What Opera Means To Me

I 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

Jerryattic Jerryattic
51-55, M
2 Responses Dec 29, 2012

Contralto aria from "The Enchanted Island"

This contralto aria was one of the most moving I have ever heard and so well acted! What a magnificent effort from Metropoitan Opera in converting a huge stage into creating a production in accord with the period. The orchestra was so authentic too. A few hours in an entriely different world of beautiful music, superb acting, and clearly sung English words CONGRATULATIONS to all involved (PS Neptune in this clip is performed by Placido singing baritone)

Opera does require very technically skilled and powerful singers because although one of the most beautiful and passionate art forms, it is one of the most difficult to master. Opera singers train for countless years to try to master the art of singing. If opera singers aren't sharp on their technical skills then it would be hard to focus on the emotional part of opera.

Agree with you 100% - not only do today's singers leading need to be a skilled and powerful for the Opera House they must be good actors or actresses as well - particularly those choosing performances that are broadcast or recorded as DVD's.

PS Your profile has an age linked block on it. Was interested to know if you are participating in training and examinations for singing or participating in any productions.

I am sure you are aware of the need to keep all discussion in the open and not to exchange any personal messages. My profile might give you, your parents or EP concern,but I will say that it relates exclusively to activities involving consensual adults.

In real life I am a licensed coach and have undergone in depth criminal record bureau and police checks. I have also attended mandatory courses on child welfare and protection. I therefore have an interest in ensuring EP is kept as a safe place for youngsters.
I will "flag" my own message here so that moderators are aware of my attempts to discuss things with a younger person.
Take care and wishing you every success in the New Year

At the end of the day the greatest risk of abuse to young people comes from within their own families, from friends or others known to the victim.

I am a high schooler and I take voice lessons and am planning on pursuing a vocal performance and education degree. I currently am not participating in any operas, but I will be playing Sarah Brown in my high school's production of Guys and Dolls.

Hope all goes well. Guess you would be too modest to admit that to getting a lead part in a High School Production means you are a good performer (it does in the UK where things are quite competitive)

Was looking on Youtube for some videos from Guys and Dolls and there are some recordings of good amateur productions. Sadly some of the best productions were let down by poor videos. Do you have any favourite links?

I am regarded as reasonably competent on video work and some of my efforts on spontaneous live recordings can be found on my channel

Will your High School be allowed to video the production and let you have a copy ?

Wonder if performing will be your main objective or you also have thoughts about teaching or production?

It was quite competitive here in the US as well :) I thought I had a pretty good chance because I had a strong audition.
I haven't been looking on Youtube as much but I have been watching the Guys and Dolls movie(the Sinatra and Brando version). I have drawn a lot from the acting in that video.
I looked at some of your videos and they are great! Very clear audio and video. Nice work :)
My mom has a nice camera and usually takes a video of the whole production-my school is not too strict on that.
As far as my main objective in college, I am torn between teaching and performing. I absolutely love performing, but I don't know where I stand and if I have the chops to really make it by only performing. And I don't know if I like teaching or not, because I have never had that experience. Which is why I want to do a dual degree program where I will be able to receive training in both fields and whichever one works out I will be all set.

Firstly I wish you a very successful and happy New Year.

My two best holiday broadcasts of Opera and Ballet were:-

Rossinni’s “Cenerentola” live from Turin’s palaces. Superb example of all characters believing the story they were telling. Some quartets were beautiful and some outstandingly angry!


“Alice in Wonderland by The Royal Ballet” True magic or illusion on stage and the music was so fitting to the story.


Our daughter used to do a lot of examinations and awards for acting. Wonder if your parents recognise a transformation from their daughter to a different character on stage. I don’t think we ever thought “That is our daughter on stage” as she was indeed a different person.

Wonder if you see this ability in yourself and others to be actually living the character?

The nearest I have come to being a character was in the chorus of “My Fair Lady” when the sun rose on “I’m getting married in the morning”. For a moment I forgot I was on stage and the warmth of the lighting truly became sunshine. It must be wonderful as a good actor or actress to create these inner feelings and beliefs and project them to the audience.

Your initial message here was so positive and self assured.

I hope, whatever inner doubts your may have, you will be able to project determination to be an actress if that is your goal. It should not necessarily be for money or success but to lead a life where you are “working” and enjoying your “work”

In UK is seems that RADA and the recognised drama or stage schools have the contacts in the business to get their pupils roles. Will the same apply on your proposed course? Just concerned about how you might fare against a dedicated lass with acting as her only skill but who has the support of a recognised school

Good teachers are like good actors! It’s not just what you know but it is knowing how to convey this to your pupils Coaching (or in your case teaching) is wonderful when all is well but very frustrating if you cannot get those ideas across

Thanks for your kind comments on my videos and certainly having good quality equipment helps keep things steady and in focus! The exposures and sound control on my new Sony is quite outstanding. I have not looked at my channel for a month and was surprised at the latest viewing figure. Watch out James Cameron!

You have an interesting EP name. May I ask to whom or what you are hopelessly devoted? Could it be singing or drama?

Would be delighted to help you if you would like to make further points.


Happy New Year to you, too!

Wow, both the ballet and opera look amazing! Must have been a great experience.

Yes, I think my parents are actually very surprised by how different I act when on stage. I have always taken voice lessons, and some dance when I was little. But never acting. So I think they were shocked to see that I was capable of acting.

And I do see it in myself. I am not very good at seeing the transformation during rehearsals, but in front of an audience it is clear to see. And I have seen it in others, as well.
And I love My Fair Lady. But honestly, I don't think I am an incredible actress. I think I am ok, but my high point is definitely singing. When I really get into the music, then the acting comes very naturally because it is not really acting, it is feeling. My goal is mostly the singing, but I know acting will be necessary as well.

In the US we don't really have any 'recognized schools with contacts'. It's more of just choosing the right colleges to apply to that suit what you want to accomplish and that will make it easier to get there.

Congrats on the views on your channel. You are an excellent videographer. :)

My EP name- I think I was listening to the song 'Hopelessly Devoted to you' from Grease when I was creating an account on here, so I just used it. Not much thought behind it :)

Great to hear from you again.

Hope our chats are helping you to define your goals :)

Underlying all seems you love of singing and I am wondering if it is a must for you to do opera.

Possibly, in comparison with others in your age group, you already have music reading and voice projections skills from formal singing lessons?

Your love of singing, acting and communication with an audience are excellent foundations for a future professional career.

Can you be moved to tears by singing certain music?

I am thinking right now of intense emotions in watching a video of the death scene in Giselle performed by the Kirov. The Prima Ballerina Assoluta was so involved with the music, dance and character that she was in tears. Confess to sharing them!

Have you thought about pop or light classical music?

Star quality is so difficult to define. What enables one person to hold the rapt attentions of an audience of thousands in an arena? Guess much comes from experience and that can come from doing a large number of perhaps small gigs or through luck at winning a talent show and getting expert coaching and promotional support

Congratulations too on your eloquent and clear communications. Do you by any chance also show talents as a writer or artist?

PS In school my daughter was very reluctant stand out from the crowd by being too good at anything! Often those trying to achieve were targeted for bullying or they were made to feel unhappy. Are things all OK in your school?

This is definitely helping :)

I think opera is definitely a priority for me because I seem to be able to relate to opera so much more than pop or other music genres. Although I do sing pop music sometimes(because people love it), opera is my number one. Opera also tends to showcase my voice much better(how often are there high D's or E's in pop songs?).

And yes, I am a great sight-reader and have been taking formal voice lessons for a while so I could try other genres of music, but so far opera is the only genre I have really latched onto.

I have been moved to tears a few times when singing really beautiful music. The first time I performed 'O mio babbino caro' from puccini's gianni schicchi at a talent competition, I was able to get so into character that I cried. Also, beautiful french art songs have made me cry sometimes. But the number one song that really made me cry was not when I was singing, but while I was watching an opera. I saw Madama Butterfly and when 'Un bel di Vedremo' was sung, it was so beautiful that I was sobbing.

Star quality is indeed quite difficult to define. I don't think there really is a set definition, but I do think it is someone who uses their natural instrument(no auto-tune) to create beautiful music that touches other people's hearts.

I definitely am not an artist(I can draw stick figures!), but I am in Advanced Placement Literature and hope to be a good writer. Not as a career, but I would like to sound competent when I have to write essays in college. So I am working hard on writing skills. Plus, literature and music interact so much-I know of so many songs that use poems as lyrics.

Bullying is not a huge issue that affects me. I know that there are others at my school who have had to deal with it, and the only stuff I have really seen personally is jealousy. When the cast list for Guys and Dolls was announced a few weeks ago, there were many girls who were pretty irritated that I got the lead because I am not a senior and seniority is a big thing at my school(especially when 50 girls auditioned for 2 female leads). But I don't take it personally because I know that they don't really mean it, and I know how it feels to not get the part, too.

Hello - I was thinking of writing about the sequence of the film "Diva" and how the concert performance of "La Wally" conveyed the feeling that I had as a young man to my favourite opera singers. I loved Wilhelma's voice on the orginal film but the track on YouTube seems a little distorted.


Instead of looking at various performances of this aria thought it would be helpful to look at your favourite of "O mio babbino caro"

I have therefore posted a new Question about this aria on:-


Hope you may have time to make a few points there and we get some discussion going with others too.

Just my first reactions. Montserrat Caballe move me to tears the first time I watched her performance. Guess I was thinking of the late Freddy Mercury saying that she had the most beautiful voice in the world and he wanted to work with her. You probably know he achieved this dream before he died. The second time I watched Monstserrat was still able to move me and it seemed magic the way she was able to do this.
Maybe I am showing my ignorance here but my number two was probably Angela Gheorghiu showing great warmth in tone and controlled emotion. Renee Fleming worked up to an emotional climax. The wee lass Jackie Evancho is very talented but of course is relying on the microphone at the present time. My surprise was hitting a link for Miruisa Louwerse who I had not heard of before. I was astounded that I could find only poor amateur videos of her performances. The restaurant performance of opera and light music was interesting. Thought I would chalk up my markings as a talent scout when I at last found a professional recording of her appearance on the Andre Riu show. Looks like she may have been doing the circuits until getting on a major TV program.

for and on behalf of the Hopelesslydevoted fan club :)

I have never seen Diva, but I will see if I can watch it soon. The singer in the link is extremely talented, and I loved hearing her.

I answered the question you asked-the links you found for a few of them were very good.
I didn't know about Freddie Mercury wanting to work with Montserrat Caballe. That is so sweet of him to say!

Hello again!

Glad you too saw the "Question" as an opportunity to extend and open our broader discussions here to others .

On a more personal note.

How are you placed for party or audition pieces? I could imagine "The Daughter of the Regiment" ironing scene might, in the right situation, make you stand out from the competition. OTH it might not be a good idea to try and copy Natalie Dessay! So.................... What about preparing a meal for the soldiers instead? It could be funny if she moves from food to dirty jobs or disgusting behaviour! I am just imagining now how difficult it is to block out a small scene like this to fit in with the music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwfGFgWRfd4 (Dessay -Hoffman)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=499TQjLEbks (Dessay-Regiment)

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