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Opera lovers please help (Prague, Vienna,Budapest)

Opera lovers please help (Prague, Vienna,Budapest)

Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 04:24 PM
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Opera lovers please help (Prague, Vienna,Budapest)

We're visiting Prague, Budapest,Vienna in mid May. I want to go to an opera (our first). I don't know which city or opera would be the best experience for first timers. some I've seen playing are: Anna Karenina, Tosca, Mad.Butterfly,Osud/Le Villi, La Traviata, Magic Flute. what do you suggest? any to stay away from? I love classical music and also want to attend some concerts in Vienna. thank you!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 04:37 PM
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I haven't been to any of the cities you're heading, but based on the operas alone, you can't go wrong with these:
Madame Butterfly
La Traviata
or Magic Flute
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 04:39 PM
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I have been to the opera in Vienna and Budapest. A few things you might wish to consider - the opera, the house and the price.

The opera - for a first timer you might find Tosca, M Butterfly, La Traviata, Magic Flute more "accessible" - however this is all a matter of taste. I would not consider myself an opera "buff" but love Wagner which many feel is "heavy".

The house - both Vienna and Budapest (be careful opera is also shown at the Erkel theatre - which is a typical communist block theatre - with the emphasis on block) are classical opera houses (at least in my HMO). The exsperiences are different but both wonderful.

Price - this is where there is a huge differnece - book through the net and the Budapest tickets are signifcnatly cheaper. We had tickets for Die Meistersinger in Vienna for approx E150 each (good seats but not the best). When we booked for Budapest the expensive tickets had gone for we paid approx US$5 per ticket - not great seats but at that price!!!

So if you have the time I would book both! reasonable tickets in Vienna and cheaper tickets in Budapest (which wil cost you almost nothing)

Sorry can't help with Prague - haven't been there yet - but am going in June. the Estates Theatre is the one that was in Amadeus and is the only opera house left in which Mozart conducted - if that is important.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 04:53 PM
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Just to let you know that in Vienna, close to the opera house, is a 1/2 price ticket booth.We were able to see the fantastic musical "Elizabeth" for 36 euros. Enjoy.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 04:56 PM
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Thanks wombat and YK. Now I'm thinking Mad butterfly or La Traviata in Prague at state opera house (looks beautiful) and Tosca in Budapest.In Vienna, we could see a concert or Vienna Boys Choir is performing one night we're there. Or, try and find a good deal on opera ticket. thanks!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 05:01 PM
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Tuni
Not sure when you are going but just went onto the Budapest Opera website and they have ticket for E23 - which would be reasonable seats. Alternatively get the cheapest seats and sit up in the Gods - dirt cheap and a great experience - except the surtitles are in Hungarian which is disconcerting - in places you think you can read the words but they make no sense
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 05:03 PM
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We saw Nabucco at Prague State Opera House in early October & bought the tickets ($50 Canadian each in best seats)through Bohemia Tickets.They can be purchased online.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 05:06 PM
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By the way, it's strange to watch an Italian opera in a theatre with Czech subtitles. Read the synopsis beforehand in English so you'll have an idea what the story's about.
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Old Jan 4th, 2006, 01:11 AM
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Swan Lake is being performed in Vienna in Mid May - that might also be intersting for you.
 
Old Jan 4th, 2006, 04:13 AM
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I have also been to the opera in Vienna and Budapest.

Although the opera house in Vienna looks old & ornate from outside, it was almost destroyed in World War II & rebuilt in the 1950s. The interior is very 1950s & to my taste very plain & quite ugly. Tickets go on sale one month beforehand & my husband phoned up to get our tickets : I can't remember exactly how much they were but it was nothing like €150 each - c.€50-60 each I think - & we sat in the centre stalls. Maybe it was cheaper than usual because it was 'Billy Budd'. I would expect 'Meistersinger' to be more expensive than usual since it is long.

Budapest was a traditional grand old house with boxes all the way round. We got our hotel conciege to get us tickets & they were still only £9 each.

I'd strongly recommend 1) 'Madama Butterfly', 2) 'Tosca' or 3) 'La Traviata' for your first opera experience. Apart from the fact that I don't like Mozart myself, a lot of people who do like Mozart think 'The Magic Flute' is rubbish !

I also echo others' recommendations to bone up on the plot first. Although my husband, who speaks German, reckoned he got more out of the German surtitles in Vienna than from the English singing !
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Old Jan 4th, 2006, 05:16 AM
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There's an interesting tour of the opera house in Vienna that may be of interest. When I attended an opera there, I got standing room tickets, but noted there was an opera synopsis in many languages, including English, in the program.
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Old Jan 4th, 2006, 04:04 PM
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thanks everyone. I'm getting excited about seeing my first opera. Any suggestions for other music experiences in one of these cities? I read the Mozart concerts in Vienna are for tourists. thanks
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 08:05 AM
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We will be in Vienna from February 20th to tthe 23rd. Does anyone know which operas will be playing then. We've got 3 teenagers that have never been to the opera so this will be a first. We would have loved to see the Vienna Boy's Choir but my understanding is that they won't be performing.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Barbara
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 08:34 AM
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Here is a good website for Prague and should help you make some decisions on what you want to see and where you want to see it:

http://www.czechopera.cz/

We went to the National Theater (Narodni Divadlo), which is absolutely gorgeous, and saw Smetana's Bartered Bride, which we enjoyed very much and thought appropriate to see an opera by a Czech composer. I ordered our tickets online and we picked them up at the box office in Prague.

The site I've suggested gives you pictures of each theater and what is currently playing. I found it most helpful when planning our trip.
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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One of the theaters in Prague was used for the filming of AMADEUS because of its old-fashioned charm (as was the city of Prague for the street scenes.) I've seen several of the operas you mention, and Madame Butterfly is far and away my favorite, with lovely arias and a touching story. So I'd definitely see Madame Butterfly in Prague.
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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I remember my first live opera: Aida. The next night, Carmen.

Of the ones you list, my pick would be La Traviata. Next, Tosca. After that, perhaps Madam Butterfly, although I never liked the final scene where Cio Cio San dies. The love duet at the end of the first act can be thrilling if you have a decent tenor, something of a rare commodity these days.

On the other hand there is a good crop of mezzo sopranos around. The Metropolitan Opera seems to pull dramatic, beautifully voiced mezzos out of a hat.

I don't know their schedules but for a good tenor, if you see the name Fabio Armiliato, go! Or Franco Farina (an American). For a mezzo from that part of the world, Mzia Nioradze is excellent. However, she sings all over the world! Chances are slim of finding her in Vienna or Prague when you are there.

Unfortunately, Armiliato will be done with his Vienna engagement by the time you arrive.

On the other hand, in any of the 3 cities, you will have a good cast.

In Vienna, there are two opera houses:
die Staatsoper and die Volksoper.

The "State Opera" is the higher priced of the two. Its productions are comparable to those at the Met in New York City. Usually the singers have an international vogue.

Operas at the Volksoper are lower in cost and the opera house itself is not as fancy or as large as the Staatsoper. I have attended 4 performances at the Volksoper and have no problem with them other than a few nit picks.

We attended a performance of La Traviata and I expected a second rate cast. Not the case.

I do think that lighter productions like Die Lustige Witwe (Merry Widow) and Die Fledermaus get relatively better productions at the Volksoper than some of the "heavier" operas. The performance of the Merry Widow was scintillating. Unfortunately, the spoken dialogue is not standard, so my efforts to memorize the whole libretto were for naught. The arias of course are standard from production to production. Those I could follow.

In attending an opera, I think you need to be familiar with the plot. Otherwise, it is hard to know what all the yowling is about. Subtitles might help, but not if the singing is in Italian and the subtitles are in German or Hungarian!! (Unless you are fluent in one of those 3 languages!)

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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:29 AM
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and go to www.belcanto.hu , reservations a MUST, for dinner AFTER the opera and continue with the fun waiters and great music.
one of themany budapest highlights of our 5 nights in hungary.

you won't regret it!
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:32 AM
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choose and pay for your own seats at www.jegymester.hu. for budapest.
why pay a middle man?

they are so reasonable.. even if you only stay for part of the opera, the building is worth the visit.

nice drinks and snacks, also, at local prices (well, better than some cafés, at least).
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:37 AM
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Good suggestions! Know, that none is best! All are good. Get opera schedules for each city. Buy a text with opera synopses. All operas are wonderful music. Each is a 'classic' story. Some are very old and some young. You and I will be gone but the operas will be here, maybe forever. Don't neglect or overlook ballets. Today operas and ballets are available on videos. You can review your choices. Directors often present performances far from the author's. Madame Butterfly is one.
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