5 Worst Operatic Fathers

Happy Father’s Day, everyone! I thought it would be nice to celebrate it by making a list of the worst fathers in opera. I have decided to do a list of the worst one because it’s so much easier and anyway the best fathers in opera are normally the ones who just do nothing and let their children mess up their own lives by themselves.

5. Giorgio Germont (from La traviata by Verdi) 

This guy isn’t such an awful dad because, admittedly, the only reason he makes Violetta break his son’s heart (not to mention her own) in order to let his daughter get married. So it all sounds theoretically okay until Violetta gives up the will to live and dies and he ends up looking like the bad guy (although the bad guy should have been the Baron or just society generally).

Renee Fleming as Violetta with Thomas Hampson as Germont

4. Rigoletto (from Rigoletto by Verdi)

Rigoletto’s problem is that he is simply the most overprotective father of all time. Yes, it is sweet that he loves his daughter and wants her to have a happy, innocent childhood but when it gets to the point where she is desperate to get outside but has no idea what outside is like, it’s fairly obvious that something’s going to go wrong.

Placido Domingo as Rigoletto

3.Marquis of Calatrava (from La forza del destino by Verdi)

Yes, he died but maybe if he hadn’t been so controlling over his daughter (not to mention racist) then maybe it wouldn’t have happened. Still not a valid excuse to curse her.

2. Philip II (from Don Carlo by Verdi)

Philip is difficult to put in this list at all because he’s a lot easier to sympathise with than any of the others. He’s kinda got a difficult life, what with being king etc. etc. but he’s still a horrible dad. He cancels his son’s marriage (sure, it was an arranged marriage so it shouldn’t really matter, but they were in love), tries to get permission to kill him and then kills his best friend instead, thereby ruining opera’s greatest bromance (teen speak for ‘ultimate friendship’). And then he changes his mind and decides to try and kill his son after all. It’s fairly self-explanatory as to why this guy is not a good dad. N.B. ‘God did it’ is not a valid excuse for killing your children.

Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II

1. Wotan (from the Ring Cycle by Wagner)

Wotan’s main mistake was basically just having children in the first place. Not only does it make his wife seriously annoyed with him, these children would probably also come first in a list of Opera’s Worst Children. Anyhow, Wotan ends up spending the rest of eternity chasing around the universe trying to make them kill or fall in love with each other. And then one of them blows up the universe. He’s such a bad parent that even his own grandson doesn’t like him. Nice parenting skills.

Bryn Terfel as Wotan and a random bird thing

Obviously, there are other examples of operatic fathers such as Timur (from Turandot), Il Commendatore (from Don Giovanni) and Simon Boccanegra (from Surely You Can Work This One Out Yourself) but I have limited it to the first 5 examples of awful parenting that sprang to mind.

UPDATE~~~ I received an insightful comment on this post that I thought would be nice to share with you all:

Do any of you will cause a reflexive strike for a game fish.
My friend and our editorial director Josh Fruhlinger will be taking 12 individuals through a week of leverage also known
as Survival Gear? survival gear is stimulating, providing enough
energy to do tedious tasks in longer period.
Dec 14, 2010, 7:52am ESTSassy *bacon makes me happy* Cat Dec 14,
2010, 4:10am EST Matthew, Remember the December 15 date I
had mentioned previously?

 

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Me and Wagner

So, a few days ago I wrote an excited Tweet that went as follows:

Oh my god, I’ve just realised something. I LOVE WAGNER. #importantlifemoment”

Judging by the fact that this had 7 retweets and 5 favourites, I’m guessing that other people were a bit excited by it as well. It probably seems a bit weird, having the confidence to start a blog exclusively about opera without really appreciating one of the greatest ever opera composers. But the thing is, I knew this moment was going to come soon.

Up until about a year and a half ago, I had the same reaction as most people do when they encounter Wagner – “Ugh. This thing makes no sense.” Maybe part of this common dislike is the fact that you are always told “Now, you probably won’t like this, but it’s actually very good.” It’s true, I know that now, but it doesn’t really help when you’re trying to form your own opinion on something.

But recently I’ve begun to understand Wagner a lot more. This has happened very slowly, only just fast enough for me to notice it happening. Gradually, change has happened. Last year, when the Ring Cycle from the Met was broadcast on the radio, I was listening to it as a kind of background music. It happened to be on the radio, so I turned on the radio and carried on doing stuff. But then occasionally there would be a phrase or chord that would make me just stop what I was doing and listen. And so, I’ve gradually come around to love this music.

I now feel that I ‘understand’ Walküre, in a rather limited meaning of the word ‘understand’. I have, in a way, learned to love the Ring Cycle in particular. The thought of listening to Parsifal, even with Der Jonas in the title role, still provokes that ‘Ugh.’ But the Ring Cycle, I feel, now makes more sense to me. I like love it and I can understand opinions a lot more. And also, I feel almost closer to it than, say, Puccini, because I’ve made this journey of listening, watching and understanding. With Puccini, I love the music and the drama and more often than not it makes me cry. But I don’t feel quite so drawn into it as some pieces of Wagner, simply because there’s been no change. It’s been wonderful music that I love, right from the start. Wagner has changed, for me and with me and that makes it, in some ways, more special.

I think it was this video that was the turning point.

I was one of the few people, it seems, who really enjoyed the Met’s new Ring production. One particular part of it that I loved were the projections. It must have taken a lot of work and it looks magnificent. With this clip, I think the part that makes it wonderful is the orchestration. I’m not overly fond of the tenor here or the role he’s singing. But the part in the orchestra is perfect, although the singing is necessary. It wouldn’t be right or good without the singing.

2012/13 Season at the Met

Plenty of highlights to look forward to in the Met’s new season. My picks are:

  • L’Elisir D’Amore – In a relatively Netrebko-free season, this is her main appearance, alongside a cast including Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien and her husband Erwin Schrott. Good line up for what will hopefully be an entertaining show.
  • Un Ballo in Maschera – Part of the Verdi/Wagner bicentenary celebrations, this stars Marcelo Alvarez, Sondra Radvanovsky and one of my personal favourites, Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Radvanovsky and Hvorostovsky are known to sing well together and I look forward to discovering a Verdi opera I know very little about.
  • Roberto Alagna returns to Aida as Radames. Let’s see if he can keep his blood sugar levels low this time.
  • Dialogues des Carmelites, famous for its haunting end, does not often come round so this is something to look forward to.
  • Ildar Abdrazakov as Don Giovanni, accompanied by Mr. Netrebko as Leporello.
  •  
  • An interesting Traviata, with Damrau as Violetta and Placido Domingo sings Papa Germont for the first time.
  • What the Met claims is “a rare opportunity to witness Berlioz’s vast epic Les Troyens”, completely ignoring the very recent performance at Covent Garden
  • JDF returns in Le Comte Ory and Elina Garanca in La Clemenza di Tito
  • And of course the return of the vast Ring Cycle which has completely divided opinions. Personally, I love it, which is saying something given that I am not normally very patient at all with Wagner.
  • Also, a Don Carlo with Ramon Vargas although personally I would be more interested in Covent Garden’s upcoming production, starring Jonas Kaufmann.

Most of these performances will be broadcast in cinemas. For the full brochure, go here.