I love opera, bluegrass, burger joints and fictional detectives. Mostly, but not always, in that order. Formerly of Dunedin, formerly of Sydney, now travelling the world with the tenor in my life (Stuart Skelton) and blogging as I go.
Facebook challenge: The first aria you fell in love with
Thanks to Barbara Bonney's CD of the same name, which I fell in love with even before my operatic obsession had really begun, it's "Fairest Isle", from Purcell's King Arthur. And lo and behold, here's a clip of her singing it in a production of the opera. A very weird production, by the looks of it, but hey, it's Barbara, I'm not complaining.
An Acquired Taste: The most attractive artist ever
Female or male? Never mind, I can answer both with one photo. Here are Franco Corelli and Anna Moffo. Both outrageously attractive, and as it happens, both favourite singers of mine.
My favourite opera is Peter Grimes, but I've already seen my dream cast in that. But I do dream of a Rosenkavalier with Soile Isokoski as the Marschallin, Joyce DiDonato as Octavian, Diana Damrau as Sophie, Kristinn Sigmundsson as Ochs and Thomas Allen as Faninal. That would not, I suspect, be terrible. Nor is it actually beyond the realm of possibility. Peter Gelb, are you listening?
In my case, the answer is pretty much all of them — I've always been a fan of going solo to the opera, whether by choice or compulsion, or because my steady date is, you know, up there singing. However, I do recall actively discouraging company when I saw a string of Butterflys with Cheryl Barker — I wanted to keep all that wonderful trauma to myself and not dilute it with socialising and stuff — so let's go with that.
Facebook challenge: Aria which perfectly exemplifies anger
An Acquired Taste: An opera you'd sell a kidney to see
Salome with Cheryl Barker in the title role. Luckily, I understand I won't need to pay nearly so dearly.
Facebook challenge: Famous operatic chorus
An Acquired Taste: Best opera to see with a friend
Surely that depends pretty heavily on the friend? But I guess most people would struggle to have a terrible time at Tosca. (And it's certainly the best opera to take my best friend to.)
Facebook challenge: An evil character you'd like to play
(Speaking of Tosca.)
An Acquired Taste: Best opera to see with a lover
Peter Grimes. No, really. As a test. I mean, if you don't fundamentally agree about Grimes (either positively or negatively) then maybe you need to reconsider the whole relationship. Or is that just me?
In all honesty, I think the answer is probably Verdi if it's anyone, though all my real favourite composers are from everywhere but Italy. For variety's sake, however, and because I love how he got it so right, so early, I'm going with Monteverdi.
Marie and Tonio. Nobody dies, there are no massive misunderstandings or accusations, and it all ends happily. I've already posted a clip of Natalie, so here's the excellent Mariella Devia (and Paul Austin Kelly) instead.
I'm going to cheat a little here and go with a singer-specific answer. In the hands of its writer, Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" is a song I like very much indeed. Translated into Italian, dressed up with a syrupy orchestral backing, and sung by Katherine Jenkins, it definitely falls into the category of HATE.
Here's my beloved Dolly singing it. Let's try and pretend KJ never touched it.
Having already picked you-know-who as my favourite tenor, I figure he's hors concours for this one, so I'm opting for my another of my favourite Australians, Peter Coleman-Wright. Here he is as the Count in Opera Australia's recent Figaro. I'd rather have a clip of just him, but this will have to do.
Hate is far too strong a word. But Zerlina irritates me, and this aria (particularly when annoyingly staged) doesn't help. Until, that is, I hear it sung like this, and wonder how I ever dared to say a word against it.
My esteem (or otherwise) for bel canto has more to do with who happens to be singing it at me than the relative merits of its composers — frankly I could probably live without it, if only it didn't give people like Joyce DiDonato and Beverly Sills a chance to be insanely wonderful. Anyway, for argument's sake, I'll say Rossini. If only so I can post this:
I racked my brains for a while on this, then realised I was missing the blindingly obvious. Ellen's Embroidery Aria from Peter Grimes. Clip from Opera Australia's production, naturally; still the best thing I've ever seen in any theatre, ever.
Best, rather than favourite? Not that I'm sure it makes a difference. Mirella's definitely one of my candidates, but since I've just posted her above, I'll pick my operatic mother, without whom my love of opera might never have happened. Lucia Popp.
I can never pick just one favourite anything. There are plenty of contenders for this one, but in the end I couldn't quite go past the Te Deum from Tosca. Last year, when I thought I'd seen enough performances of Opera Australia's Tosca, it was the chance to hear John Wegner sing this one more time which convinced me to go a fifth time. Here's George London. Audio only; there's video too but I can't embed it.
Yes, this question is in the other challenge too, and I answered it yesterday. All part of my cunning plan. I have several favourites. Yesterday I picked Richard Strauss. Today, Mozart. Obvious, maybe, but inevitably true. Especially in face of this sort of thing: