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Seattle Opera Podcast

Apr 22, 2020

In this series of podcasts, Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean gives listeners a taste of nine different types of traditional opera. Opera buffa, the beloved old Italian tradition of opera comedy, is what you get by adding music to the even older Italian tradition of improvised (artisanal) comedy, commedia dell’arte. The fools and buffoons of commedia—the sassy wenches, befuddled old professors, suicidal young lovers, dirty old misers, hungry Harlequins, arrogant soldiers, zany servants, and all the rest—found new ways of entertaining us once they began singing gloriously. And with the opera orchestra functioning as a laugh track and adding jokes of its own, opera buffa continues to disarm us and charm us while putting a big grin on our faces. The Barber of Seville and The Elixir of Love are great examples of the genre.

Musical examples on the podcast drawn from Seattle Opera recordings of La Cenerentola, 2013, conducted by Giacomo Sagripanti; The Barber of Seville, 2011, conducted by Dean Williamson and starring José Carbo and Lawrence Brownlee; The Marriage of Figaro, 2009, conducted by Dean Williamson and starring Nicolas Cavallier and Barry Johnson; Così fan tutte, 2006, conducted by Andreas Mitisek; the 1986 Hungaroton recording of La serva padrona, starring Katalin Farkas and Jozsef Gregor, with Capella Savaria conducted by Pal Nemeth; Falstaff, conducted by Karajan and starring Luigi Alva, soloists, and the Philharmonia Orchestra (Columbia 1956); Gianni Schicchi, conducted by Antonio Pappano (EMI 1998); and L’elisir d’amore, Ileana Cotrubas, Geraint Evans, and the orchestra of Covent Garden conducted by John Pritchard (Columbia 1977)

Stay tuned for another podcast introducing another kind of opera next week!