The opera music of Puccini offers something to every type of audience.
As a newcomer to opera, Puccini’s music is accessible, beautiful and engaging. As a seasoned opera-lover, the music offers all of that along with the subtleties that are brought to the arias by the singers. I suggest that a good starting place to develop knowledge of opera would be with the operas by Puccini. Within the repertoire of every opera company you will find a number of the most famous Puccini operas and their staying power ensures that most any opera season will include at least one of them. To learn more about the history of Puccini, this is a nice summary:
If you are relatively new to Puccini, you may not realize just how many times you have already heard the music. The intense and engaging soprano voice that you heard in those tense moments in “Fatal Attraction” is the aria “Un Bel Di” from Madama Butterfly. The enchanting aria you hear through the romance of Moonstruck is “Quando Men Vo” from La Boheme. Perhaps one of the most famous arias by Puccini is “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot, which appeared in the “Witches of Eastwick” movie.
Want to hear for yourself? Here is a link to some sound clips. If you aren’t riveted by these arias, I’d be surprised
While these arias are certainly beautiful in their own right and well worth listening to separately, when they are experienced as part of the entire opera, they are transformed. The costumes, staging and in-person experience of the opera adds a dimension to the experience that is difficult to gain from just listening to an aria, no matter how beautiful it is.
I want to encourage anyone who hasn’t yet experienced an opera to attend a performance. One way to do that is to team up with an opera lover and attend together. Two seasons ago, I organized a small group of people who had never gone to the opera. We subscribed to two seats for the opera together for the season, which not only made the price more accessible for one performance, but was a really fun way to enjoy the performance together. It was a big success and everyone enjoyed it.
Case in point: this season at the Portland Opera the company will present Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in February, 2012.
The opera was originally presented in 1904 at La Scala in Milan in a two-act version. It was later revised by Puccini to the current three-act version. The story is set in 1890’s Japan and is based in part on the short story “Madame Butterfly” (1898) by John Luther Long.
Here is a link to more material about the opera and the composer. I especially liked the short introduction by the General Director, Christopher Mattaliano:
Hope to see you at the opera this season!!