Skip to main content

Opera: Is it Relevant?

Dialogue for June 25th
7-9 PM
Directions below

Greetings all-
Sorry this is up a bit later than I had hoped, but I have a fair excuse. We did finally get to meet our new baby girl, Jane, who arrived on Sunday June 1st. So there has been little sleep in our world. Ann, Jane and big brother Colin are all doing well.
So here are the materials for our discussion on THE RELEVANCE OF OPERA IN THE MODERN AGE. Don't get overwhelmed- I know it looks like a lot, but the articles are short and I hope the viewing/listening will be fun and at least a little compelling. I was originally planning on having a playlist right on the blog, but I decided that since opera is as much a visual medium as it is aural, that it would be better to use the joy of youtube.
Here is what I propose we all do to be prepared:
1. Read the articles. Like I said, they are all 1-2 pagers. Shouldn't be a major time drain.
2. Watch the playlist on Youtube. It is comprised of 14 excerpts, about 1'15'' minutes all in all. I've arranged them in roughly chronological order, so you may be able to make some observations about the development of the genre. I have also included a LISTENING GUIDE for you to download. You can find it embedded below. This contains translation of the texts where needed and a short description/comment on each excerpt. I've tried to refrain from making value judgements in my commentary because I want everyone to feel totally free to have their own opinions (not that this group should have any trouble with that). If you hate something, I want you to feel totally free to hate it. If you have the time and inclination, might I suggest that you watch the playlist through once without the guide, and then watch it again with the guide. I'd be interested in hearing how a little context changes your experience. If you are not so inclined, once through is fine, but once through is MANDATORY. I want everyone to have opinions about these works. Jot them down if you'd like, or make mental notes, but I want us to be able to talk in detail about what moved us, what we hated, what didn't make sense or was perplexing, etc. And of course, as you watch, be thinking about the issue of relevance. Is it relevant to you? If not, could it be made relevant? Feel free to make comments/ask questions on the blog as well.

OK- here's the stuff.

1. "Is Opera Still Relevant" by Philip Kennicott
2. "A Patience to Listen, Alive and Well" by Anthony Tommasini (critic for NY Times)
3. "The Future of Classical Music- episode 3: Bigger Problems" by Greg Sandow
4. "Bocelli Seeks Legitimacy (and Bucks) in Boheme" by Anthony Tommasini
5. "In Search of the Next Great American Opera" by Anne Midgette

To access the youtube playlist follow these instructions:
1. Go to
2. User name is slcdialogue. Password is password1234
3. Click on the link at the top that says SLCdialogue
4. Click on the "playlists" link
5. Enjoy. Apparently I sifted through about 360 youtube videos to bring you these 14.

Below you will find the listening guide. I know it's small and illegible. Just click on the maximize button on the upper right and it will go full screen.

Read this document on Scribd: Listening Guide june 08


  1. Thanks again, Brian for putting together the materials for this discussion, and to you and Ann for hosting. I especially enjoyed your singing.

    As someone without much interest in opera prior to the discussion, I would have to say that given a chance to see one of the ones you recommend for first-timers, I'd be much more likely now to give it a shot.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed it- I was hoping that it would be a discussion that everyone could get something out of, regardless of prior experience. It was cool to hear your perspectives.
    I checked out your blog and saw the comments on your post about the group. Sorry your friend hated the Barber of Seville. I thought about recommending it because it has a lot of familiar music, but the drama's not great, and it's only funny if it's staged really well. It can easily be a snooze fest. So I stand by my list.


Post a Comment