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Lucia di Lammermoor Bellini Donizetti Lyric Opera of Chicago New to opera Pavarotti Rossini Sutherland 

What is bel canto?

With Lyric Opera of Chicago’s opening of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, a prime example of the Italian style known as bel canto, this weekend, I thought now would be a good time for a little refresher. So, what exactly is bel canto? “Opera buffs today use the term bel canto all the time. Yet we each seem to bring a different set of assumptions to the concept.” -Anthony Tommasini, New York Times Bel canto literally translates to “beautiful singing,” and it was a popular singing style in Italian opera from…

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Lyric Opera of Chicago Metropolitan Opera Minnesota Opera New to opera 

The performances to see early this 2016 / 2017 season

It’s an intoxicating time of year for operagoers! The 2016/2017 opera season is just beginning, and it looks like it’s going to be a fantastic year! Here are a few of the biggest productions to keep your eyes on this fall… The Metropolitan Opera is opening its season with Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde next week on Monday, September 26, 2016. This revolutionary work is often viewed as one of the earliest pieces to take definitive steps away from tonal music, as represented by the famous Tristan chord, an integral part…

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Lucia di Lamermermoor, Mad Scene Bellini Donizetti Mozart New to opera Styles, definitions, and more Sutherland Verdi 

Mad Scenes

  They were all the rage in the early 19th century, a time when bel canto dominated the operatic stage. The vast majority of mad scenes were written for the leading soprano, providing her the ultimate opportunity to showcase her skills. Many of these pieces are extremely demanding, full of expressive and challenging coloratura passages. Here are some of the most famous mad scenes in the canon… “Il dolce suono” from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, sung by the masterful Joan Sutherland in one of her signature roles. The piece was…

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Behind the Curtain, Romeo and Juliet Gounod Minnesota Opera New to opera 

Behind the Curtain, Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, @mnopera

On September 14, 2016, a little after 7:00 p.m., Peter Mercer-Taylor made Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette come alive for me for the first time at the Minnesota Opera Behind the Curtain event at the Minnesota Opera Center in Minneapolis’s North Loop district. This rather obscure mid-19th century opera has never had a consistent place in the canon, but after Mercer-Taylor’s lecture, I wonder if it deserves one. 00

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Most Popular Operas Mozart New to opera Puccini Rossini Verdi 

Top 10 Most Popular Operas in the World

Here are the ten most popular operas by number of performances according to Operabase, perhaps the world’s greatest organizer of data relating to the world of opera. The figures apply to the 2015/2016 season. Verdi appears twice, Puccini and Mozart three times each, and Bizet and Rossini both once. La traviata, by Verdi. This masterpiece was performed a whopping 4190 times in the 2015/2016 season. Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), by Mozart. This singspiel moved up from number seven in 2014/2015 to number two! This work is full of magic…

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Recitative Mozart New to opera Recitative Rossini Verdi 

What is recitative?

You may have heard the term recitative when you hear people talk about opera, but what exactly is recitative? This is my definition of recitative – any semi-spoken, semi-sung non-repetitive part of an opera that advances the action. Typically, the earlier the opera is, the easier it is to distinguish between recitative and other operatic sections, such as arias or ensemble pieces. Don’t just take my word for it; listen to the great Leonard Bernstein talk about recitative… +10

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Where to begin…

Many people (shall we say most?) find opera somewhat inaccessible. I get that – it’s old, boring, and sung in foreign languages. It’s also not easy to break free from the “it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings” vibe; how often is opera depicted in shows, movies, or cartoons as some fat lady with brass chest plates belting out god-knows-what over an 80 member orchestra? My goal: 00

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