Rákóczi March — my first complete opera

The Rákóczi March, also known as the “Hungarian March”, is the unofficial anthem of Hungary (according to wikipedia).  It’s a very famous piece of music; here’s a youtube sample.  I first heard it in a cassette tape of the 1996 winter olympic music without knowing its name, then again at a “Tchaikovsky and Fireworks” concert in Hollywood Bowl in 1997.  After some digging, it turns out Berlioz used the March in his opera “La Damnation de Faust”.  Since I knew nothing about operas back then and didn’t have much money, i only bought a low-budget version of the March.  A couple years later, after moving to boston, i found out the MIT music library has a recording of Berlioz’s opera and promptly checked it out.

I think to listen to operas, one needs a little bit of patience, especially when there’s a lot of talking involved.  Some operas, however, are great for listening without the need to watch simply because the music is beautiful.  “La Damnation de Faust” is definitely one of those.  The  opening tune alone sucks you in completely.  In my first 2 yrs in grad school, I must have listened to this complete opera at least 100 times, often on repeats, without knowing much the details of the story (the cd set did come w/ a book of libretto though).  I did cut out a very beautiful aria for playlist listening, and only recently found out it’s a very famous aria for mezzo sopranos.  Here’s D’amour l’ardente flamme , with its full 3-page analysis done by Smorg at the Associated Press (some arias deserve their own essays). Of course there are other nice arias scattered everywhere in this work, and the tenor’s music is beautiful all around.  This opera is somehow not very often staged here in the US, so i still have never seen it live.  Frau Kasarova did sing it in a fully staged performance at the Salzburg Festival in 1999 though, so of course i now own the dvd.

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About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

2 Responses to Rákóczi March — my first complete opera

  1. I love D’amour l’ardente flamme too. There’s a part in there that sounds like Marguerite is overcome by thundering sobs.

    Apparently, Berlioz preferred this work to be performed in concert rather than opera, but people haven’t been following his desires, luckily. If I remember correctly, one of the more (in)famous stagings is by Robert Lepage, available on DVD.

  2. thả diều says:

    hi DtO, thanks for stopping by! I’m just curious why it’s not more often staged because the music is so very beautiful. Actually there’s another section in the opera, when Marguerite first appears.. ah, i found the aria title here: “Le roi de Thulé (Chanson gothique)” which is also very nice. Those were the 2 arias I cut out. I’ll check that staging by Robert Lepage out.
    greetings from very warm Los Angeles.

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