Friday, October 16, 2015

A Friend Asks...

...what are the five greatest operas of the last 50 years? That is, since 1965.

I have a few ideas, but I also know that, owing to living and attending the opera in the US, there's a lot of good stuff I haven't seen yet. Please post your candidates - more than 5 candidates would be great! - in the comments!


mountmccabe said...

Adams - Nixon in China
Heggie - Moby-Dick
Glass - Satyagraha
Saariaho - L'Amour du Loin
Benjamin - Written on Skin
Messiaen - Saint-François d’Assise

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you! Nice selection.

atrave said...

Benjamin - Written on Skin (already mentioned, but it's been haunting me since I heard it on the radio)
Ligeti - Le Grande Macabre
Adams - Doctor Atomic
Knussen - Where the Wild Things Are & Higglety Pigglety Pop
Ruders - The Handmaid's Tale
Ades - The Tempest
Schnittke - Historia von D. Johann Fausten (the first 2 acts are a bit tough, but the end, known separately as "Faust Cantata", is a killer)

And some other recent ones that I found very interesting
van der Aa - Sunken Gardens
Glanert - Caligula
Francesconi - Quartet

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you!!

Unknown said...

Well, "since 1965" leaves us with ten more years of Britten, so Death in Venice is on there...

My other four choices:

Nixon in China (Adams)
Einstein on the beach (Glass)
Le grand macabre (Ligeti)
The knot garden (Tippett)


Zwölftöner said...

Agree with some of the above & won't repeat. A few favorites that would be in the canon if it were up to me...

Harrison Birtwistle/Stephen Pruslin, Punch and Judy (1968)
Claude Vivier, Kopernikus (1980)
Olga Neuwirth/Elfriede Jelinek, Bählamms Fest (1999)
Brian Ferneyhough/Charles Bernstein, Shadowtime (2004)
Unsuk Chin/David Henry Hwang, Alice in Wonderland (2007)
Philip Glass/Peter Handke/Rainer Mennicken, Spuren der Verirrten (2013)
Lucia Ronchetti/Ermanno Cavazzoni, Esame di mezzanotte (2015)

Lisa Hirsch said...

Excellent, excellent, thank you both.

John Marcher said...

My list includes some already mentioned:
Il Postino (yes, I'm serious)
Certitude and Joy
Einstein on the Beach
Nixon in China
Dead Man Walking

Lisa Hirsch said...

Most of those need no introduction, but I will mention that Certitude and Joy is by Erling Wold.

Alex Ross said...

I try to avoid lists of this kind, but there's no doubt that St. François and Einstein would be on my list if I were to make it.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you! And indeed - it is necessary a silly enterprise.

Henry Holland said...

Henze: Die Junge Lord
Henze: The Bassarids (without the intermezzo)
Britten: Death in Venice
Birtwistle: The Second Mrs. Kong
Reimann: Lear
Birtwistle: The Mask of Orpheus
Messaien: Saint-François d’Assise
Saariaho: L'amour de Loin
Ligeti: Le Grande Macabre (original version only, I don't like the revised version)
Chin: Alice in Wonderland

Eric Pease said...


perhaps the only two post '65 operas I've seen though :-)

Michael said...

I've heard so few compared to what I'd like to hear. But favorites of what I've heard in person, thus heavily biased to USA composers, include:

Adams: Nixon in China
Heggie: Dead Man Walking
Adès: The Tempest
Machover: VALIS
Bernstein: Mass (best production I've heard was in an opera house)

Chordspinner said...

As always, it is operas I've heard live I like/remember best.

Not mentioned before and seen twice (and would go again and agin):
Birtwistle - Minotaur

Already mentioned and high on my list:
Saariaho - L'Amour du Loin
Benjamin - Written on Skin
Britten - Death in Venice
Reimann - Lear

I also enjoyed Ades The Tempest and Heggie Dead Man Walking, from recordings only.

One I've seen that would NOT be on my list was Turnage's Anna Nicole.

Has anyone heard Weinberg's The Passenger. I missed it when it was done at ENO but wouldn't miss it now, having heard several other pieces by Weinberg.

Finally, once I've heard Haas's Morgen und Abend later in November, I'll know if I'd put it on the list...

doug said...

Einstein, Francois, Death in Venice, L'Amour, and then either Macabre or Nixon. This is hard - and fun.

Daniel Wolf said...

Lucier: I am sitting in a room
Ashley: Atalanta
Oliveros: Crow
Kondo: Hagoromo
Cage: Europeras 1 & 2
Feldman: Neither

(I included six, in case you don't accept my argument that I am sitting in a room is an opera.)

OTOH said...

Besides some already mentioned, here are a couple I've seen that I'd go see again:

Penderecki: The Devils of Loudun (saw the American premiere in Santa Fe; would like to see the revised version)

Berio: Opera (also at Santa Fe - what a night that was!!! An enraged audience member near me stood on her seat during intermission and starting screaming stuff in German. I never did figure out whether she was an intentional part of the opera or not - it was that kind of experience.)

Known from recordings -

Ashley: Improvement

Ginastera: Bomarzo

I only know Per Norgard's orchestral works, but based on them, I can make an educated guess that his operas must be wonderful music, at the very least.