4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Second-best operas of all time

From Rossini, Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, Mozart

From Mozart's Don Giovanni
From Mozart's Don Giovanni

A few weeks ago we did the best second-best symphonies. This week we’re going to do the best second-best operas. For the sake of argument, a composer’s second-best opera is any opera that isn’t his best opera. With certain composers, such as Verdi, determining his best opera is nigh unto impossible but we’ll do our best.

Here are the top five second-best operas ever written.

Video:

Rossini, William Tell (French)

Finale sung by Thomas Hampson - Marcello Giordani - Hasmik Papian - Gaele Le Roi

Finale sung by Thomas Hampson - Marcello Giordani - Hasmik Papian - Gaele Le Roi

William Tell by Giacomo Rossini is the fifth greatest second-best opera. I think we can all agree that The Barber of Seville is the greatest Rossini opera if we combine artistic merit with popular appeal.

William Tell is a completely different animal. It was the last opera written by Rossini and is a serious opera as opposed to his comedic successes. The overture has enjoyed a life of its own in popular culture but the entire opera is a masterpiece.

Video:

Tosca - Te Deum

(Bryn Terfel, The Royal Opera)

(Bryn Terfel, The Royal Opera)

Number four is Tosca by Giacommo Puccini. With Puccini, this is tricky because people tend to have a favorite Puccini opera as opposed to an opinion on which is the greatest Puccini opera. In my opinion, Madama Butterfly is his greatest opera and possibly the most beautiful three hours of music ever written.

Tosca is concise dramatically. It utilizes a love-triangle but it’s not your standard Rom-Com triangle of tepid individuals trying to find someone to grow old with. No, this is a triangle of the passions. Floria Tosca is a jealous scissor-wielding lover, Mario Caravadossi is a hot-headed, thinly veiled, depiction of Caravaggio – the dueling, murdering, Renaissance painter. Scarpia is a menacing sexual monster who enjoys rape and torture with his wine and cheese.

Puccini’s score is as dramatic as his characters. Everyone except the most culturally obtuse loves Tosca from the very first notes of the opera.

Video:

Giuseppe Verdi - La traviata - Card Scene

Tokyo Philarmonic Orchestra conducted by Daniele Belardinelli. Alfredo: Stefano Secco; Violetta: Elena Kelessidi

Tokyo Philarmonic Orchestra conducted by Daniele Belardinelli. Alfredo: Stefano Secco; Violetta: Elena Kelessidi

“La Traviata* is our third entry. I argue for Otello being Verdi’s greatest opera but it just might be La Traviata if we consider it a la Rossini’s Barber of Seville and combine both artistic and popularity in opera houses around the world.

As in Tosca, the story is shaped like a triangle with Violetta the aging “female escort,” Alfredo the ingenue, and Alfredo’s father Germont. The character of The Duke is a toothless rival of Alfredo. The true third angle of the triangle is Gerrmont as it is arguments for Alfredo’s future that leads Violetta to break with Alfredo.

Video:

Richard Wagner Parsifal finale (1981)

Siegfried Jerusalem as Parsifal, Bernd Weikl as Amfortas, Hans Sotin as Gurnemanz

Siegfried Jerusalem as Parsifal, Bernd Weikl as Amfortas, Hans Sotin as Gurnemanz

I’m going to call Parsifal Richard Wagner’s second-best opera behind Tristan and Isolde. The Ring Cycle is in a category of its own. Parsifal is based on the duality of order and chaos, light and dark. This is a theme that runs throughout several Wagner operas such as Tristan and Tannhäuser.

In Parsifal, there is the realm of the Holy Grail and the realm of Klingsor, a dark sorcerer. The realm of The Grail has been infected by Klingsor’s realm and needs to be redeemed by an unwitting hero. Parsifal is a hero who doesn’t know that he is a hero. His naivete is his strength.

Video:

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus - Don Giovanni -"Commendatore"

S. Ramey u. K. Moll

S. Ramey u. K. Moll

Mozart’s Don Giovanni is clearly the greatest second-best opera. I prefer it to The Marriage of Figaro but there is something of a consensus around Figaro as the greatest opera of all time by any composer. Giovanni is about a womanizing chevalier on the surface but scratch that surface and you get a seething critique of the abuses of power in the European caste system.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Stand-up paddleboarders can be tiresome

"I’m not going to try to drop in on someone"
Next Article

Sheet music as tool of colonialism

Oxford itself is a product of Western Civilization
From Mozart's Don Giovanni
From Mozart's Don Giovanni

A few weeks ago we did the best second-best symphonies. This week we’re going to do the best second-best operas. For the sake of argument, a composer’s second-best opera is any opera that isn’t his best opera. With certain composers, such as Verdi, determining his best opera is nigh unto impossible but we’ll do our best.

Here are the top five second-best operas ever written.

Video:

Rossini, William Tell (French)

Finale sung by Thomas Hampson - Marcello Giordani - Hasmik Papian - Gaele Le Roi

Finale sung by Thomas Hampson - Marcello Giordani - Hasmik Papian - Gaele Le Roi

William Tell by Giacomo Rossini is the fifth greatest second-best opera. I think we can all agree that The Barber of Seville is the greatest Rossini opera if we combine artistic merit with popular appeal.

William Tell is a completely different animal. It was the last opera written by Rossini and is a serious opera as opposed to his comedic successes. The overture has enjoyed a life of its own in popular culture but the entire opera is a masterpiece.

Video:

Tosca - Te Deum

(Bryn Terfel, The Royal Opera)

(Bryn Terfel, The Royal Opera)

Number four is Tosca by Giacommo Puccini. With Puccini, this is tricky because people tend to have a favorite Puccini opera as opposed to an opinion on which is the greatest Puccini opera. In my opinion, Madama Butterfly is his greatest opera and possibly the most beautiful three hours of music ever written.

Tosca is concise dramatically. It utilizes a love-triangle but it’s not your standard Rom-Com triangle of tepid individuals trying to find someone to grow old with. No, this is a triangle of the passions. Floria Tosca is a jealous scissor-wielding lover, Mario Caravadossi is a hot-headed, thinly veiled, depiction of Caravaggio – the dueling, murdering, Renaissance painter. Scarpia is a menacing sexual monster who enjoys rape and torture with his wine and cheese.

Puccini’s score is as dramatic as his characters. Everyone except the most culturally obtuse loves Tosca from the very first notes of the opera.

Video:

Giuseppe Verdi - La traviata - Card Scene

Tokyo Philarmonic Orchestra conducted by Daniele Belardinelli. Alfredo: Stefano Secco; Violetta: Elena Kelessidi

Tokyo Philarmonic Orchestra conducted by Daniele Belardinelli. Alfredo: Stefano Secco; Violetta: Elena Kelessidi

“La Traviata* is our third entry. I argue for Otello being Verdi’s greatest opera but it just might be La Traviata if we consider it a la Rossini’s Barber of Seville and combine both artistic and popularity in opera houses around the world.

As in Tosca, the story is shaped like a triangle with Violetta the aging “female escort,” Alfredo the ingenue, and Alfredo’s father Germont. The character of The Duke is a toothless rival of Alfredo. The true third angle of the triangle is Gerrmont as it is arguments for Alfredo’s future that leads Violetta to break with Alfredo.

Video:

Richard Wagner Parsifal finale (1981)

Siegfried Jerusalem as Parsifal, Bernd Weikl as Amfortas, Hans Sotin as Gurnemanz

Siegfried Jerusalem as Parsifal, Bernd Weikl as Amfortas, Hans Sotin as Gurnemanz

I’m going to call Parsifal Richard Wagner’s second-best opera behind Tristan and Isolde. The Ring Cycle is in a category of its own. Parsifal is based on the duality of order and chaos, light and dark. This is a theme that runs throughout several Wagner operas such as Tristan and Tannhäuser.

In Parsifal, there is the realm of the Holy Grail and the realm of Klingsor, a dark sorcerer. The realm of The Grail has been infected by Klingsor’s realm and needs to be redeemed by an unwitting hero. Parsifal is a hero who doesn’t know that he is a hero. His naivete is his strength.

Video:

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus - Don Giovanni -"Commendatore"

S. Ramey u. K. Moll

S. Ramey u. K. Moll

Mozart’s Don Giovanni is clearly the greatest second-best opera. I prefer it to The Marriage of Figaro but there is something of a consensus around Figaro as the greatest opera of all time by any composer. Giovanni is about a womanizing chevalier on the surface but scratch that surface and you get a seething critique of the abuses of power in the European caste system.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Old Joe and the Border Boys

Now playing in wide release!
Next Article

One Season Brewing debuts within TRVLR Coffee

There’s kombucha, electric skateboards, and bicycles for sale too
Comments
1
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
March 19, 2021

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close