Is it worth it to see operas on DVD?

I’m going to come out sounding like such an uncultured little person here, but I have never seen an opera. Ever.

But I do want to. The library has DVD copies of Il Trovadore and a few other things. I’ve wanted to see Il Trovadore for a long time. I almost grabbed it but I thought maybe I’d better ask here…are DVD operas worth it? It seems like a decent way to introduce myself to the genre, but I’m pretty ignorant about the whole thing.

Will I even enjoy it? I don’t understand a word of Italian, which I think most of them are in???

Any advice will be appreciated.

I saw Wagner’s Ring on television. Seeing my favorite operas in the small screen was great; I’m sure seeing them live would be fantastic.

One of the things I love about this place is that I can see a question that had never even begun to occur to me before, and realize that I want to know the answer too. :slight_smile:

So I’m sorry I have nothing to add, except that my only exposure to opera was on old vinyl, and I enjoyed that, at least.

It’s a bit like seeing things on TV or on a movie instead of seeing things at a live theatre. There’s nothing equal to the live experience, but by cutting and editing they can give you a more perfect version of the opera on DVD, including close-ups that you can’t get in live performances without sitting in the front row. Plus, you can see the very best singers and opera companies, that cost a fortune to see in real life.

All it’s going to cost you is a few hours of your time, right? Check it out.

You’ll most likely have the DVD option of English subtitles.

Since you’re new to opera, try to see The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro in Italian) by Mozart. It’s a good “starter” opera, with lots of great, accessible tunes, and an amusing plot.

I just didn’t want to burn myself on the genre. You know, hate it on DVD and end up hating it IRL.

If you are destined to like live opera, you won’t hate it on DVD. Instead, it’s a very cheap way of getting to like it, by learning about it without paying the high prices that you pay for live opera. (Especially since for most of us that includes transportation to another city to see the very best opera companies.)

Actually, I’ve been wondering the same thing, especially since the gentleman in my life hates opera, while I rather like it.

All right. I’ll get Il Trovadore and start with that. I’ll report back and tell you guys how it is. But please, if more people have more input, let me know! Especially recommendations. :slight_smile:

Also, slightly off-topic I signed up to watch Pirates of Penzance next weekend at the library. Forgot they did cool stuff like that.
In other, less high-brow news, watching Cars tonight!

For me, the only question is: How is your set-up?

If your DVD player is connected to a decent stereo, by all means.

If you’ve got a $45 player connected via RF modulator to a 19" mono television, don’t bother.

I’ve got Julia Migenes’ Carmen, which is pretty spectacular and has some cinematic touches that make it even more enjoyable (for me) than a straight stage production – but I wouldn’t bother with it if it wasn’t going to fill my eyes and rumble my guts.

I only have a 23 inch TV (I think) but it’s a good TV. And we have a receiver and a great stereo system hooked up to it. So we have great sound.

That’s the main thing, 'natch. Jump in!

The Essential Music Library: Opera and Choral Music.

Gee, I don’t know; if you watch opera and like it, you run the risk of getting the gay. Maybe that’s just for guys, though, but I’m not sure I’d take that chance…

Seriously, Anaamika, what do you stand to lose except a few hours? And you stand to gain a new passion. The advantage to watching them on DVD rather than listening to Live at the Met is that the visual interest will carry you through some of the longer, less lyrical passages when your mind might otherwise wander.

You may want to start with Italian or French operas at first; German and Russian operas (to my mind) take a little more concentration and determination. But definitely take that first step - it will be the first part of a wonderfully slippery slope.

Really? And here I thought it was caused by biking. :smiley:
Of course I’ll try it! I’m looking forward to it, actually.

Opera on DVD can be a lot of fun. Of course some are better productions than others, but those that make it to DVD are usually prettty good.

On the whole, a great way to learn opera, especially if you live far from a major oopera house.

I agree that this is a powerful argument for hunting down filmed or taped performances.

However, Gesamtkunstwerk be damned, I find it’s often easier to enjoy an opera that is new to me by simply listening to a recording, and following along with the book. It can be slightly annoying to have certain odd visual choices imprinted on one’s brain when it’s a question of a perfectly good piece of music. I suppose it comes down to what one is after in the experience, and how much patience one can conjure up for the occasionally “interesting” performance, whether it’s video or audio.

If it’s your first opera experience, and if you don’t speak the language (or even if it isn’t and you do), read up on the plot before watching. There are probably liner notes with the dvd, unless someone’s stolen them. Even though I’ve been to tons of opera performances over the decades, I still don’t like to go in cold, without any idea of what’s going on. Especially with subtitles, you might find yourself concentrating on them so much that you miss the music.

All of the above. Plus, be prepared to experiment. Il Trovatore may not do it for you. You might find that Wagner, or Gluck, or Britten, or Rossini, or whoever, might be your thing. And in the meantime, have fun exploring :slight_smile: