It’s Opera Season: The Merry Widow, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto…

When I was a child, my Italian mother always sung songs from different operas. We would go to the library and she would get the tapes. While we were either studying or doing our chores she would have the music in the background.

As each song played with “extreme animation,” she would say, “Children, children, LISTEN, THIS is WHEN…” and she would describe the scene of the next song, so we would “understand” and “value” the beauty in the Italian lyrics and the music.

A few weeks ago, my mother called me. In her sweet Italian accent sounding very urgent told me, “YOU have to go to the Opera.” It was one of those motherly “it’s your duty,” remember “it’s how I raised you” to appreciate good music, you should “never forget” type of moments. I could hear this in her voice.

I was wondering where this was coming from. Turns out she had just received the Fall Opera listing! NOW, IT ALL MADE SENSE!

So, I am looking at what operas are playing…

A favorite of hers, that EVEN non opera fans would enjoy, is “The Merry Widow.” This is a lively operetta composed by Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár, it premiered in Vienna in 1905. It was so popular they translated it from German to English and it went International.

The story is of a wealthy widow from a small kingdom who goes off to Paris. The kingdom will collapse without her fortune, so the King sends a dashing man off to win her affections and bring her back to restore their kingdom to prosperity (short version).

Here are two lively YouTube videos from “The Merry Widow.”  The first song is called, “We’re the Ladies of the Chorus.” The widow had been a dancer, so you’ll see some fun dancing in this video. The second song is a group of men singing about how difficult it is to court women. BOTH songs are in English. It’s very nice!

Give it a try…

Mom, this is for YOU — sharing with the world!!


37 thoughts on “It’s Opera Season: The Merry Widow, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto…

    1. If you go for the first time, choose an “up lifting” opera. Some of them are very dramatic, like “Madame Butterfly.” But nowadays they while actors are on the stage even if they are singing in another language they have English subtitles. I hope you look at videos I shared, they are so fun. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful post! I have to give Hollywood (whom I’m not very happy with right now) credit for my affection for the music of “The Barber of Seville”. Some of the songs and instrumentals are used for the score of “Breaking Away”, the wonderful 1970’s movie about growing up in Indiana. I really must see the opera itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s so cool that your mother opened your eyes and ears to opera. I saw the Marriage of Figaro with my brother who’s an opera fanatic… maybe because my dad used to make us listen to it on long car rides. 🙂 Funny how those things stay with us. Fun post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi, Our son is a classical clarinetist so lots of operas and musicals for us! It is the reverse for us, our son got his parents into opera!! I am partial to the musicals and absolutely love The Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis.

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  4. My 5th-grade teacher Mrs. Landesman took the 5th and 6th grades to the Metropolitan Opera House each year. We saw La Traviata and La Boheme. She would explain to us the characters the setting and explained each scene. she made us anticipate and more importantly appreciate the music and performances and transformed it from old-fashioned noise to beautiful music.
    We all had to were slacks, ties and button-down shirts and the girls had to wear their fancy, Shabbos dresses. This was in 1989 and we all got so into it.
    You are lucky to be in Chicago you have Ricardo Muti, the expert on Verdi’s Music. I’d love to hear a performance by his orchestra. Maybe the March from Ieda…another great opera.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a great story. Your teacher sounds like my mother. If a teacher takes the time to help us KNOW what the opera singers are singing about, I think more people might like it. So wonderful, thanks for sharing. 🙂


      1. You were lucky to have such a special teacher. Now, you have to teach YOUR children, because they might not have a great teacher like that. Thanks for making me smile. Gee, I better make sure MY OWN children know the operas. 🙂


    1. THANKS for sharing that movie clip. I’ve been trying to find it on Netflix, nothing — I have to try the Library, if not there… I might have to buy it. WONDERFUL — sad to see those Italians boys being so bad!


  5. Great post! I didn’t get into classic opera until I was married, prior to that my parents always sang light opera at home, Gilbert & Sullivan, and their songs still make me laugh. Giuseppe Verdi’s powerful opera “Aida” is absolutely stunning and I once saw a live performance with real elephants on stage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, yes — “Aida,” that was a powerful opera and live elephants on stage, can you imagine – they must have had their own dressing room :). I’m so happy to see that others appreciate operas/operettas! Thank you for your message, my mother will LOVE being reminded about “Aida.”

      Liked by 1 person

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