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.
Facebook challenge: A good operatic character you'd like to play
Papageno seems to have a lot of fun.
An Acquired Taste: Take your favourite opera and assemble your dream cast
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?
Facebook challenge: Best classical opera composer
It would be fairly obtuse to not say Mozart, wouldn't it? So, Mozart.
Now here's a clip of Patricia Petibon singing Haydn.
An Acquired Taste: Your first favourite opera
An easy one, at last. Die Fledermaus.
Facebook challenge: An aria you would never be able to sing
Pick one. I don't (can't) sing. But even if I could, clearly I could never sing this, and frankly I'm amazed anybody can.
An Acquired Taste: Least favourite misconception about opera
I think this image pretty much sums it up:
Either that or Katherine Jenkins's repeated claim that it's impossible for a mezzo soprano to sing opera before the age of 30.
Meme fatigue is starting to set in, but having come this far, I'd feel silly if I didn't see it through. So here we go.
Facebook challenge: Favourite singer with a huge voice
Let's have some Birgit.
An Acquired Taste: Best opera to see alone
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.
Catching up on the opera challenge. I figured illustrating everything with video would be overkill.
Facebook challenge: Favourite opera of all time
An Acquired Taste: Most powerful aria
Facebook challenge: Best duet
An Acquired Taste: The opera you listen to most
(Only true this year.)
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?
Facebook challenge: Best conductor ever
I don't have a particularly strong opinion on this, but if I say Carlos Kleiber, then I can post this:
An Acquired Taste: Most visually entertaining opera
I think this really depends on the production. In which case, I pick Rameau's Les indes galantes, on account of the insane Les Arts Florissants production.
Facebook challenge: Favourite Italian composer
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.
An Acquired Taste: Happiest romance
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.
Facebook challenge: A song or aria you used to like, but now hate
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.
An Acquired Taste: Most tragic romance
Tatyana and Onegin. Talk about tragically bad timing. So bad, in fact, that they possibly don't count as a romance. But I'm choosing them anyway.
(Yeah, I know it's in the wrong language.)
Facebook challenge: Most beautiful female operatic voice
An Acquired Taste: Favourite tragic role
I know it's a comedy, but few characters make me sadder than Countess Almaviva.
Facebook challenge: Your favourite male operatic singer
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.
An Acquired Taste: Best opera all-round.
Well, clearly this is impossible to answer in absolute terms. That said, it's Peter Grimes.
Facebook challenge: An extremely recognisable aria
Is this an excuse to post Joyce singing "Ombra mai fu"? Why yes, I believe it is.
An Acquired Taste: Best comedy
The correct answer is probably either Figaro or Falstaff, but for the sake of posting some Natalie nuttiness, I'm going with La fille du régiment.
Facebook challenge: A composer you find overrated
This probably upset somebody, but Sir Arthur Sullivan. I know plenty of people who swear by it, but I've just never understood the musical appeal of Gilbert & Sullivan.
An Acquired Taste: Best bass-baritone/bass
Based on recent events, Sir John Tomlinson. (See 4:25.)
Facebook challenge: An aria that you hate
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.
An Acquired Taste: Best baritone
I don't think I can really go wrong with Hermann Prey, can I?
Facebook challenge: Favourite French composer
At last, a clear-cut one. Poulenc. No question. (With Rameau as runner-up. And thus did I bypass the entire nineteenth century.)
An Acquired Taste: Best tenor
Perhaps the most biased answer ever, but no less true for that. Yes, as far as I'm concerned, the best tenor is my tenor. (Though I think he'd tell you it was James King.)
(Third Peter Grimes clip in six days, I know. But it's the best opera ever, or close to it.)
Facebook challenge: Favourite bel canto composer
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:
An Acquired Taste: Best alto/contralto
It could only be Ewa. HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE?
Facebook challenge: A sad aria
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.
An Acquired Taste: Best mezzo-soprano
So many possibilities. I nearly said Joyce. I could also say Marilyn. Or countless others. But I'm going to say Lorraine. I mean, was she even of this earth?
Facebook challenge: Favourite female aria
It's certainly one of them.
An Acquired Taste: Best soprano
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.
Facebook challenge: Favourite male aria
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.
An Acquired Taste challenge: Favourite composer
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:
From the An Acquired Taste challenge: Best Overture
Not technically an overture, but close enough to squeeze in here, I think: "Dawn", the first of the Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes.
From the Facebook challenge: Your favourite composer
I have several favourites. Since I've already posted some Britten above, I'll pick another from the group: Richard Strauss. Some Arabella:
The Facebook challenge list:
day 01 - your favorite composer
day 02 - your favorite male aria
day 03 - your favorite female aria
day 04 - select one aria that you consider being very sad
day 05 - you favorite bel canto composer
day 06 - your favorite french composer
day 07 - aria that you hate
day 08 - composer you find overrated
day 09 - select aria or piece that you find one of the most recognizable ever
day 10 - best russian composer
day 11 - your favorite male operatic singer
day 12 - your favorite female operatic singer
day 13 - aria that you think is sexy
day 14 - most beautiful female operatic singer voice(quality,technique)
day 15 - most beautiful male operatic singer voice(quality,technique)
day 16 - a song or aria that you used to like but now you hate
day 17 - favorite italian composer
day 18 - best conductor ever
day 19 - your favorite opera of all time
day 20 - best duet
day 21 - perfect aria to describe angriness
day 22 - most famous choral part in your opinion in opera
day 23 - evil character you would like to play in some opera
day 24 - favorite operatic singer male/female with "huge" voice
day 25 - aria that you would never be able to sing
day 26 - best classical opera composer
day 27 - best lied composer
day 28 - good character you would like to play in some opera
day 29 - first aria you fell in love with
day 30 - not very famous opera that you find beautiful
The An Acquired Taste challenge list:
Day 1: Best Overture
Day 2: Favorite Composer
Day 3: Best Soprano
Day 4: Best Mezzo-Soprano
Day 5: Best Alto/Contralto
Day 6: Best Tenor
Day 7: Best Baritone
Day 8: Best Bass/Bass-baritone
Day 9: Best Comedy
Day 10: Best Tragedy
Day 11: Best Opera all around
Day 12: Best Libretto all around
Day 13: Favorite Comedic Role
Day 14: Favorite Tragic Role
Day 15: Favorite Couple
Day 16: Most Tragic Romance
Day 17: Happiest Romance
Day 18: Most Visually Entertaining Opera
Day 19: Most Powerful Aria
Day 20: The Opera You Listen to Most
Day 21: And Opera You’d sell a Kidney to See
Day 22: Best Opera to See With a Friend
Day 23: Best Opera to See With a Lover
Day 24: Best Opera to See Alone
Day 25: Least Favorite Misconception about Opera
Day 26: Your First Favorite Opera
Day 27: If You Could Play Any One Role, What Would it be?
Day 28: Take Your Favorite Opera, and Make Your Dream Cast
Day 29: Most Attractive Artist Ever
Day 30: Best Finale