In order to help you better appreciate our operas, our Community Engagement program presents this series of introductory podcasts hosted by Nicolas Reveles. These brief ‘conversations’ can be enjoyed by opera fans as well as those who are new to the art form. Informal yet informative, this is a great way to prepare to come see the operas during our season.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Orchestral Interludes in Bizet's Carmen

One of the things that attracts us all to Bizet's Carmen is his use of the orchestra, especially in those wonderful entr'actes the he places prior to each act.  Let's explore and have a listen to them as we look forward to our 2011 International Season!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Faust: The Scene You'll Probably Never See

In olden days (!), Gounod's opera Faust was performed in its entirety.  That makes for a very long evening.  Having recently caught a Met broadcast on Sirius radio from 1972 with Domingo, Zylis-Gara and Tozzi (as a marvelous Mephistopheles!), I can attest that it took forever, however gorgeous the performance was!  The scene that is normally dropped for both time and dramatic reasons is the Walpurgis Night Scene.  Let's take a listen to some of the music from that scene.


Monday, December 6, 2010

The Waltz in Der Rosenkavalier

Did you ever wonder exactly why Richard Strauss uses the waltz throughout his comic opera Der Rosenkavalier?  Considering that the story takes place in mid-18th century Vienna (a time when the waltz had not quite developed yet) it seems a bit anachronistic.  And yet, Strauss makes it work so well!  Listen to a theory proposed by the great conductor Georg Solti and a few choice examples from the score!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Spectacular Choruses in Turandot

One doesn't automatically think of Giacomo Puccini as a "choral" composer, but there are some glorious choral moments in nearly all of his operas as well as a lovely Mass, the Messa di Gloria.  The chorus writing in Turandot, however, is masterful and the choristers are busy throughout the entire opera.  Let's explore some of this wonderful music.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Carmen: Let's Dance!

You're probably aware that there are lots of "danceable" moments in Bizet's opera Carmen.  Let's explore some of those moments, one of which might surprise you!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Valentin's Aria from Faust

One of the most memorable moments in Gounod's opera Faust is the baritone aria, "Avant de quitter ces lieux".  It is probably the most popular aria for lyric baritones to audition with, as well as a key moment in the opera.  By the way, it ain't easy!  Let's listen to three baritones from three different generations of opera artists apply their mastery to this wonderful piece.


Monday, October 11, 2010

The Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier

Strauss parodies the "Italianate" style, especially Puccini, in Act One of Der Rosenkavalier with the appearance of the Italian Singer.  Let's spend a bit of time with this character who'll be sung in our production this coming season by Stephen Costello, our Faust for 2011.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Why Liu Steals the Show from Turandot!

It's the classic problem with Puccini's Turandot: how do you move the audience's sympathies from Liu to the title character after falling in love with the beautiful young slave girl?  It was Puccini's problem, and we're not sure he entirely solved it.  Let's explore and listen!


Monday, September 27, 2010

The Opera Comique version of Carmen

Carmen premiered at the Opera Comique in Paris in March, 1875.  The Comique had certain performing traditions that Bizet and his team had to follow, one of them being that dialogue between characters was normally spoken, not sung.  In fact it wasn't until after Bizet's death in June of that same year that the fully-sung version of the opera was first presented to the public.  Let's briefly explore the difference in these two versions.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Meet Baron Ochs

If you don't know who Baron Ochs is, take a listen.  He's the biggest boor in opera and he's the comic foil to the romance and the waltz atmosphere of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier.  Here's a short introduction.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Original Cast Recordings of Turandot

You mean, there were original cast recordings of Puccini's last opera?  Yes, there were.  There are also recordings of some of the singers that Puccini wanted to cast in the roles of Turandot and Calaf back in 1926 but who ended up being unavailable.  Let's take a listen to some real audio history!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Great Don Jose's in Audio Recordings

Just as we did last week with Faust, here are some stellar examples of great tenors who made Don Jose in Carmen a signature role.  What could be more challenging for a singing actor than to trace the deterioration of a character both musically and dramatically in an exciting evening of opera?  Listen in!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Great Fausts on Record

There is no dearth of great tenors who have recorded portions or all of the role of Faust in Gounod's opera.  Let's listen to a few of them: Caruso, Gigli, Bjoerling, Corelli and Gedda.  What fun!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Leitmotifs in Der Rosenkavalier

Something common to many operas composed after the death of Richard Wagner is the use of the leitmotif, a musical idea, tune or melodic "germ" used by a composer to unify a complicated score.   Richard Strauss was one of the earliest inheritors of the leitmotif system and he uses it with abandon in Der Rosenkavalier.  Let's explore some of the leitmotifs used in that opera.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chinese Tunes in Puccini's Turandot

Thanks to an Italian diplomat who'd spent some time in China and gave a Chinese music box to the composer, Puccini was able to discover and then use actual folk tunes within the fabric of his score for the opera Turandot.  This podcast will introduce you to those tunes as they are utilized by Puccini in order to help you get to know more about the opera.  Have fun!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Conchita Supervia: The Greatest Carmen?

Some of you might be familiar with the name, some of you may not.  But there was a time when, especially in Europe, mezzo-soprano Conchita Supervia was considered the greatest Carmen of all time.  Luckily for us, she left some brilliant recordings behind, dating from the 1930s.  Take a listen and see if you agree that this singer might just have left a standard of performance that has yet to be surpassed!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Faust: Great Marguerites on Record

We're lucky in that many of the great sopranos of the past who've sung the role of Marguerite in Gounod's Faust recorded excerpts or were involved in complete commercial recordings of the work.  Let's survey them and bask for awhile in the beauty of these voices!


Monday, July 19, 2010

The Gender-Bending Role of Octavian

In Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier we have a wonderful example of a hosenrolle or 'trouser role', a female singer portraying a male character in an opera.  Strauss and other composers in opera history had a lot of fun with these roles, and it's time to explore how Octavian fits into the tradition.


Monday, July 12, 2010

The Role of Calaf in Puccini's Turandot

One of the most exciting male roles in all of Puccini's operas is the role of Calaf, the Tartar Prince who comes to China and falls in love with Turandot.  Although Miguel Fleta, who created the role in 1926, did not record anything from the role the tenor whom the composer had in mind all along did.  Take a listen to some of the tenors who made the role famous, find out more about Calaf and hear some beautiful music!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Carmen: Why It's All About Don Jose!

Sure, she's the 'star', and yes, she gets all the great, memorable tunes.  But did you every think that maybe, just possibly, the opera is really about Don Jose?  Musically, at least, I think he's more interesting!  Let's take a listen!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Faust: The Devil, You Say!

In looking forward to bass-baritone Greer Grimsley's performance in our upcoming production of Gounod's FAUST, I thought it would be fun to look more closely at the role of Mephistopheles and the historic basses who sang the role.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Margarethe Siems: the First Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier

Imagine my surprise when I discovered, not terribly long ago, that there were recordings of members of the very first production of Der Rosenkavalier from Dresden, 1911!  Here's an introduction to the very first soprano to sing the marvelous role of the Marschallin, Margarethe Siems.  Enjoy!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Famous Turandots on Record

Luckily for us, Puccini's opera Turandot premiered in 1926, well after the invention of sound recording.  So even though we don't have a recording of excerpts from the opera by the two principals (soprano Rosa Raisa and Miguel Fleta), we do have recordings of some of the sopranos who made history in the role.  Let's survey a handful of those sopranos and see if we can get a good sound picture of what Puccini might have expected for the role.


Monday, April 12, 2010

San Diego Opera's 2011 Season Podcast

Announcing San Diego Opera's 2011 International Season!  Listen to Dr. Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach introduce Puccini's Turandot, Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, Gounod's Faust and Bizet's Carmen, operas that will be brilliantly produced and performed at the Civic Theatre.  Join Dr. Reveles for an operatic adventure in listening!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Great Tenors in La Traviata

Tenors from Caruso to Domingo have sung and recorded music from Verdi's opera La traviata.  Here's a survey of some of those famous singers and their recordings for your enjoyment, a benefit of which will be to get more familiar with Alfredo's music before you come see our production!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Giorgio Germont: You've Gotta Love Alfredo's Father!

Poor Alfredo's father: he often gets short shrift in discussions of Verdi's masterpiece La Traviata, and he deserves better!  Here's a survey of his role in the opera as well as some wonderful recorded excerpts to help you get to know him better.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Great Choices, Great Opera: Nabucco

Great art is about great choices, and Verdi made great choices in writing operas like Nabucco! I'd like to reflect for a few minutes on just what kinds of choices he made in this exciting opera as we come to the end of this brilliant production!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nabucco's Prayers

We all know by now that Verdi's Nabucco is loosely based on the Bible, and the deep background of the story is the Babylonian Captivity, the Exile.  Upon looking more closely at the libretto of the opera, one can find all of the different forms of prayer that one can actually find in the Bible, prayer-forms that are actually recognized by Biblical scholars.  Did Temistocle Solera, the librettist for Verdi's opera, know the Bible that well?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  But listen to the examples you'll find in today's podcast and make up your own mind. 


Monday, January 25, 2010

Great Sopranos Sing Mimi!

In the same spirit as a podcast we posted a few months back about great Rodolfos in the history of recorded sound, here is a brief survey of some of the great sopranos who've sung the role of Mimi, especially created for this week as we open Puccini's La Boheme! Enjoy the sounds of Farrar, Albanese, de los Angeles, Tebaldi and Freni as we look forward to Saturday night's opening.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Puccini's La boheme: Another Look at "Another Look"!

Since we are going into production on our first opera of the season, let's take another look at a podcast that first ran on June 10, 2009, all about the first act of Puccini's La boheme and how the composer uses musical ideas to tell a great story.  This is a great brush-up in preparation for your trip to the theatre, beginning on January 30!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stars of our 2010 Season: Meet Piotr Beczala

Let's kick off our 2010 San Diego Opera Podcast Season by meeting one of the stars of our first production, Puccini's La Boheme: the young Polish tenor Piotr Beczala!  This is first class singing from the lyric tenor that we've all been waiting for!