Um... hi there...

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Um... hi there...

Post  David Cox on Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:50 am

Hi my name is Dave (obviously), and I am great lover of orchestral music, but opera is my passion.
I am 36 and I live just outside London and with my wife and son. I work for a well known UK broadcasting company where I am a manager of a team of Presentation Schedulers.

I was switched on to opera about 18 years ago whilst spending late nights doing computer graphics for my friend's computer game. I used to stay up until about three or four in the morning and for something different to listen too I picked up my mum's soundtracks for Amadeus which was a film that I really loved. During those late hours I became spellbound by "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" from Die Zauberflöte. I wanted more... I needed more, so naturally that led me to my first opera purchase - Solti's Die Zauberflöte. I devoured it like a person who hadn't eaten for 24 hours and from then the seed was was sown and the opera bug grew within me. Naturally I chomped my way through Mozart's opera's, sampled Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini and so on and so forth... however.... saying that I would not say I have a very vast repertoire, I am the kind of listen that finds the things he loves and plays them lots and lots for years and years, and actually my sampling was probably slowed down by my enjoyment of getting and listening to different interpretations of my favourite operas. And I also ought to mention that whilst opera is my passion, so is rock music.
Anyway, living so close to London, I don't go to the opera nearly as much as I should, and I actually did most of my attendances at The Royal Opera and ENO whilst I was student in the mid 90s, although I have been several times since. Another reason for my reduction of attendance since the 90s is that I spent 3 and about years living and working in South Korea. The last time I went to see a performance was earlier this year when I took my then 5 year old son to see Die Zauberflöte at ROH. However, I did go and see the live broadcast of Don Giovanni from ROH in the cinema back in September. That was a very satisfying experience. Whilst it is decidedly different from actually being there it is a separate special experience all on it's own watching on the big screen with Dolby 5.1 sound. I will definitely be attending some of the other screenings in future.

Anyway since it is nearly 1 am I better end this introduction before it becomes a novella.

I look forward to meeting other members here Cool
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Re: Um... hi there...

Post  operaspark on Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:51 pm

Hi Dave, Welcome to the forum Smile

That's such a great story about how you first got into opera...i believe its the amazing June Anderson singing in the film Amadeus.

I must admit that 'Die Zauberflote' isn't my favourite opera, i prefer 'Don Giovanni' or 'Cosi'.

I wouldn't worry about sticking to various composers or operatic styles...for me opera is all about different interpretations by different singers (otherwise we'd never see an opera live! Laughing ).

I think thats wonderful you took your 5 year old son to the ROH...i hope he enjoyed it. I saw the revival before that with the (sorry...awful) Anna Kristina Kapoola as the queen of the night. I saw the last production of 'Don Giovanni' at the ROH, it was a great cast. I saw cast A. By the way...you can view it free on the ROH website here http://www.roh.org.uk/video/



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Re: Um... hi there...

Post  David Cox on Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:01 am

Thanks for the welcome cheers

Yes, Die Zauberflöte had a big influence on me, and actually when I was at University we put ona production of Die Zauberflöte sung in English and I worked as assistant director to Benjamin Luxon's director. It was one of the best experiences of my life and a really great production. However, Die Zauberflöte is not my favourite opera. Don Giovanni is my favourite opera over all I would say, and it is the one I have the most recordings of. My first trip to the ROH was to see Don Giovanni in 1993. I saw this production live on the BBS and I found Sir Thomas Allen's Don captivating and I ordered tickets the next day and flew to London (I was living on the Isle of Man then) a week later to watch it. To this day Thomas Allen is probably my favourite male singer.

Yeah it was Anna Kristina Kapoola who I saw when I went to see Die Zauberflöte earlier in the year. I agree, she was not the best Queen of the Night I have seen or heard. That night was also a great experience for me because at the interval my son was starting to feel sleepy and was starting to be a little noisy, so I took him out at the start of Act II and decided to watch the rest on the video screen where he would not bother anyone. But he became upset when I told him we could not go back in and he began to cry. A kind member of the ROH staff came up to me and asked what was wrong and I explained. She made a phone call and took through a series corridors and down some stairs and my son and I got to watch the remainder of Act II from the director's box (which was vacant obviously) which was the best view I have ever had of an opera.

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.
Wink
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Re: Um... hi there...

Post  operaspark on Wed Nov 26, 2008 12:13 am

Laughing So funny you should mention 'Don Giovanni', i've just be listening to it while i've been working! It was the decca recording with Bryn, not a bad version - Renee Flemming is the best on the recording and Solti's conducting makes it all come alive.

What is your favourite recording of the opera? (as you are an expert on its discograph Very Happy )

Sir Thomas Allen is wonderful in everything! I can't wait to see him again this December in "Hansel und Gretel".

I was really annoyed about Anna Kristina Kapoola as the AMAZING Diana Damrau was the alternate Queen of the Night and all her performances had sold out first (clearly not a coincidence! Laughing). Kapoola just didn't do it for me. That's such a great experience for your son, i've always found the ROH staff really nice (even though some of the audience aren't! Laughing). Have fun watching 'Don Giovanni' again Wink Marina Poplavskaya is an incredible Donna Anna, its just a shame she was ill when it was filmed as she lacked the sparkle she had the year before when she played the role.

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Re: Um... hi there...

Post  David Cox on Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:40 am

operaspark wrote: Marina Poplavskaya is an incredible Donna Anna, its just a shame she was ill when it was filmed as she lacked the sparkle she had the year before when she played the role.

Yep agreed, I thought she was fantastic despite her not feeling 100%. I think her performance was captivating. Very Happy

As for what is my favourite recording of DOn Giovanni - that is a VERY difficult question to answer as I generally find each set has its strength and weaknesses. The one I listen to the most is the Marriner. Primarily I find its major attractiveness is Thomas Allen's performance as the Don. In my opinion he brings out the polemical nuances of the character - the charming lyrical seducer to the the unrepentant and defiant libertine right to the very end. For me Allen has been the finest purveyor of 'Fin ch'han dal vino' and the best at conveying the utter terror the Don feels once he realise his doom at the end. I think the Marriner set has an excellent male cast with Alaimo as a youthful sounding Leporello, the great Robert Lloyd as the Commendatore, and Francisco Araiza who is one of my favourite Mozart/Rossini tenors. Also the Marriner Mozart sets have a smaller orchestra and I find that suits Mozart better than a huge sounding Symphony orchestra like you get with the Karajan set. I also like Marriner's tempi.
The Giulini set is classic and I love that one too, but I also like the Davis set largely for the female cast (I'm not a big fan of Ingvar Wixell's Don), but Kiri Te Kanawa, Mirella Freni and Martina Arroyo are top class.
I have also been listening to the Rene Jacobs set a lot recently, and I think this is one of the best. It has a very nice sound and some interesting tempi. Johannes Weisser is a younger sounding Don than most others and that is something that helps set this one apart. I think the whole cast is solid, with no one standing out over another.
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Re: Um... hi there...

Post  operaspark on Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:12 pm

I seem to remember reading an article some time ago which said there is no such thing as the perfect recording of Don Giovanni, and your responce too seems to qualify that opinion! Laughing

Allen's interpretation seems interesting, i don't like Don's who seem to ignore the threat posed by the Commedatore at the end. I can imagine Allen weaves in a lot of vocal colour into his performance which makes it all the more interesting, he has always been a fine actor.


Have you heard the recent ROH release of the live 1962 recording? I'm currently of the opinion that Cesare Siepi is the finest Don Giovanni ever. It also features Mirella Freni as Zerlina (which if he like her is a plus!). Solti conducts. (http://www.mediciarts.co.uk/fe_display_products_items.php?product_id=258)

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Re: Um... hi there...

Post  David Cox on Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:16 pm

I heard another vintage Cesare Siepi recording some years ago, but I don't own it and only heard parts of it once. I would definitely be interested in listening to the recording you mentioned.
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Re: Um... hi there...

Post  operaspark on Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:31 pm

Although i don't think this is from that 1962 recording, you can hear Cesare Siepi singing Don Giovanni in this link below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opHnD3XZlvM 'Deh vieni alla finestra'

I've just created a topic in the 'opera' section of this forum on opera clips on youtube...you could post some of Thomas Allen there for example Smile

Opera clips on Youtube - Post your clips here!

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