Welcome! This blog explores opera – the warhorses, the familiar, those you may have heard of in a reference book, and the very obscure indeed.
We live in an extraordinary age. The average person has more access to opera than at any time in the past.
The great houses of the world – the Met in New York, La Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House in London, the Paris Opéra – broadcast their productions to millions around the world.
You can find a recording of nearly any opera you name on YouTube. (Want to know what Canepa’s Riccardo III, Kreutzer’s Nachtlager in Granada or Godard’s Dante are like?)
Scores and contemporary musical criticism are on IMSLP and the Internet Archive, while l’Art Lyrique Français is a staggering compendium of French opera. Gallica, the Bibliothèque nationale de France’s website, has illustrations, costumes, and set designs from the original productions. The Archivio storico Ricordi has a wealth of iconography from Verdi to verismo.
What is performed today, though, is only the tip of the proverbial. Many obscure operas are just as good as those everybody knows.
They may, though, only be known in their home country. (Moniuszko’s Straszny dwór and Paliashvili’s Abesalom da Eteri are wonderful, but not played outside Poland and Georgia.)
They may have failed in their lifetime, or they may have been enormously popular for decades and then disappeared (Meyerbeer).
Even giants like Strauss and Wagner composed operas that deserve to be better known. (There are fine things in Friedenstag and Feuersnot, while Das Liebesverbot is more fun than Tristan und Isolde.)
And some forgotten operas do deserve to be forgotten – but it’d be interesting to find out why.
You might also be interested in my other writings on opera:
- Fromental Halévy and His Operas, 1799–1841. Co-written with Robert Ignatius Letellier; 455 pp. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 1 May 2021.
Sample chapters on Google Books.
- Fromental Halévy and His Operas, 1842–1862. Co-written with Robert Ignatius Letellier; 620 pp. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 1 May 2021.
Sample chapters on Google Books.
- Adolphe Adam: Master of the Romantic Ballet and Opéra-Comique. Co-written with Robert Ignatius Letellier. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming.
- Meyerbeer L’Étoile du nord NAXOS 8.660498-500
Review of Meyerbeer’s opéra-comique, 1996 Wexford. July 2022.
- Gounod Faust DIVINE ART DDH27810
Review of Gounod’s Faust, 1920 Milan. June 2017.
- Ferdinand Hérold
Overview of French opera composer. April 2017.
- The Operas of Charles Gounod
Overview of French opera composer. February 2017.
- Ernest Reyer: Disciple of Berlioz
Overview of French composer. September 2016.
- Jules Massenet – His Life and Operas
Overview of French opera composer. August 2016.
- Giacomo Meyerbeer: A Listening Guide
Overview of opera composer. December 2015.
- Meyerbeer: From Berlin to India
Article on Meyerbeer’s opera Vasco de Gama. October 2015.
- Handel: Alcina
Review of National Opera’s production. 10 December 2022.
- La Juive: Grandest of the Grand
Preview of Opera Australia production of Halévy’s opera; interviews with director Constantine Costi and singers Natalie Aroyan and Diego Torre. 21 February 2022.
- Saint-Saëns: Proserpine
Review of recording of Saint-Saëns’s opera Proserpine. 6 October 2017.
- Méhul: Uthal
Review of recording of Méhul’s opera Uthal. 11 August 2017.
- Meyerbeer in France (Hjördis Thébault)
Review of recording of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s French operas. Published in the December print issue. 19 January 2017.
- Gounod: Cinq-Mars
Review of recording of Charles Gounod’s opera Cinq-Mars. Editor’s Choice; published in the September print issue. 21 October 2016.
- Review: La Favorita (Palace Opera & Ballet)
Review of cinema broadcast of Donizetti’s opera La Favorite from La Fenice. 25 July 2016.
- Review: Sequenza Italiana (Australian Chamber Orchestra)
Review of concert by Sicilian cellist and composer Giovanni Sollima. Published in the August print issue. 27 June 2016.
- Lost Mozart cantata has Australian premiere in Canberra
News story about Australian premiere of lost Mozart work. 21 April 2016.