Baroque opera yet. I'm not sure how much has been recorded, though: I've read a lot of Baroque operas are unperformable now, what with there not being anyone alive who can sing a lot of the parts.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 2:12 PM on February 12, 2007

Do you listen to the Met Opera broadcasts? This season is looking unusually interesting: next up, for example, is Janacek's Jenufa. Others I'd particularly recommend you try catching (or taping) are Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, Strauss's Die Aegyptische Helena, Handel's Giulio Cesare, Puccini's Il Trittico, and Gluck's Orgeo ed Euridice. A wide range of some truly fantastic music -- and the casting this season is particularly impressive.
posted by rob511 at 4:55 PM on February 12, 2007

If you love Wagner's sprawling scale/vision, definitely consider Stockhausen and his seven-opera Licht cycle.
posted by allterrainbrain at 4:56 PM on February 12, 2007

* snort, giggle *
Ummm, that's Orfeo ed Euridice by Gluck....

posted by rob511 at 4:57 PM on February 12, 2007

Try any of Janacek's operas. Jenůfa is probably my favourite.
posted by cbrody at 5:27 PM on February 12, 2007

Emphatically seconding the operas of Leoš Janáček and Richard Strauss.

Puccini is also fantastic if, as I do, you enjoy late Romantic gorgeousness.

Looking backward, I agree that Monteverdi and Gluck are great suggestions.

There's Shostakovich's masterpiece Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

I also enjoy some more modern works, like Per Nørgård's 1996 Nuit des Hommes, but I feel like this wouldn't be your style.
posted by musicinmybrain at 6:15 PM on February 12, 2007

Second on Alban Berg's Wozzeck, my favorite opera.

Another great 20th century one is Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes.

Definitely Strauss if you like Wagner.
posted by dfan at 2:50 PM on February 13, 2007

Fourthing Janáček/Jenůfa; the Mattila/Silja production at the Met has just now blown my mind. Though I hear the recording doesn't do justice to Anja Silja's incredibleness.
posted by xueexueg at 7:37 AM on February 14, 2007

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