Note: this is a new A series that introduces Denver Gazette readers to various cultural forms with the help of experts from local arts organizations. First, Opera 101.
Before my father died, he gave me a list of 10 operas I absolutely must see in my lifetime. But unless his 147 (or so it seems) attendance at “Rent” counts instead of “La Bohème,” I still think he has 10 operas that he really must see in life. i have a book
After 20 years of covering live theater, I’m now an “art” columnist here at the Denver Gazette. It’s not due to lack of enthusiasm. That’s because I’ve seen 150 plays and musicals a year for the last 20 years.
be interested. Or as Greg Carpenter, General and Artistic Director of Opera Colorado, calls me, “I’m interested in opera.” Perhaps you are too. On my free days, I poke my nose into the Denver Art Museum. Step into the Becher Concert Hall as Gregory Alan Isakov backs the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Simply enter the daily “Hamilton” lottery, believing you have a good chance of winning in Hadestown. A vampire ballet at Halloween’s Wonderbound? All in. But opera?
“They have opera in their heads, but they’re a little intimidated by it, they’re in groups and they want to do other things, so they can’t take the plunge,” Carpenter said. I couldn’t,” he said.
After all, we are many. Earlier this year, Opera Colorado’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining attracted a large number of “opera fans.”
“That show brought in 2,000 new ticket buyers from 34 states,” says Carpenter. “And 197 of them came back to see ‘Carmen’.
As Opera Colorado enters its 40th season with Rigoletto this week, I asked Carpenter to play my role as Obi Wan. Taught me crash course on Opera 101. he was very kind. And why? After all, we are hanging fruits. A little introduction to how the tutorial went. Feel free to help yourself.
First, I learned that opera began in Italy more than 400 years ago to revive ancient Greek classical drama. It was named “opera” from the plural form of “opus” which means “work”. Therefore, ‘opera’ literally means ‘work’. Given that opera throws everything, this makes sense. Alright, enough history lessons. let’s have fun.
John Moore: What’s the first thing you should know about opera?
Greg Carpenter: I sometimes think that people who have never been to an opera are all Wagner and Norse mythology and horned women. In fact, the tried-and-true grand opera we present tells a story that is still very relevant today… The Romantic Triangle. political conspiracy. revenge and deceit. If you sit down and binge-watch a series on Netflix, you’ll get essentially the exact same story as an opera written 150 years ago.
JM: what is an example?
GC: See “Tosca”. A police chief uses his power and authority to coerce women into having sex. She was forced to do so in order to save the man she loved from execution. That’s #MeToo. Police brutality. As we enter her 2022, these stories still resonate with the modern world we live in.
JM: So what are the three key titles to cover first?
GC: ‘La Bohème’ definitely tops the list. On the comedy side, say ‘The Barber of Seville’ iconized by ‘Bugs Bunny’. and “Carmen”. Those are the things I see attracting a lot of new people.
JM: What are the most influential operas written in the last 25 years?
GC: The one that got the most productions was “Dead Man Walking” by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally. Most recently, “Silent Night” by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell. Based on the 2005 film Joyeux Noel.
JM: Every musical genre has its superstars, but when you think of those you know in opera, they’re all dead or dying. We’ve all heard the names Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Who is your Billie Eilish or Josh Groban?
GC: That’s actually a very difficult question to answer now. You’re right, the golden age of the iconic opera singer is long gone. Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, Maria Callas — the list goes on. From the mid-1950s to at least her 1980s, there were many incredible singers with high-profile figures outside the world of opera. Part of that was due to television shows such as “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Tonight Show,” which regularly featured opera singers and appeared in the average Joe’s living room. Not now. But Jonas Kaufmann is a German opera tenor and a great actor. he is 53 years old Indeed, Rene Fleming has a persona that goes well beyond the world of ordinary opera. I would also like to mention Anna Netrebko, a Russian soprano. American mezzo-soprano player Joyce DiDonato will be attending our 40th anniversary gala in the spring. She’s certainly in that world of star power.
JM: Who are the young rising stars?
GC: Angel Blue is 38 years old. She is a Grammy-winning soprano singer for her 2021 Metropolitan opera, Porgy and Bess. There are some other great African American singers climbing the ranks with great personalities to match this great talent they possess. It’s encouraging.
JM: Let’s clear up some misconceptions. I was led to believe that opera was just ‘standing and singing’ with little emphasis on acting. That was not the case with “The Shining.” Are those days over?
GC: It’s very important for this company to have singers who can move, act, deliver character and tell stories. So to me, yes, the days of what you call “standing and singing” – we used to call it “parks and barks” – are over. Don’t just do it. To me, if you’re not talking great, why are you doing it?
Click here for Opera Glossary
JM: What would you say to someone who doesn’t like listening to music that isn’t sung in English?
GC: First, depending on what you choose, subtitles will appear at your seat, providing either English or Spanish translations. So it’s not much different from watching a foreign movie with subtitles. I actually like subtitles on TV, so I always turn them on. A lot of information that can be seen in advance, such as synopsis and character introduction, is also posted. We also offer a pre-his performance lecture that you can attend one hour before the show starts to learn a little more about what you’re about to experience.
JM: Should I dress up?
GC: We recently conducted a focus group with people who were “opera-obsessed” to choose the setting in which they would like to see their first opera — from a pub to a gravel warehouse to a picnic on the lawn. Until — they’re all gorgeous opera houses. It blew my mind because the industry has been saying the exact opposite for years. But right now, many people are working from home and never out of their pajamas all day. So when they go out for entertainment, they tell us they want to dress up. They want the whole opera experience. Here are my personal feelings: Please come comfortably.
JM: Settling the Bet: Is ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ an Opera?
GC: The only “opera” in “The Phantom of the Opera” is the Paris Opera House, where the story is set. No, it’s not opera. Opera singing is not required. Andrew Lloyd. Webber Broadway Musical.
JM: So here I fall to the sword of ignorance. The entire score is sung. It’s definitely a difficult piece of music. Sounds like an opera to me. what am i missing?
GC: I don’t hear anything operatic from the vocal or musical side. I really don’t
JM: So why should anyone interested in opera come to your 40th season opener, Rigoletto?
GC: One of the most timeless Verdi operas in the canon. It’s about intrigue, passion, and unsuccessful revenge.
JM: What advice do you have for enjoying your first opera?
GC: Make a full night of it. Come downtown early and have dinner at a small shop for a sandwich or a full 3-course he dinner. Ellie Caulkins There are plenty of options near her opera house. Or come early to people-watch in the lobby with a cocktail in hand. people love to do it. One of my favorite things about going to the movies with friends is to go outside after the movie and sit down and talk about the movie and share the experience.
JM: The last word?
GC: For all you get from Broadway musicals and ballets, opera is all on steroids to me.