If you're going to an opera for the first time, and you don't know the plot ahead of time, fantastic! You may be tempted to get a head start on the action to come, by reading the synopsis included in most programmes; try to resist the urge. It's a chance to experience an opera in a fresh way, to be surprised and shocked and saddened at all the right moments.
Readers, you've taken a liking to our series of Aria Guides, which offer tips to complement the work you do on repertoire with your teachers and coaches. Our latest guide is less about operatic arias, and more about that other powerful genre, the Christmas Carol. Our short and sweet list of caroling tips is for all holiday singers, professional and otherwise. So pick your favourite Christmas tune, and don't forget the joy!
Sometimes, readers, after a long day of scouring information on opera singers, we start to bemoan the fact that their bios don't really tell us anything about them. If any of you know an opera singer personally, go read their professional bio right now. Who is that person? They seem busy, but it's not clear why anyone should go and hear them sing.
On the one hand, this is great news. There are indeed operas - and good ones - written by women, and Saariaho's mesmerizing tale of 12th-century troubadour Jaufré Rudel is one of them. On the other hand, it's fairly stunning that after Der Wald, there was a 113-year wait for the Met (the Met, for goodness' sake!) to stage a second opera by a woman composer.
The obvious choice, really. There's the creepy castle; the weird, cold relationship between Bluebeard and his new bride; the secret rooms; the clear intimacy issues; the dead ex-wives. The music, though, is the scariest thing about Bartòk's opera; the score sounds like something Bernard Herrmann would have written for a Hitchcock film, and it seems to waver unnaturally between uncomfortably soft and impossibly loud. Kind of like a scary, abusive husband.
Often, opera titles get whittled down to one indicative word in the full title. Instead of The Magic Flute, it's just Flute, the same way it's just Ballo, not Un ballo in maschera. Così rarely needs the fan tutte in general conversation, Fanciulla will do without the del West, and The Turn of the is redundant when we're talking about Screw. It's Dialogues, but no Carmélites, Elixir with an assumption of Love, and one can just say Rake, with the Progress implied.
Readers, we've discovered a new game. If you head over to Plot Generator, you can fill in a form that creates your own short story (sort of like Mad Libs). It's kind of fun on its own, but there's a nerdy twist to it.
Right up there with Donizetti's Tudor Queens, the hypothetical opera about Michelle Obama is packed with some serious history. The election of Barack Obama exposed the real racism that still exists in the United States; yet at the same time, the Obamas set a new bar for humanity and class among politicians.
To be clear, readers, this bit of grumbling isn't meant to say, "look how bad the average person's rhythm is!" It's truly an impressive feat to master the art of keeping a beat. It's a skill that makes a stellar beat-boxer, and adds to the value of a great drummer.
We liken this video by Juan Pablo Zaramella to every production of *La bohème*. Every time we weep (either at the return of the *cuffietta*, or when Musetta is nice, or at the very least at "coraggio!"), we feel like yelling at long-dead Puccini, "you did not earn those tears honourably! These are cheap tricks!"