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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Love it or... plug your ears: opera!

Number 3 of the musical trilogy! Please don't hesitate to visit the previous posts for more beautiful music!

Like Brussels sprouts, opera is one of those things that one has to get used to. An acquired taste.

As for Brussels sprouts, however, I believe that early exposition is the best way to develop a long lasting appreciation of it.

You see me coming, right? It might not have been premeditated, but my mom did expose us to opera right from our younger years. As I imagine it is the case for many opera enthusiasts, my entry door to opera was Verdi; he is indeed one of the more approachable composers. Most of us know his melodies (without necessarily knowing they are his). Listen to those and tell us if you've heard them before! I bet you have (if you're not sure to recognize the beginning, just fast-forward a little bit further in the excerpt)!


La Traviata

Il Trovatore



Verdi was the first reason why I decided to learn Italian, some 15 years ago. I wanted to know what they were all so happy about! (Turns out they're not always happy, contrary to what the music leads you to believe.) Plus, Verdi operas were not the only ones written in la lingua dell'amore.

Some other well-known examples of Italian opera include Rossini (you know this one!):

Il barbiere di Siviglia

And Mozart!

Le nozze di Figaro

The following ones (respectively by Dvorak and Mozart), however, still hold secrets for me as I do not speak Czech nor German. The music talks to me anyways! (Plus, there's always the surtitles.) Listen and see if it talks to you too!


Die Zauberflote

It took me more time to appreciate less "happy" operas, like Puccini's. Other examples include CatalaniCilea, Flotow, GiordanoLeoncavallo and Wagner. (To discover them, click on the names.)

But my mom had more tricks up her sleeve: during our teenage years, she bought season tickets to l'Opéra de Montréal for the whole family!

Opera being what it is, it grows on you. And grow on us it did. I love it all now! What do you think of opera?

If it's the voices you don't like so much, here are two wonderful opera excerpts that are solely instrumental.

Mascagni - Cavalleria Rusticana

Verdi  - La Traviata

I was planning to give a little "course" on French opera within this post, but as it turns out, it's already long enough as it is. I'm afraid I will have to write a sequel to this musical trilogy! Do not miss it, as French opera contains pure gems! Stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you want more on opera, take a look at this great blog!


  1. I am not an opera fanatic, but I do recognize a lot of the music you put here.... I know more than I thought!! :)

    1. I knew it! :-) People know much more opera than they think!

  2. Ah... Dmitri Hvorostovsky, l'OSM et Charles Dutoit. Purrr...

    Je recommande aussi Nathalie Dessay chantant l'air de la poupée (Les oiseaux dans la charmille) d'Offenbach dans cette version :

    et un autre tour de force:

    Plusieurs auront reconnu des airs que nous avons entendu dans des publicités. Celui-ci est moins connu, mais j'aime beaucoup cette soprano:

    Pour les impatients, commencer à 3:30. Maintenant la question quiz: dans quelle publicité cet air est-il joué?

    1. Magnifico! Je me les garde en réserve pour le post sur l'opéra français!

      Et bravo à Netrebko!

  3. Et la pub, tu as trouvé?

  4. Ça nous a pris du temps à trouver, après avoir entendu la pub, parce que cet opéra est moins connu que d'autres...

    1. Trop drôle! J'avais FAILLI proposer Viagra ou Cialis!!! :-)

      Ça devait être dans mon subconscient.

  5. Maintenant, pour montrer à certains et certaines, dont A, ce que c'est que de mal chanter l'opéra, il faut lui faire écouter la contre-diva, Mme Foster Jenkins, lorsqu'elle massacre Mozart!

    1. Oui, et là, je pense qu'on pourra dire que je chante mieux! Quoi que les notes les plus hautes... ouch...