110 Comments
Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

My first opera was Bizet’s Carmen....in 1967- at school in a course I voluntarily took early in the morning before the school day started. It was called Music Appreciation....a wonderful teacher who volunteered his time to teach us at 8:00am before the regular school day started. It was the Callas Carmen. How fortunate was I! It started me on a lifelong love of classical music and opera.

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Not too sure if this counts as an opera - Porgy and Bess - Gershwin? Watched the film and loved the powerful singing and music

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

A school performance of The Barber of Seville. I can't say I enjoyed it. Happily it didn't put me off for good! I still don't care for Rossini though.

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Just realised there was an earlier one than Porgy and Bess - Pirates of Penzance, sang that in class when I was about 8 years old - Gilbert and Sullivan - does that one count too?? Come friends who plough the sea....

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

My first full opera was a free performance of "Tosca" in an outdoor amphitheater. I was more excited about the family outing, the beautiful setting and the snacks at intermission, but the event somehow made a lasting impression on my preteen brain.

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My grandfather took me in the early 1940's to the Met in NYC. I believe it was Aida, followed by an aunt taking me to the ballet there ( not exactly Opera, but for a 10 year old kid, about the same experience. ) and my father took me to Porgy and Bess. Not a bad start for first generation North American.

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Mozart's Don Giovanni. I was about 8 years old and I was transfixed. Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. I can still hear it 56 years later!

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

The Untouchables Pagliacci's 'Vesti la Gubbia' when Malone (Sean Connery) is killed.

Incredible to hear it in the cinema

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

My first attending an opera was a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, Montreal, Place des arts. My friend was in scenery and got me in!

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

My first memory is my father playing the great Mario Lanza singing The Great Caruso. His favourite aria was from Puccini’s third act of Tosca E Lucevan El Stelle. I just loved the clarinet in this piece. It was so moving and passionate. So the first opera I saw live was of course Tosca, which I’ve seen many times and it remains my favourite along with this aria. I think it bring back good memories of my dad and his love of all times of music from jazz, classical, Reggie, pop, rock and even rap. But for both of us, no one sang this aria better than Mario. What a voice, what a wonderful aria. Both fostered my love of this musical genre.

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It's difficult for me to say what was my definitively first opera memory. Since I was a child, my father would play opera records every Saturday morning and often included a mix of Carmen, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Manon Lescaut and Turandot. . .maybe Cavalaria Rusticana and Il Pagliaci. The first time I was conscious of the music of a specific opera was in the mid-seventies when I went to see the original The Bad News Bears starring noted opera devotee Walter Matthau. My father told me all of the music in the film was from the opera Carmen. I loved the film and the music was memorabele and enjoyable. About five years later, a sophmore or junior in high school, I attended my first opera. It was a production of Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera. Although I did not appreciate it at the time, the choreography was by Alvin Ailey, and the scenography was by the great Czech designer Josef Svoboda. Their work would be very much on my radar as I studied theatre craft and theatre history in college. I own several books about Svoboda, written by my college/grad school mentor Jarka Burian. Carmen remains a favorite of mine over 40 years later. When I was first dating my wife, she told me while she loved theatre and ballet, she hated opera. I naively asked "even Carmen?" and my wife said "yuck, that's the one I hate the most," as she stuck out her tongue in a most adorable fashion. I may have fallen in love with her at that moment. I also had a good laugh because if one had to pick the opera one hated the most, I can't imagine how Carmen would be chosen. Clearly that was the only opera she had ever seen. She's walked out of several operas over the years, but I am happy to say she has recently endured a quality production of Carmen at the Met, and not only does she not hate it the "most" (she reserves that distinction for Einstein on the Beach), she actually likes it a lot.

Bonus remark: About half a year after seeing Carmen, I attended my second opera, also at the Met. It was The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagony, directed by John Dexter and starring Teresa Stratas. It was magnificent. My father, strictly a verisimo kind of guy, did not share my enthusiasm. I was already a Brecht and Weill enthusiast and the production was excellent, but what made the night so special, even magical for me, was that Tony Randall, the actor who was the not-so-much-alter-ego of opera-loving Felix Unger, was sitting right behind me. So I can farily claim that I went to the opera with Felix Unger. If only I had run into Jack Klugman at Saratoga Race Track (btw I attended a NYCity Opera touring production of Carmen in Saratoga once upon a time), life would have been perfect.

-Martin Blanco

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Cosi at Glynbourne... hooked for life. Thought names were strange Never met Fordiligi!

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

My first exposure to opera was Giordano's Andrea Chenier at the Met in January 1971. It was also my first trip to Lincoln Center. I was taking a class during intersession at Rider College (now University) on Society and the Performing Arts being taught by Dr. Richard Leblond, who later became Director of the San Francisco Ballet. During that January I also saw the Alvin Ailey Dance Company for the first time and an off-broadway show, 'The Last Sweet Days of Isaac.' (I still have the record. LOL) That magical month changed my life.

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

My parents were serious lovers of opera & classical music. While I can't say for sure exactly which opera is my earliest memory, I can remember them playing records of La Boheme, Turandot (my mom's favorite), La Traviata, Carmen, Marriage of Figaro and others in the early 1950's and all throughout my childhood. Both of my parents knew almost every word, and both sand well enough to make their singing along not be at all unpleasant. They were lovers of many kinds of music, so we also learned all the Gilbert & Sullivan comedic musicals, and all the wonderful musicals like West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and my favorite, Candide. (When Man Of La Mancha came out, it became tied with Candide). Oh - not played in my household ... the heavy Wagnerian operas.

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

I was 15 years old and watching the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympic Games on TV in what must have been July or August 1992. I saw Freddy Mercury, whom I thought (and still do) had a pretty great voice, be absolutely consumed by Montserrat Caballe... I was hypnotised by the power and purity of her voice. It was an unexpected revelation in style of music to me 😊

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

I went on a walking tour of theaters in Detroit in about 2006. I was given a small disc of arias after touring the Music Hall. The disc had Nessun Dorma on it, sung by Luciano Pavarotti, and I fell in love with the aria. When I heard that Turandot was playing at the Detroit Opera House, I bought one box seat ticket for myself and attended just to hear the aria live. I fell in love with opera that afternoon.

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

I grew up with Sunday opera on the radio, records at home. I saw Carmen and La Traviata as a youth with my parents, performed by the Met’s touring company at Northrop Auditorium at the University of MN. But MY first opera was La Boheme, at Northrop in the Spring of ‘83. The ticket was $25, my grocery money for the week, and took place the night before my last, most important final in my senior year. Of course I went! By then, I knew the opera, I had my first love and loss, but his was my first live performance of La Boheme. I learned the truth of my mother’s favorite quote: “We love opera because it is almost life sized”! I wept openly, as I always do, during most of the 4th act. When Mirella Freni died last year, I wept again. I realized that I had been falling in love with and losing Mirella’s Mimi for 40 years!

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

The first time I heard opera was in the womb! My parents are both professional musicians. My father is a tenor and a choral conductor (now retired), my mother a pianist, organist and music teacher and my grandfather was also a tenor so opera comes "honestly" to me. I was surrounded by all classical music, including lots of opera, from birth. That being said, I definitely have some early memories of opera in specific. I remember thinking when I was really young that all singers stood with their chests out and their head up like Joan Sutherland. I also remember we had an album of Victoria de Los Ángeles and she sort of resembles my mom. I would show all my friends when they came over the album and tell them that it was my mom. I also knew ALOT about tenors from Gedda to Björling to Domingo to, of course the God in our house...Pavoratti and would get in discussions with my father about each of them. Last but not least, I have always loved Marilyn Horne.

All of that being said, the first full opera I saw was Hansel and Gretel when I was about 5 and it wasn't even my parents to took my brother and me, it was some family friends. To this day I still remember how magical it was. I would pretend to be Gretel at home after seeing it. Little did I know that I would actually play HANSEL many times in my career.

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Feb 23, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

I was in Bulgaria at a resort called Sunny Beach. It is a collection of hotels around the sea. Few of the locals spoke English. I had noticed an outdoor theatre. One day there was someone selling tickets. I bought 2 tickets for about 30p each (Soviet era) and went with my partner to the performance which could have been absolutely anything. Turned out to be an opera called Carmen. I was hooked. Have spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe since. Opera and ballet are still cheap and appeal to all classes

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Feb 24, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Mario Lanza, who was from my old neighborhood in South Philly, sang Pagliacci in a movie, "The Great Caruso." I cried my eyes out as a kid listening to him sing that aria.

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Feb 24, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

I wanted to add that the neighborhood I grew up in, was made of of Italian immigrants and their older children. In nice weather, the windows were all thrown open and Italian Opera was heard throughout South Philly. So I was young, remembering around age 5+. Great pride that Mario Lanza was from there as well as non-opera rock and roll singers of the late 1950's.

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Feb 24, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Field trips for elementary school students were still taken in Los Angeles in 1960. I remember that I was the third alternate student to be allowed to go to a daytime performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute at Shrine Auditorium near USC. Six students that were scheduled to go that day were absent, so I got to go. I admit to not being too impressed with the opera that day; I was more impressed with the interior of the Shrine, and its’ chandelier; as an excuse, I was eight years old. It took me a few more years to appreciate opera.

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Feb 24, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Carmen. Fabulous music & a good starter for anyone.

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Feb 24, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

My dad loves opera and musicals so he used to play them on his reel-to-reel tapes when he was fixing the car in the garage (1970s). The earliest I remember recognising was Carmen. Or Camelot or Annie Get Your Gun! (Do they count??) But then it was the music in the movie Amadeus.

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Feb 24, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Mine would have been grade 7 in 1972 went to the opera Carmen, with my whole music class. We also got to go to watch the movie Jesus Christ Superstar,  starring Ted Neely based on the rock opera album, of Andrew Lloyd Webber, 1973. I owned both the original album by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the movie version that was produced. My favorite was the original. I used to sing along to it at home. Loved it.

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1965 w/AIDA at Symphony Hall in Newark as a child. Especially memorable when the tenor stopped signing Celeste Aida in mid-aria on stage.

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Feb 26, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

La mamma morta.

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Dec 26, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Vissi d'arte sung by Maria Calles. I grew up listening to my parents albums of her and Renata Tebaldi

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May 25, 2022·edited May 25, 2022Liked by Opera Daily

The movie Philadelphia- La momma morta. Been in love ever since! I bought a Maria Callas cd and that was it!

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May 30, 2022Liked by Opera Daily

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California was my first opera. Bizet ‘s Carmen but I don’t remember who was singing. I was 12 years old. Since then I have been to the Met in New York and

have enjoyed the productions there by

Zeferelli and others.

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Jun 17, 2022·edited Jun 17, 2022Liked by Opera Daily

First aria that caught my attention was the Queen of the Night's aria in Mozart's "The Magic Flute". It was from Ingmar Bergman's filmed version, shown at university many, many moons ago from a galaxy far away... but it would be several decades later before I did my deep dive into opera. That would be c/o the Met's Live in HD broadcast (their first!) in early 2007 of "I Puritani" with Anna Netrebko singing while flat on her back and head hanging over the edge of the stage! A snow storm had been forecast for that evening, and that Live HD premiere movie theater located nearly an hour's drive away was empty save for two or three others equally insane as me. I became totally engrossed in the onstage proceedings and was transported far away from the wintry affair outside, in magical opera land for nearly 3 hours. A glorious "real" introduction to opera!

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Sep 3, 2022Liked by Opera Daily

Madam Butterfly! Puccini ! Butterfly was played by Bidu Sayou, hope I. spelled it right ! I was about 12 . She had very Long, black hair and when she knelt to take her bow, her hair hung way down into the orchestra pit!! A memory I’ll never forget!!

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Sep 4, 2022Liked by Opera Daily

La Boheme Puccini

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022Liked by Opera Daily

Well, it was in early 70s when I was 8 or 9 ( I got a brand new tape recorder then) There were so called Philharmonic Mornings on Polish TV. There I heard Intermezzo of Cavalleria Rusticana and immediately fell in love with as I said "Pure Perfection" However, I didn't catch the title and my parents Verdi's and Strauss's people didn't know it either. So I started hunting that masterpiece to record it but without success. At last Raging Bull with Robert de Niro discovered my beloved opera Cavalleria Rusticana to me🥰♥️ Since then I have been to many Cavallerias, mainly in Italy or Sicily and this summer I had a pleasure to meet Pietro Mascagni's great granddaughter Francesca, get her book Le donne di Pietro Mascagni with her autograph and watch Cavalleria on Mascagni Terrazza at Mascagni Festival in Livorno. So it can be said that I've been obsessed with Cavalleria almost 50 years, the only opera I listen to every single day ♥️♥️♥️

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Nov 17, 2022Liked by Opera Daily

Arias from The Merry Widow and Rusalka. My mother sang them around the house with the old record on the record player. I'm almost 70 now, went into opera because of singing with my mother. I miss her every day still.

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Dec 20, 2022Liked by Opera Daily

I can’t remember the first time I heard opera, because my parents, and especially my father, listened to opera. My dad loved Puccini, and Turandot and Boheme were in heavy rotation. I CAN, and always WILL, remember the first opera I heard live: Turandot with Birgit Nilsson/San Francisco Opera at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. I don’t recall who sang Calaf, but when La Nilsson embraced him at the end of Act III, it was like watching the meeting of a bug and a Venus flytrap.

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First opera memory: My parents took me to see Sophia Loren (visuals) and Renata Tebaldi (vocals) in the 1953 film, "Aida." My mom liked SL's hair, make-up, and outfits. My dad liked SL. I liked the music.

First opera attended: "Der Freischütz." I was in high school and had to go alone. Yup, couldn't even get a family member to go with me. (I think they were still upset about attending SL's "Aida.")

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The Ed Sullivan show on Sunday nights often featured opera singers and it was there that I first heard an aria. That would be in the 1950's and I was quite young. I was fascinated by it from that time on. My first opera was a production of La Boheme by Puccini in the 1970's in Toledo Ohio. One of my favorite films is by a German dire

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Feb 26, 2023Liked by Opera Daily

I'm from Philadelphia. There's a film called Philadelphia with Tom Hanks. There's a scene where he's listening to la mama morta by callas. I was astonished by how beautiful her voice was. Than I saw photos and I was stunned at her amazing transformation. I followed her and opera ever since.

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Apr 25, 2023·edited Apr 25, 2023Liked by Opera Daily

Caruso on RCA LP 60 years of Music with Caruso when I was 7 or 8; unforgettable. My first Opera at Symphony Hall about 1965 w/Rigoletto or Aida under Alfredo Sili[igni. Not very good and Jerome Hines etc.

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Jul 28, 2023Liked by Opera Daily

2017, Singapore Lyric Opera, Verdi's Aida. My school choir brought me there, and we weren't too impressed since I could remember some singers had visible issues. The next time was just last year at the Hong Kong Opera and they did a pretty good Trovatore with a Mainland Chinese and European cast.

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Oct 24, 2023Liked by Opera Daily

Marriage of Figaro by Motzart. 5th grade. Began my love of opera at age 11. My elementary school hosted the local Opera and philharmonic orchestra to come on Saturdays to our auditorium to give kids exposure to the fine arts. I cried, age 11, because the music so so beautiful. The other kids laughed, but I didn't care

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