My Intro to Opera–Bizet’s “Carmen”

In the fall of 2015, I saw my first professional production of Bizet’s opera, Carmen, by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. It was wonderful! I went all-out, buying a video, soundtrack album, and libretto. Sometimes you just have to listen at home as well. I was completely captivated by the costumes, set, the singing, and the lighting. The ending, though expected, left me feeling as though I had been punched in the gut.

It was my very first opera anywhere. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pre-opera presentation. Had I known about the discussion afterward, I would have stayed for that as well. Before the performance, I went over the background material in my opera reference book and listened to the info on the Kennedy Center website

I have known the music since I was a child. Sesame Street long ago featured an animation of one of the famous arias. I’ve encountered it since through music appreciation classes and other recordings. It is, arguably, one of the most performed and accessible operas. The Met is launching a new production of it in January 2017.

Classical WETA 90.9 often plays Sarasate’s  “Carmen Fantasy.” I always enjoy listing to that, Here is Sarah Chang’s interpretation:

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/97/bc/39/97bc39f3d613d578b3e555f5e939fe6b.jpg

 

Image result for carmen free clipart opera

Enrique Granados–“12 Spanish Dances”

 

 

I have spent some time this morning learning about the Catalan composer Enrique Granados and some of his compositions, and his life, and his family. He is from the same region of Spain as Pablo Casals, and was just as famous in his lifetime. One morning, I heard a portion of the “12 Spanish Dances” and was really enjoying them. Afterward, the name of the composer stuck with me.

Here are the “12 Spanish Dances” for piano.  Guitar renditions follow for some, as well as a couple of his other pieces. Enjoy!

 

spanish dancer: Flamenco. Dancing girl and guitarist. Vector illustration Illustration

 

The Butterfly, by The Bothy Band

Awhile ago, I researched the song, “The Maid of Coolmore” for a separate essay and came upon this instrumental by The Bothy Band–“The Butterfly.”  I heard the tune before, but it’s been a long time. Anyway, I think it’s pretty, so here it is:

 

 

Monarch butterflies by franzi

 

Wonderful Butterfly-Girl by j4p4n

Blue Butterfly by gustavorezende

 

Retro Floral Butterfly by GDJ

Haydn Trumpet Concerto, London Symphony, and Symphony #5

I only know the barest facts about Franz Joseph Haydn: the Esterhazy family, that his students–of which Beethoven was one–called him “Papa,” and so on. I recently learned that Beethoven and Haydn didn’t get along. (But did Beethoven get along with anybody? I sure hope so. I imagine Haydn as having a sense of humor. Perhaps he will be the next musical biography on my list.

As usual, I have Classical WETA 90.9 to thank for playing Haydn fairly often. I have the “Surprise” Symphony and enjoy it. Here are my other favorites so far. First up is his trumpet concerto, performed by Wynton Marsalis:

Next up is the London Symphony. Awesome!

Last is Haydn’s Symphony #5:

 

As I’m finishing this post, I’m listening to Haydn Concertos: Il Pomo Doro by Riccardo Minasi. Very beautiful so far!