Arias and emotion: get to know opera with Andrew Roger


23 August 2017

Every year we present a live season of the world's best opera, direct from The Metropolitan Opera in New York and this year we're excited to bring you a mix of premier productions and new stagings. Running from October 2017 - April 2018, these ten special events will be accompanied by our Pre-Opera Talk programme. We're delighted to have local opera enthusiast, Andrew Roger, on hand to deliver engaging and insightful introductions before each show. These talks are a great way for both avid fans and absolute beginners to get a deeper understanding of the performances in the season and learn more about this fascinating and unique medium, plus there's always a healthy supply of tea, coffee and biscuits!

Are you an opera novice or just interested in finding out more? We chatted to Andrew to get an insight into this exciting artform and find out what you can expect from this new Met season.

What makes opera such a unique medium?

Opera is a unique medium because it is literally the works - singing, acting, lighting, costume, production, orchestral playing, technical support etc, every aspect of the performing arts. Well-performed opera takes you to a different world. It is a feast for the eyes and ears, an escape into another world, sometimes romantic, sometimes tragic, at other times humorous. Opera encompasses every emotion.

"Well-performed opera takes you to a different world."

Can you tell us a bit about what we can look forward to this new season of operas from the Met?

As always with the Met season, we can look forward to variety, with productions featuring a mixture of traditional and modern - and with 2 new productions by Sir David McVicar. The season will offer 2 Mozart, 2 Puccini, an early Verdi opera, a modern opera already performed at Salzburg and Covent Garden, 3 bel canto operas and an opera in French based on the Cinderella story.
We can expect to see the world's top opera stars at the Met. In particular, watch out for the Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva who will be appearing in La Boheme, Tosca and Luisa Miller. She will be paired with Michael Fabiano in La Boheme, with Vittorio Grigolo and Bryn Terfel in Tosca and with Piotr Beczala and Placido Domingo in Luisa Miller. Also the ever-popular Joyce DiDonato will appear in Norma (singing Adalgisa) and in Cendrillon. So prepare yourself for a season of love, hate, jealousy, murder, treachery, mistaken identity - and even comedy!

Can you tell us more about your pre-opera talks?

Each talk lasts for 30-45 minutes and includes background information, a synopsis of the story illustrated with brief musical examples and a look at some of the reviews of the first night. The atmosphere is very informal - with tea, coffee and biscuits - and the people who attend are all very friendly and enthusiastic.

Do you have a favourite aria?

The answer must be NO. I have so many favourites so I shall limit myself to one of my favourite arias from the new season. Although tenors are always popular, my favourite aria is not Puccini's' Nessun dorma'. It is Puccini's 'E lucevan le stelle' from Tosca. This is the moment when Cavaradossi bids farewell to his life and his love Tosca. He must turn this ravishing music into a heart-wrenching moment. It is all raw emotion, a spine-tingling moment. 

"I am most looking forward to Bellini's is the Everest of Italian bel canto operas."

Which opera in the new season are you most looking forward to and why?

I am most looking forward to Bellini's Norma because it is the Everest of Italian bel canto operas. Most sopranos aspire to sing the role but few have done it justice. Anyone tackling the role will be compared to Maria Callas who sang the role 89 times in her short career. The aria 'Casta diva' is the perfect example of Bellini's serene melodies which unfurl languidly and seem to go on for ever - and the soprano must also be able to produce coloratura fireworks and sing in a declamatory style when required - no mean feat. This is indeed the role par excellence for the singing actress!

The 2017-18 season from the Met is set to be the company's best yet and tickets are already selling fast. Individual operas can be booked using the links below or call Box Office 01382 909 900 to book a full or five opera season package. 

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