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


Nov 22, 2016

Giving thanks this holiday weekend for the collaboration between W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, we hear excerpts from Iolanthe, possibly the best of them all.

Listen Saturday, November 26 at 12 noon.

Mozart's short opera Bastien und Bastienne was written when he was only 12 years old.

Listen Saturday, November 19 at 12 noon.

The Indian Queen

Nov 9, 2016

We hear music from Henry Purcell's "semi-opera", The Indian Queen, with additional music by his brother, Daniel.

Listen Saturday, November 12 at 12 noon.

Hans Sachs

Nov 2, 2016

We celebrate the November 5, 1494 Birthday of the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, whom Wagner immortalized in his opera Die Meistersinger. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau portrays Sachs in excerpts.

Listen Saturday, November 5 at 12 noon.


Oct 27, 2016

We hear the operatic preludes that set the scene for Act I of Pagliacci, Peter Grimes, and Götterdämmerung.

Listen Saturday, October 29 at 12 noon.

Waltzes by Johann Strauss II are heard in his operetta A Night in Venice, with soloists, the Bregenz Festival Chorus, and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anton Paulik.

Listen Saturday, October 22 at 12 noon.

Wiener Blut

Oct 13, 2016

Join us for the beautiful melodies of Johann Strauss II's Wiener Blut, with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Nicolai Gedda.

Listen Saturday, October 15 at 12 noon.

La voix humaine

Sep 26, 2016

Francis Poulenc's La voix humaine, with libretto by Jean Cocteau, is preceded by two short 20th century opera tidbits: an orchestral excerpt from Der Rosenkavalier conducted by Richard Strauss; and William Mayer's very short A Brief Candle.

Listen Saturday, October 1 at 12 noon.

Porgy and Bess

Sep 20, 2016

We mark the September 26, 1898 birthday of George Gershwin with excerpts from the most successful of all American operas, Porgy and Bess.

Listen Saturday, September 24 at 12 noon.

Gounod & Offenbach

Sep 14, 2016

We hear excerpts from two French operas: Gounod's Faust, featuring the superb tenor Léopold Simoneau; and Offenbach's little-known operetta Madame l'archiduc.

Listen Saturday, September 17 at 12 noon.

On our annual "Jussi Björling In Memoriam" program, we present recently released rare recordings by the great Swedish tenor.

Listen Saturday, September 10 at 12 noon.

La Wally

Aug 26, 2016

We present excerpts from La Wally by Alfredo Catalani, featuring Renata Tebaldi in the title role.

Listen Saturday, September 3 at 12 noon.

Peter's special guest is Marjan Kiepura, who shares recordings by his famous parents, Jan Kiepura and Marta Eggerth.

Listen Saturday, August 27 at 12 noon.

We hear music from the Broadway musical Finian's Rainbow; from Victor Herbert's Naughty Marietta; and from Gilbert & Sullivan's Iolanthe.

Listen Saturday, August 20 at 12 noon.

The Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival will be in residence in Vermont from August 15 through 28. We hear highlights from past seasons, including the Brahms Sextet, Op. 36.

Listen Saturday, August 13 at 12 noon.


Jul 26, 2016

Join us for a tune-filled hour of operetta, featuring music by Lehár, Zeller, Offenbach, and Johann Strauss, among others, sung by such artists as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Franz Völker.

Listen on Saturday, July 30 at 12 noon.

We hear excerpts from Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio in historic performances by such singers as Leopold Simoneau, Erna Berger, Gottlob Frick, and Fritz Wunderlich.

Listen Saturday, July 23 at 12 noon.

Opera North

Jul 13, 2016

Peter's special guest is Evans Haile, General Director of Opera North. They discuss, and play excerpts from, the three theater pieces that Opera North is presenting this summer: Tosca, The Daughter of the Regiment, and Evita.

Listen Saturday, July 16 at 12 noon.

We present excerpts from operas by Gluck, including Armide, Alceste, Iphigénie en Aulide, and Orfeo - with such singers as Frida Leider, Elisabeth Rethberg, Léopold Simoneau, and Kirsten Flagstad.

Listen Saturday, July 9 at 12 noon.

In honor of summer, we hear excerpts from Wagner's Die Meistersinger, with José van Dam as Hans Sachs and Ben Heppner as Walther von Stolzing.

Listen Saturday, July 2 at 12 noon.