Monday, 1 August 2011

August Opera Challenge Day One: Best Overture

I am in love with so many. The tiny, beautiful strings at the beginning of Verdi's La Traviata that lead into some of the most romantic, recognisable music ever composed, the dramatic evocation of the hunted Siegmund that begins Wagner's Die Walküre and the dark, eerie warnings that float over the prelude to Mozart's Don Giovanni were all contenders, but ultimately it's another of Mozart's overtures that gets my vote- Le Nozze di Figaro.

Composed in 1789 as the opener for his comic opera about a mad day in the life of two love-bird servants in the house of the randy Count Almaviva, it is surely one of the most humorous and spirited pieces of music ever written. By the three minute mark, I'm usually struggling to contain myself and if you're looking for an overture that will really get you excited about the opera to come, then this is definitely the one. I should really use it as my early morning wake up call, as the last time it was played on Classic FM's 'Brighter Breakfast' it put a spring in my step for the rest of the day. Here's a clip of James Levine conducting it for the momentous 1998 Met Production (Terfel, Bartoli, Fleming, DeNiese) that has oddly never materialised on dvd. Anyway, enjoy.....

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