I've been debating for a while whether or not to recommend this little toy, but I think that really I should- so tonight I shall. Some out there no doubt know about it already, others perhaps don't. If you go to www.operadio.com and sign up (it's free) you can listen, via either the website or a downloadable player, to a 10 channel internet opera radio station. Sounds rather too wonderful to be true, doesn't it? Well, it is true. But there are some warnings I think need to be out there about Operadio.
It's a fabulous thing. When it's working, you can choose from Performance, Bel Canto, Oratorio, Archive, Romantic, Orchestral, Bach, Baroque, Interviews and Broadway. You can get the artist and CD information for every song you hear. Cecilia, Renée, Kiri, Maria, Angela, they're all here- everyone is, at some point.
But. There are some problems. For one, the website never seems to be updated, even though the playlists are.
When I was using the downloadable player (because until I starting using XP, the onsite one refused to work) there would be days, even weeks, when I couldn't connect. The advertisements (for Operadio) referred to video channels and something called 'linkshows' which I could never find any mention or sign of anywhere. The ads- but this has changed now I think- were significantly louder than the music: you'd turn the volume up for Edita Gruberova singing Norma then be deafened two minutes later by the woman promoting the station. Track information scrolled underneath, but sometimes referred to the wrong track, or disappeared altogether.
Things are much better, I've found, with the on-site player; but perhaps they've improved the other one as well now. Connection problems happen of course but they're a given with internet radio, and they're nowhere near as common. And sometimes the quality goes suddenly downhill, to an unlistenable extent.
So I've decided, in the end, that I do recommend Operadio. Perhaps not as 24 hour a day background music- the problems can be a little offputting. But as I'm typing this, the Bel Canto channel is playing Anna Moffo singing 'Ah tardai troppo'. So I really can't complain too much. Some singers (unfortunately not my Anna- this is the first time she's turned up)do seem to be a little over-represented. This isn't necessarily a bad thing- the crowd who turn up again and again are mostly the sorts of people you'd like to hear a lot of anyway. Only one more thing: the interview channel. I haven't been there in the last few weeks, but it does seem like they play the same 3 or 4 interviews endlessly. However, the site does mention new names in the station description now, but still it's possible that once you've heard all these, you'll want to stay away from the station for a while.
But if you get the chance to hear the Kyra Vayne interview there, stop and listen. The woman is unbelievable. Her last name should be spelt V-a-i-n. She was a Russian/English opera singer, reportedly fabulously talented, who made some recordings and then through various accidents of fate missed out on the sort of career she deserved. Then her recordings were discovered and re-released and she made up for her earlier bad luck in later life, recording again in her 80s. She's entertaining enough, and endearing in her own way- but she's also definitely one of her own biggest fans. No doubt she was very good; no doubt she didn't deserve to miss out on a career the way she did: but her own conviction of this fact can be a little hard to take. Her autobiography, A Voice Reborn, might be worth a look. I have it sitting somewhere. But one shouldn't be too unfair (or speak ill of the dead) so I'll make my disclaimer now: I've never once, not even for a moment, heard this woman sing. Perhaps I'll fall in love and forgive everything if I ever do.
CD du jour is an Elisabeth Schwarzkopf one released by Testament (I think). I don't know what it's called and I can't recall what's on it. I don't own it yet: but tomorrow when I finish my third and final exam for the semester, I'm walking straight into town and buying it as a reward.