Classical Music

La Traviata

By Giuseppe Verdi

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The setting is Paris & the surrounding area in August 1850 through February 1851. The story depicts a young man, Alfredo Germont, who falls in love with a prostitute, Violetta. She eventually realizes that she might love Alfredo as well, but does not feel that a relationship is possible because of her unworthiness as a member of a much lower class.

The library has this opera in DVD, VHS & CD formats.

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La Bohème

By Giacomo Puccini

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La Bohème is a story of young love set in the bohemian culture of 1830s Paris. The bittersweet tragedy centers around an optimistic group of friends surviving on limited means. Rodolfo, a poet, shares a garret with his artist friend. Mimi is a seamstress living in a neighboring apartment. Mimi and Rodolfo meet and fall instantly, madly, in love. But the diva is already desperately ill with tuberculosis and not long for the world. Available in DVD format, plus CDs.

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Eugene Onegin

By Piotr Tchaikovsky

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In the opulent St. Petersburg of the Empire period, Eugene Onegin is a jaded but dashing aristocrat - a man often lacking in empathy, who suffers from restlessness, melancholy and, finally, regret. Through his best friend Lensky, Onegin is introduced to the young Tatiana. A passionate and virtuous girl, she soon falls hopelessly under the spell of the aloof newcomer and professes her love for him. His refusal of her (in addition to his other amorous intrigues) sets in motion a series of events which culminate in tragedy and thwarted love. The library has a DVD of this lyric opera as well as the original novel in verse by Pushkin.

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Don Giovanni

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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The story, set in 17th-century Seville, centers around a young nobleman who is obsessed with amorous conquest. It follows his romantic exploits and continued encounters with Donna Anna, the woman who plots to destroy him. Cast includes Kiri Te Kanawa, Jose van Dam & Teresa Berganza. Available in DVD, VHS,CDs Plus CD highlight versions.

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Carmen

By Georges Bizet

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Carmen, a gypsy woman working in a cigar factory in Seville, enchants and bewitches the soldier Don José. He longingly obeys her commands and helps her escape arrest, although she was under his guard. Unfortunately, this action places
Don José in prison instead. Upon his release, he seeks out Carmen at the tavern of Lillas Pastia, and there decides to cast his lot in with Carmen and her smuggler friends, at the cost of his military career. Now immersed in a struggle to keep up with the smugglers as well as preserve his claim on Carmen, Don José unravels.

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The Barber of Seville

By Gioacchini Rossini

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The setting is 17th-century Seville. This production of Barber is appropriately over-the-top; the costumes reflect, in a very concrete sense, the occupations of each character (Figaro in barber stripes, "Lindoro" the "student" with books attached all over his coat, Berta wearing various cleaning items in various places on her clothes), Rosina shatters a glass while singing her second-act aria (much to her delight, as she picks up a shard and shows it proudly to Almaviva prior to continuing), et cetera.

Seeing as how Barber is over-the-top in the first place, the way the cast and crew play with this production only makes it more delightful--it would be much worse if one were to take it seriously. Beverly Sills is an outstanding Rosina. This is a wonderful treat to view. A must see. Available in VHS format. Other Rossini operas in our CD collection include La Cenerentola, featuring Cecilia Bartoli, and L'Italiana in Algeri, featuring Teresa Berganza.

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Aida

By Verdi

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Setting is in Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs. Aida, captive daughter of Ethiopian King, falls in love with the warrior-prince Radames, the new leader of the Egyptian Army. She has a powerful rival in Princess Amneris. Radames brings back Aida's father as captive; he forces his daughter to trick her lover (Radames) into betraying military secrets.

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Tristan und Isolde

By Richard Wagner

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Setting: legendary times.
The story is about Tristan, whose name meant sadness, and was given to him after his mother's death in childbirth. Because he was the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, it was Tristan's duty to provide an escort for King Mark's betrothed, the beautiful and fiery Isolde, on her way to join King Mark and become his bride. On the long journey, Tristan and Isolde realize their passion for each other and attempt suicide by drinking what they believe to be a death potion; however, Isolde's maid, not willing to help Isolde die substitutes a love potion, causing them to fall even more deeply in love. What follows is the sad tale of their love, separation and death.

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Der Ring des Nibelungen

By Richard Wagner

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Commonly referred to as "The Ring", it contains four operas. The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold stolen from the river Rhine. Several mythic figures struggle for possession of the Ring, including Wotan (Odin), the chief of the Gods. Wotan's scheme, spanning generations, to overcome his limitations, drives much of the action in the story. The hero Siegfried wins the Ring, as Wotan intended, but is eventually betrayed and slain. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, Siegfried's lover and Wotan's estranged daughter, returns the Ring to the Rhine. In the process, the Gods are destroyed. "The Ring" is not for the novice listener.

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Rinaldo

By George Handel

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Set in 12th century crusade battle for Jerusalem, Goffredo and his brother Eustazio (the fine Daniel Taylor) go to a Christian magician and receive magic wands with which they destroy the castle and free Rinaldo and Almirena. Available in CD format.

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