What Opera Means To MeI do not read music or play and instrument but have participated in musical productions,
Opera for me involves not just beautiful arias and music from talented composers. It requires not the most technically skilled and powerful singers but those who can act. It involves directors and producers with having an understanding of the scenes and characters they are trying to project on stage.
It involves a conductor and orchestra being sensitive to all that is happening.A good illustration for this is "La Boheme" Some will disagree with me but up at the front for me is Bernstein conducting and directing this. If you follow the original Italian libretto you will see that the composer almost paints a picture for every word.and Bernstein belongs to the small group of conductors that want you to hear clearly Puccini's intentions. With sub-titles available on screen it is so much easier to understand the libretto
Strangely for me a runner up is Puccini - La Boheme / Baz Luhrmann, The Australian Opera (2002 Edition) (1994). With a young energetic cast this is a sensitive production well worth having to compare with older traditional versions with superb diva singing casts but that fail in the area of acting skills.
The only credentials I can offer to express such viewpoints is that I was absolutely stunned by a Russian interpretation of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty with the Kirov Ballet and their conductor Viktor Fedotov. What had previously seemed ommpah band unison orchestral work became journeys of exploration and conversations between different orchestral sections.
Conductor, orchestra and dancers gave eloquently timed and paced performances working together as a team, Viktor to our delight was later appointed to Covent Garden.It's all a question of emotion and I can still be moved to tears by parts of "La Boheme" and even just the overture to "La Traviata" in the recent New York Met production just involving Natalie Dessalie walking slowly across an empty stage.......................Enjoy !!
PS I have just completed a review on Amazon of the latest version of "La Boheme" from Opera Australia and you will see that I recommend the older version set in the 1950s Pairs to this newest one set in 1930's Germany