Opera For Beginners

Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Janacek’s ‘From the House of the Dead’
Premiering on April 12, 1930, “From the House of the Dead” is the final opera composed by Leos Janacek. Adapted from the novel of the same name written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, this opera is distinct from others composed by Janacek as it does not deal with themes of love. This work explores isolation and the past deeds of men held within a Serbian prison camp. When Janacek passed away in…
Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Ponchielli’s Dark ‘La Gioconda’
Amilcare Ponchielli’s “La Gioconda,” which had its world premiere on April 8, 1876, has never been a major staple of the repertoire. In the mid-1900s, the work, which was written by Arrigo Boito, was a vehicle for star sopranos and tenors due to its expansive arias and endlessly melodic passages. But in recent years, the work has garnered less interest overall. It is a truly dark opera with murder, suicide,…
Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Strauss II’s Perennial New Year’s Classic, ‘Die Fledermaus’
Johan Strauss II’s most famous operetta is undeniably “Die Fledermaus.” Filled with intoxicating tunes and a hilarious story, the work, which had its world premiere on April 5, 1874, has become a touchstone of many New Year’s Eve celebration. The work was written by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée and remains a major repertory staple around the world. Short Plot Summary Gabriel Von Eisenstein has been sentenced to prison. His…
Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Tchaikovsky’s Eerie & Tragic ‘The Queen of Spades’
“The Queen of Spades” premiered on the same exact day as Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” though admittedly a few years later. The composer was already 11 years older between operas and the second work is far more nuanced in its orchestral colors and how the composer weaves together a far more complex plot. It remains the famed Russian composer’s second-most popular work, though it is performed infrequently, requiring a major tenor…
Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’
Tchaikovsky wrote several operas throughout his career, but none have stood the test of time quite like “Eugene Onegin.” The opera, which opened on March 29, 1879, is renowned for its sweeping melodic pulse and the tremendous emotional punch that Tchaikovsky punches throughout. The work is based on Pushkin’s famed novel and verse. Short Plot Summary Onegin and his friend Lensky visit the Larin estate where they run into Tatiana…
Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Umberto Giordano’s ‘Andrea Chénier’
Umberto Giordano will forever be remembered for one opera, “Andrea Chénier.” The work, which world premiered on March 28, 1896, remains renowned for its sweeping romantic melodies, becoming a major vehicle for the star tenor that is tasked with four major solo passages on top of two extended duets with soprano. The opera’s famed aria “La Mamma Morta” has become a pop culture icon in Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia.” Short Plot…
Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Gounod’s Iconic ‘Faust’
Premiering at the Theatre Lyrique of Paris on March 19, 1859, “Faust” is adapted from the poem by Goethe, which follows Dr. Faust and his ordeals after entering into a contract with a minion of the devil, Mephistopheles. Despite a lukewarm opening, the opera made a number of revisions before a revival 10 years later, and would be frequently performed by the Paris Opera. It has held the stage ever…
Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Verdi’s Timeless ‘Macbeth’
Verdi’s “Macbeth,” simply put, is one of the operas that defines his early period. The work, which had its world premiere on March 14, 1847, didn’t go as planned. Being a lover of Shakespeare, the composer put everything he could into making it one of his finest works. In its first version, it flopped and some even called into question his respect for the Bard. Verdi so loved this opera…
Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Verdi’s Major Turning Point, ‘Rigoletto’
Premiering on March 11, 1851, “Rigoletto” is one of Verdi’s most popular operas, opening with great acclaim which cemented its place in the operatic repertoire. The libretto, written by Francesco Maria Piave, is adapted from Victor Hugo’s play “Le roi s’amuse,” which had been banned in France for its scandalous depiction of a womanizing monarch.  Despite the many troubles posed by the Austrian Board of Censors, Verdi and Piave were…
Opera For Beginners
Opera Profile: Verdi’s ‘Ernani’
Verdi’s “Ernani” is one of his early masterworks that remains at the forefront of the repertory. The work, which premiered on March 9, 1844, isn’t performed nearly as some of the later and more popular works, but it is a massive showcase for the four lead singers, particularly the tenor. The work itself represented the first time that the “Verdi tenor” came into full-blooded existence and its plethora of melodies…