Monday, April 22, 2019

Gaetano Donizetti, Rita (1860)

The story on wikipedia is that while Donizetti was waiting around for a libretto to be ready for him, he ran into Gustave Vaëz, who had written the libretto for Lucia di Lammermoor, and asked him if he could write a short something so he'd have something to occupy himself in the meantime. Vaëz dashed out this one-acter, and the rest is history. Sort of. It wasn't performed until after Donizetti's death, however.
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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Charles Gounod, Faust (1859)

This was the first opera that the Met produced in their inaugural season in 1883. That's fun fact. It was popular then, and it's popular now. It's basically the Faust story, similarly though not identically presented to La damnation de Faust. I do not have that much more to say about it, except that it really is pretty terrific: great music, great drama.
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Friday, April 19, 2019

George Frideric Handel, Rodelinda (1725)

So Bertarido is a king, of somewhere-or-other, only his throne has been usurped by Grimoaldo, a duke of somewhere-or-other, taking Rodelinda, Bertarido's wife, prisoner. Grimoaldo hopes to marry Rodelinda (even though he'd previously been involved with her sister-in-law, Eduige), since Bertarido is thought to be dead. But surprise twist! He's not. And with the aid of the loyal counsellor Unulfo, Eduige and Rodelinda are able to restore him to the throne and kill the evil counsellor Garibaldo and Grimoaldo regrets his ways and gets back together with Eduige and is forgiven and truly everyone is happy.
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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Christoph Willibald Gluck, Iphigénie en Tauride (1779)

Shows what I know: I thought the premise of this opera was some wild-ass fanfiction, but no, it turns out that it's largely based on a Euripides play. That's what I get for not knowing my Greek drama as well as I should! My punishment is harsh yet just.
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Monday, April 15, 2019

Claudio Monteverdi, Orfeo (1607)

So I guess it's debatable whether this is actually the first opera per se, but it's certainly one of the first, and certainly the first that's actually performed these days. I did want to see Euridice, but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere.
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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Hector Berlioz, La damnation de Faust (1846)

There's some uncertainty as to whether this should be considered an opera; it's more often performed just as a concert due to Staging Difficulties. But I dunno; it sure looked like an opera to me, and according to Wikipedia, Berlioz wanted it to be while conceding that, due to technological limits of the time, it didn't really work as such. But now we have no limits! We can do anything! ANYTHING!!!  Except run a democratic society.  Oh well.
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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Alban Berg, Lulu (1937/1979)'s this. It's an opera, called be Some--by which I mean the people in the backstage interviews--as the Greatest Twentieth Century Opera. Berg left it unfinished at his death, but it was subsequently completed based on his notes by Friederich Cerha (boy, there's a name that means nothing to either you or me) in 1979, and that version is now considered standard.
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