This was another opera that I really did watch in my pyjamas, one Sunday night before a recent public holiday, because I get really wild on the weekends. It’s basically the story of Rosina, the teenaged ward of Bartolo, a doctor prone to fits of rage who is effectively keeping Rosina under house arrest until she’s of an age that he can marry her for her dowry. And, probably, the sex.
A wet and windy Saturday morning provided the perfect excuse to curl up in front of an opera, and this time I decided to go with one of the acknowledged masterpieces of the great anti-Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), Aida.
Commissioned for the new opera house in Cairo in 1870, Aida was first performed in 1871. Set in Ancient Egypt against the background of ongoing military conflict between Egypt and the rival kingdom of Ethiopia, the story centres on the tragic romance between a captured Ethiopian princess, Aida, and the captain of the Egyptian guard, Radames. To be on the safe side I will at this point state that slavery, and specifically the enslavement of Black (Ethiopian) Africans, is central to the plot, and anyone who finds this distressing should probably avoid this opera and the rest of this post, which will include a plot summary. Continue reading “Opera in my Pyjamas: Verdi’s ‘Aida’ (1871)”→
I’ll be honest: I did not enjoy Tristan and Isolde. I tried. I really, really did. But I just didn’t like it. By the time it finally reached its conclusion, after four hours which felt like much, much longer, all I could think was ‘for pity’s sake, this would have been over a lot sooner if Brangane had just let you drink the effing poison to begin with.’
I really did watch this opera in my pyjamas, when I had to take a day off work sick a couple of weeks ago. The version I watched was a 1995 production by the BBC, which you can view here. Being a BBC production it was basically filmed as a musical movie rather than recorded from the stage, and with all the resources of the BBC at their disposal the set and costume designers appear to have delighted in mashing up the styles of ancient Carthage and Restoration England, with a healthy dose of pyromania just for kicks. The end result may not be exactly what Purcell had in mind (at least, I’m guessing he probably didn’t intend for his opera to include nudity and prostitutes), but it was certainly visually interesting.
Having finally upgraded my internet to a whole 40GB a month, I have more data than I know what to do with. So, what does an admittedly slightly odd person do with so much data? Why not Google a list of the world’s most famous operas and see what YouTube can produce?
Of course, watching an opera on my computer screen is nothing like watching it live on stage, but there are a few advantages. Like being able to watch it in my pyjamas. And not having to pay a small fortune for a ticket. And being able to watch the world’s greatest operas not one day, when they reach my little corner of the world, but here and now from the comfort of my own living room. With sub-titles. Continue reading “Opera in my Pyjamas: The Marriage of Figaro”→
Opera Week was my first experience of opera (apart from one I went to in high school, which may or may not have been Bizet’s ‘Carmen’, and about which I can honestly remember absolutely nothing), but I’ve loved musicals since I was a teenager and have been fortunate enough to attend a number of them over the years. Opera and Musicals are two different things, but I started asking myself ‘where does that difference lie?’ Continue reading “Spot the Difference: Opera and Musical”→
With one of the oldest surviving opera houses in New Zealand, it is perhaps no surprise that Wanganui hosts an opera week for the New Zealand Opera School every January. Having no experience with opera, this year I decided their Great Opera Moments concert would be an excellent opportunity to introduce myself to it. Continue reading “Wanganui Opera Week”→