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Seattle Opera Podcast

Mar 25, 2020

In this series of podcasts, Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean gives listeners a taste of nine different types of traditional opera. Grand opera developed in the mid-19th century and centered on performances at the Opéra in Paris. The roots of the genre stretch back to the opulent court of France’s Sun King, Louis XIV, and continue to influence how opera is presented to this day. Verdi’s Aida (1871) is probably the world’s favorite grand opera (although it’s not necessarily a textbook example of the genre, since it wasn’t written for the Opéra, is sung in Italian, and is briefer and more straightforward than most grand operas). Another beloved masterpiece is Wagner’s Tannhäuser (1845), a work retro-fitted in 1861 for performance at the Opéra.

Musical examples on the podcast drawn from recordings of Verdi’s Don Carlos (first entrance of Philip II), Vienna Staatsoper performance conducted by Bertrand De Billy, (Premiere Opera Ltd. 2004); “Le divertissement royal – Danse de Neptune” from Lully: l’Orchestre du Roi Soleil, Le Concert des Nations led by Jordi Savall (Alia Vox Spain 1999); Don Carlos (conclusion), soloists, chorus, and orchestra of La Scala conducted by Claudio Abbado (Deutsche Gramophon, 1984); Seattle Opera’s 2018 Aida, starring Alexandra LoBianco, David Pomeroy, Elena Gabouri, chorus and orchestra of Seattle Opera conducted by John Fiore; and Tannhäuser (Venusberg Ballet), Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim (Teldec 2002).