Opera For Everyone
Ep. 99 Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria by Monteverdi

Ep. 99 Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria by Monteverdi

June 26, 2022

There is no secular story nearly so important to the Western tradition as the Odyssey, a timeless tale of heroism, achievement, and loss.  The subject matter of this epic poem has found its way into many works of art, and likely the earliest opera adaptation was Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, first performed in 1639 in the city of Venice.  Monteverdi’s opera tells one of the oldest remembered human stories through the new form of art of which he was one of the pioneers, the opera.  His reimaginings of Greek myth often fused Christian and pagan elements into a beautiful and complex melange, and this is no exception.  At once philosophical and lyrical, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria comes to us from a very different time from our own, but continues to thrill through its inventiveness and beauty.

Hosted by Pat and Grant

Ep. 98 La Donna del Lago by Rossini

Ep. 98 La Donna del Lago by Rossini

April 23, 2022

We all know that feeling when we want to marry one rebel leader, but our father wants us to marry the chief rebel leader, but then one day a wandering king disguised as a huntsman starts chatting us up on the moors. With this timeless and relatable set-up (based on a poem by Sir Walter Scott that is credited with starting the Scottish Romantic movement) Rossini crafts an opera that blends romance and political intrigue.  Featuring a druid chorus, a major character unceremoniously killed offstage, and an unexpectedly happy ending, La Donna del Lago (“The Lady of the Lake”) is a wonderful example not only of Rossini's beautiful music, but also of Sir Walter Scott's seldom-read masterpiece.

Hosted by Pat Wright and Kathleen van de Wille

For more of Kathleen's musings on the power and possibilities of story, read and subscribe to Constructive Criticism on Substack.  (Discussed at 1:44:01 on this podcast.)

Ep. 97 OFE Meets Maestro Joseph Rescigno, ft Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss

Ep. 97 OFE Meets Maestro Joseph Rescigno, ft Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss

March 5, 2022

Meet Maestro Joseph Rescigno–gentleman, author, and opera conductor extraordinaire.  The Maestro joins OFE for this wide-ranging discussion of the how, what, and why of conducting opera.  Drawing on material from his book, Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music, and a lifetime of conducting opera around the world, Maestro Rescigno brings a unique perspective to the theory and practice of operatic composition and performance.  In the second half, we explore Richard Strauss’ unusual and fascinating Ariadne auf Naxos, which hybridizes myth and psychodrama, opera and commedia dell'arte

Hosted by Pat

Ep. 96 The Cunning Little Vixen by Leoš Janáček

Ep. 96 The Cunning Little Vixen by Leoš Janáček

January 24, 2022

Leos Janacek’s opera about a clever little fox living in the worlds of both animals and humans has many of the charming and amusing elements expected of traditional children’s stories.  However, don’t let this Cunning Little Vixen fool you.  Her story, and the story of the forester who pursues her, are richly layered with issues that may glide over the heads of young opera-goers while leaving the adults in the room pondering as they smile at the sly references. 
 

Hosted by Pat and Rosie Brooks

Ep. 95 Béatrice et Bénédict by Berlioz

Ep. 95 Béatrice et Bénédict by Berlioz

December 12, 2021

Beatrice and Benedick often steal the show in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing with their sharp-tongued banter, and a romance that is as unlikely as it is inevitable.  Composer Hector Berlioz was captivated by these characters, and turned their story into an operatic romantic comedy in his final completed opera, Béatrice et Bénédict.  As the music soars and sparkles, join us for this “merry war!”

Hosted by Pat, and Kathleen Van De Wille

Ep. 94 Opera For Everyone Meets United Arts Studies

Ep. 94 Opera For Everyone Meets United Arts Studies

November 7, 2021

What does Salvador Dali have in common with opera?  Listen to this episode to find out!

This episode features special guests soprano Elizaveta Ulakhovich and baritone Perry Sook talking about their work and lives as an operatic couple.  Their newest project is a YouTube series that connects their love of opera and their exploration of the visual arts.  Join us for a unique episode featuring romance, creativity, and adventure.

Hosted by Pat and Grant

Ep. 93 Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss

Ep. 93 Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss

October 23, 2021

All things must come to an end, but few approach endings with such grace as Marschallin Marie-Therese, the iconic character of Der Rosenkavalier.  At once epic and intimate in scope, Strauss’s masterwork resists characterization, at various points telling the story of the end of a romance, the end of adolescence, and the end of an empire.  Published on the eve of the First World War, this opera masterfully intertwines traditional and modern subjects to produce an epic story of nobility, violence, and the achievement of wisdom. Working together, Strauss and playwright-librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal created one of the finest stories ever told.

Hosted by Pat and Grant

Ep. 92 Cox and Box & Pirates of Penzance by Sullivan and Gilbert

Ep. 92 Cox and Box & Pirates of Penzance by Sullivan and Gilbert

August 29, 2021

Riding high on the tide of their smash success, H.M.S. Pinafore, W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan enjoyed celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic.  While engaged in defending the integrity of their work against inferior pirated versions, they hastily completed and premiered a show about a group of inferior pirates.  Pirates of Penzance is almost certainly Gilbert and Sullivan’s most enduringly popular collaboration, giving us memorable tunes and characters such as the steadfast Mabel, the swashbuckling Pirate King, and the Very Model of a Modern Major General.  By turns hilarious, incisive, and thrilling, this masterful operetta is a joy to experience.

Furthermore, in keeping with the spirit of a Gilbert and Sullivan presentation, we have a one-act “opener,” Cox and Box.  This show, though comic and tuneful, pre-dates the famous partnership, and pairs Sullivan’s compositions with a libretto by F.C. Burnand.  It’s a charming farce, with a most unusual lullabye!

Hosted by Pat and Rosie

Ep. 91 Guillaume Tell by Rossini [EXTENDED VERSION]

Ep. 91 Guillaume Tell by Rossini [EXTENDED VERSION]

July 17, 2021

This extended version of our William Tell show includes everything from the regular length show, plus more history, more music, more explication, and more fun!

Imperial soldiers, determined rebels, a martyred elder, a plucky youth, a noble princess, a cruel oppressor… it’s not Star Wars; it’s Rossini’s final opera, William Tell!  First performed in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Era and inspired by much earlier legends of a medieval Swiss folk hero, this opera is a masterwork of everything we love about opera.  It tells a story that is at once personal, specific in time and place, and yet universal at its core.  Join host Pat, who, with the help of co-hosts Kathleen and Grant, takes a deep dive into this Bel Canto masterpiece which is both utterly Romantic, and yet completely clear-eyed about the struggle of freedom versus oppression and oppression, shaped by the all-important power of love.

Ep. 91 Guillaume Tell by Rossini

Ep. 91 Guillaume Tell by Rossini

July 17, 2021

Imperial soldiers, determined rebels, a martyred elder, a plucky youth, a noble princess, a cruel oppressor… it’s not Star Wars; it’s Rossini’s final opera, William Tell!  First performed in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Era and inspired by much earlier legends of a medieval Swiss folk hero, this opera is a masterwork of everything we love about opera.  It tells a story that is at once personal, specific in time and place, and yet universal at its core.  Join host Pat, who, with the help of co-hosts Kathleen and Grant, takes a deep dive into this Bel Canto masterpiece which is both utterly Romantic, and yet completely clear-eyed about the struggle of freedom versus oppression and oppression, shaped by the all-important power of love.

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