Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 6, 2010
Every once in awhile I like to put together a post like this one. Most of the time they don’t get a lot of comments because, well, I figure that folks may look at something like this as taking a lot of time, and I know that the particular style of music or movie doesn’t fit everyone.
So why do I do them? Two reasons. One, because I have lots of interests, and I like to share my thoughts on things every once in awhile. And two, because I like to consider myself kind of a renaissance guy, and I know a lot of people wouldn’t think that I would be the type of guy to like some of the things I do. I don’t know why not, though; after all, I did do a post showing my 19 favorite classical pieces, my top 10 disco favorites, and my 13 favorite singers, and on the first and third some of what’s below are repeated.
Why opera? First, I was a music and history major in college, and I grew to enjoy opera a lot while in college, probably because of music history class, where we had to listen to all sorts of songs and be able to give all sorts of information about what we were listening to. Second, as I listened to a lot of this stuff, I realized just how many of these songs were in the Warner Brothers cartoons I grew up watching and loving. Third, my dad loved classical music and loved to sing, and every once in awhile he’d be watching opera on TV and I’d sit and listen as well. Whenever I’m on the road, the day I come home always starts with an opera in the early morning, and when it’s done then it’s time for something upbeat; but the opera always have to come first.
Did I always know what was going on? Not even close! Sometimes I did, and when I started going to operas, they have the lyrics posted above the stage so you can kind of follow along. You see in English what they’re saying in other languages. I’ll tell you the truth, most of the time I love the choruses more than the solo performances. Probably because I was in a choir, and my dad loved choir music a lot. But I’m not only posting choruses here because the individual songs are just so beautiful.
Anyway, what you see below are my top 10 favorites, in reverse order. I’m not giving the kind of detail I often do with these things, but I will tell a few stories. For instance, the reason Carmen is at the top of my list is because it’s the first opera I ever saw live. Porgy & Bess is here because I knew a lot of songs from it before I ever knew it was an opera, and almost all black people at the same time; imagine my surprise at that one. Lohengrin is on here because I had always planned on having a chorus at my wedding singing the Wedding March, which comes from it, but of course that didn’t happen. Hansel & Gretel is the first opera I ever remember seeing on TV, and I watched it with my dad. And most of the rest… well, I love love stories in operas, even though they don’t usually end well, and most of these are, to a degree, love stories. The Mikado; it just makes me laugh.
Who says I have no culture? Anyway, that’s that; enjoy!
9. Otello (Kiri Te Kanawa)
8. Madame Butterfly (movie)
7. Romeo & Juliet
6. HMS Pinafore
5. Hansel & Gretel (turn volume up)
3. Porgy and Bess (On this one, if you remember the TV show The Jeffersons, the lead singer here was the second Lionel, before they went back to the original for the last year)
2. The Mikado