A Passion For Opera

Saturdays, 12p.m. - 1p.m.

Peter Fox Smith has been sharing his love and knowledge of opera with Vermont Public Radio audiences since VPR went on the air in 1977.

Peter lends his extensive experience as a teacher, lecturer, and radio announcer to the program to share his love of the human voice in music. Each week A Passion for Opera will feature a hand-selected program of operatic arias and scenes, along with the occasional thoughtfully crafted theme-oriented program focusing on a particular artist, genre, style, or operatic motif.

Peter also creates programs that make an interesting external connection to the world at large, acknowledging important birthdays, holidays, and special events or landmarks in musical history.

The program offers a monthly opera quiz and a rich weekly blend of operatic arias and scenes along with popular traditions such as the annual tribute to the great Swedish tenor, Jussi Björling, and the "American Musical Sampler" showcase of Broadway and show tunes.

A Passion for Opera provides an engaging, educational weekly stage for the greatest voices the world has ever heard - historic and contemporary alike. The name for the program not only reflects Peter's own devotion to the art, it is also the name of his critically acclaimed comprehensive book on the subject.

Browse Peter's playlists below. For playlists from before April 2013, or to visit the archive from Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, visit the Archive

Poets in Opera

Aug 14, 2017

Poets are significant characters in a number of operas. We'll sample some, including Rodolfo in La bohème, Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger, and Andrea Chénier.

Listen Saturday, August 5 at 12 noon.

We sample a wide variety of operas that feature characters who are singers by trade - from Der Schauspieldirektor to La Gioconda to Die Meistersinger.

Listen Saturday, August 12 at 12 noon.

The Student Prince

Jul 25, 2017

It's the birthday of Sigmund Romberg, the Austro-Hungarian-born composer of operetta. We hear excerpts from his best-known work, The Student Prince, from a 1952 recording with Dorothy Kirsten and Robert Rounseville.

Listen Saturday, July 29 at 12 noon.

I Masnadieri

Jul 18, 2017

I masnadieri was the first of Verdi's operas to be premiered outside of Italy. We hear excerpts from a superb recording that features Montserrat Caballé and Carlo Bergonzi.

Listen Saturday, July 22 at 12 noon.

Opera North

Jul 12, 2017

Peter's special guest is Evans Haile, General Director of Opera North. They talk about the company's upcoming season and play excerpts from this year's three productions, Jacques Offenbach's La belle Hélène, Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

Listen Saturday, July 15 at 12 noon.

Ariadne auf Naxos

Jul 7, 2017

Beautiful music and beautiful singing abound in these excerpts from Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss. The cast includes sopranos Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Rita Streich.

Listen Saturday, July 8 at 12 noon.

Sisters in Opera

Jun 28, 2017

From Fiordiligi and Dorabella in Così fan tutte, to Clorinda and Tisbe in La Cenerentola, to Tatiana and Olga in Eugene Onegin, sisters play an important role in a number of operas. We hear sisters from eight operas by eight different composers.

Listen Saturday, July 1 at 12 noon.

Acis and Galatea

Jun 20, 2017

Handel's Acis and Galatea was the most frequently performed of that composer's works during his lifetime. We hear excerpts from a recording by The English Baroque Soloists.

Listen Saturday, June 24 at 12 noon.

Speak of the Devil

Jun 14, 2017

Two very different operas with similar plot lines are Gounod's Faust and Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. Peter Fox Smith leads us in this exploration.

Listen Saturday, June 17 at 12 noon.

Tristan und Isolde

Jun 6, 2017

Wagner's masterpiece Tristan und Isolde can be said to have changed the course of Western classical music. We hear excerpts from recordings both contemporary and historic.

Listen Saturday, June 10 at 12 noon.

We celebrate the June 3 birthday of American tenor Jan Peerce; the June 3 birthday of the French operetta composer Charles Lecocq; and the June 4 birthday of Italian mezzo- soprano Cecilia Bartoli.

Listen Saturday, June 3 at 12 noon.

We continue our exploration of Prokofiev's War and Peace with excerpts from Part 2.

Listen Saturday, May 27 at 12 noon.

Peter Fox Smith gives us a splendid introduction to Part One of Prokofiev's masterpiece War and Peace. Included in the casts are Galina Vishnevskaya, Gregam Gregoriam, and Nicolai Gedda.

Listen Saturday, May 20 at 12 noon.

Renée Fleming

May 11, 2017

This Saturday, May 13, marks the final Metropolitan Opera broadcast performance by Renée Fleming, who will be heard in her signature role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. On A Passion for Opera we present a tribute to this iconic soprano, featuring music by Mozart, Dvořák, Gounod, Tchaikovsky, and Richard Strauss.

Listen Saturday, May 13 at 12 noon.

Love Duets

May 3, 2017

Love duets in opera do not always lead to happy relationships. We hear a few such duets, from operas as diverse as Manon Lescaut, The Tales of Hoffmann, and Boris Godunov.

Listen Saturday, May 6 at 12 noon.

Il corsaro

May 2, 2017

What is wrong with Verdi's Il corsaro? Excerpts with Montserrat Caballé, Jessye Norman, and José Carreras will provide a happy answer.

Lucrezia Borgia

Apr 18, 2017

In the 19th century, Donizetti's most popular opera was not Lucia di Lammermoor but rather Lucrezia Borgia. We hear selections from a landmark recording that features Montserrat Caballé, Shirley Verrett, and Alfredo Kraus.

Listen Saturday, April 22 at 12 noon.

Medea

Apr 11, 2017

Maria Callas is largely responsible for the re-kindling of interest in Cherubini's masterpiece Medea in the twentieth century. We hear excerpts from her November 6, 1958 performance in Dallas and from a 1989 recording in the original French.

Listen Saturday, April 15 at 12 noon.

Mystery Excerpts

Apr 4, 2017

We hear four mystery opera excerpts (to be identified afterward) - plus a special visit from Anna Russell.

Listen Saturday, April 8 at 12 noon.

April 1 Delights

Mar 28, 2017

We celebrate this special day with a variety of musical excerpts featuring such artists as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Feodor Chaliapin, Maria Galvany, The King's Singers, The Comedian Harmonists, Anna Russell, and Florence Foster Jenkins.

Listen Saturday, April 1 at 12 noon.

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