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


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.


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.


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.

We hear selections from three operas that had their premieres during the first week of February: Charpentier's Louise, Rossini's Semiramide, and Verdi's Otello.

Listen Saturday, February 4 at 12 noon.


Jan 24, 2017

We honor Mozart's January 27th Birthday with a program of excerpts from some of his early operas - plus a remembrance of American coloratura soprano Roberta Peters, who died recently.

We concentrate on Act III of Tosca, and we consider the kinship of Puccini's three major soprano roles, Mimì, Tosca, and Butterfly.

Listen Saturday, January 21 at 12 noon.


Jan 11, 2017

We hear excerpts from one of the most popular of all operas, Puccini's Tosca, with such singers as Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Tito Gobbi, and Ruggero Raimondi.

Listen Saturday, January 14 at 12 noon.


Jan 3, 2017

Excerpts from Handel's opera seria, Ariodante serves as an introduction to Handelian opera. Dame Janet Baker sings the title role.

Listen Saturday, January 7 at 12 noon.

Don Pasquale

Dec 28, 2016

We hear excerpts from Donizetti's comic masterpiece Don Pasquale, with Fernando Corena in the title role.

Listen Saturday, December 31 at 12 noon.

Holiday Music

Dec 20, 2016

We present music appropriate to Christmas, including Wagner's Siegfried-Idyll and excerpts from Amahl and the Night Visitors, Hänsel und Gretel, and Puccini's La bohème.

Listen Saturday, December 24 at 12 noon.

Cimarosa's Il matrimonio segreto is believed to be the only opera ever encored in its entirety on its first performance. We hear excerpts from two fine recordings.

Listen Saturday, December 17 at 12 noon.

Puccini joined the 20th century musically with La fanciulla del West in 1910. We present an introduction to this opera with excerpts performed by such singers as Placido Domingo, Carol Neblett, Dennis O'Neill, and Eva Marton.

Listen Saturday, December 10 at 12 noon.

We present a recital by soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Marcelo Álvarez, who star in Saturday's Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Puccini's Manon Lescaut.

Listen Saturday, December 3 at 12 noon.