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

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.

Trial By Jury

Mar 17, 2017

Trial by Jury was the first successful collaboration by Gilbert & Sullivan; The Gondoliers was the last of the successful Savoy operas. We'll hear a 1995 recording of Trial by Jury (with Richard Suart as the Learned Judge) and a vintage recording of excerpts from The Gondoliers (with Martyn Green as the Duke of Plaza-Toro).

Listen Saturday, March 25 at 12 noon.

Sadko

Mar 14, 2017

We hear excerpts from Rimsky-Korsakov's most popular opera, Sadko, featuring the voices of Vladimir Galusin and Gegan Grigorian.

Listen Saturday, March 18 at 12 noon.

Don Carlo

Mar 7, 2017

We hear music from Verdi's Don Carlo, which had its premiere on this date in 1867.

Listen Saturday, March 11 at 12 noon.

Daniel-François Auber was once an immensely popular composer. We sample music from his opera Le domino noir.

Listen Saturday, March 4 at 12 noon.

La scala di seta

Feb 21, 2017

We hear excerpts from La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder), a one-act comic opera by the 20 year old Gioachino Rossini.

Listen Saturday, February 25 at 12 noon.

Treemonisha

Feb 16, 2017

In celebration of Black History Month, we hear excerpts from Scott Joplin's opera Treemonisha. And we honor the life of tenor Nicolai Gedda, who died last month at the age of 91.

Listen Saturday, February 18 at 12 noon.

February operatic premieres include Verdi's I Lombardi, Handel's Serse and Rodelinda, and Massenet's Werther. We'll hear excerpts from these operas.

Listen Saturday, February 11 at 12 noon.

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