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

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.

Summer Operas

Jun 23, 2016

We celebrate summer and sun in opera excerpts from a variety of genres, from Verdi and Wagner to Gilbert and Sullivan.

Listen Saturday, June 25 at 12 noon.

Gounod & Weber

Jun 16, 2016

We hear music by Charles Gounod and Carl Maria von Weber in remarkable recordings that feature the voices of Tiana Lemnitz, Nicolai Gedda, and Birgit Nilsson, among others.

Listen Saturday, June 18 at 12 noon.

Munich was the birthplace of Richard Wagner on June 11, 1864 - and the site of the world premiere of Tristan und Isolde on June 10, 1865. We hear excerpts from both operas, including an unusual recording with John McCormack as Tristan!

Listen Saturday, June 11 at 12 noon.

Four More Recitals

Jun 3, 2016

Four singers are featured in recitals of opera arias: Kathleen Battle, José Carreras, Fedora Barbieri, and Sesto Bruscantini.

Listen Saturday, June 4 at 12 noon.

The Flying Dutchman

May 25, 2016

The Flying Dutchman was Wagner's first significant opera - and the first to show signs of the genius that was to flourish in his later operas. We'll hear an analysis and excerpts that feature Deborah Voigt, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Ben Heppner, and others.

Listen Saturday, May 28 at 12 noon.

4 Recitals

May 18, 2016

We present brief recitals by four major singers - two contemporary and two from the past: tenor Juan Diego Flórez, soprano Licia Albanese, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and bass Feodor Chaliapin.

Listen Saturday, May 21 at 12 noon.

Tchaikovsky II

May 9, 2016

We hear more excerpts from Tchaikovsky operas, sung by such artists as Tiana Lemnitz, Jussi Bjoerling, Fritz Wunderlich, and Maria Jeritza.

Listen Saturday, May 14 at 12 noon.


May 3, 2016

We celebrate Tchaikovsky's May 7, 1840 birthday by listening to some exceptionally beautiful singing: Tchaikovsky opera excerpts sung by extraordinary artists who performed almost exclusively in Russia: Konstantin Lisovsky, Sergei Lemeshev, Vitali Kilchevsky, and Pawel Lisizian, among others.

Listen Saturday, May 7 at 12 noon.

Franz Lehár

Apr 26, 2016

We celebrate the April 30, 1870 birthday of Franz Lehár with excerpts from his operettas as sung by Marta Eggerth, Fritz Wunderlich, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Jarmila Novotna, and Richard Tauber.

Listen Saturday, April 30 at 12 noon.


Apr 18, 2016

On this anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, we hear excerpts from vintage recordings of Verdi's Otello, with such singers as Placido Domingo, Jon Vickers, Tito Gobbi, Lawrence Tibbett, and Tiana Lemnitz.

Listen Saturday, April 23 at 12 noon.

L'amico Fritz

Apr 11, 2016


Pietro Mascagni was not a one-opera composer. L'amico Fritz contains some of his most beautiful music. We hear excerpts that feature Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Mafalda Favero, and Tito Schipa.

Listen Saturday, April 16 at 12 noon.

We hear excerpts from Donizetti's La fille du régiment, with Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti, "King of the High C's."

Listen Saturday, April 9 at 12 noon.

We hear two non-operatic works by Giacomo Puccini: his Preludio sinfonico and the Messa di Gloria.

Listen Saturday, April 2 at 12 noon.


Mar 23, 2016

In celebration of the Easter season, we hear excerpts from historic recordings of Wagner's Parsifal.

Listen Saturday, March 26 at 12 noon.


Mar 18, 2016

Gounod's Faust had its premiere in Paris on March 19, 1859. We hear excerpts of historic recordings of this popular and tune-filled opera.

Listen Saturday, March 19 at 12 noon.

We offer two extraordinary excerpts from Donizetti's Don Pasquale and two famous scenes from Verdi's Simon Boccanegra.

Listen Saturday, March 12 at 12 noon.

2 Russian Operas

Feb 16, 2016

Peter Fox Smith shares excerpts from two Russian masterpieces, Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov and Borodin's Prince Igor.

Gianni Schicchi

Feb 16, 2016

We hear the last of Puccini's one-act Triptych operas, the comedy Gianni Schicchi, with Tito Gobbi in the title role.

Listen Saturday, March 5 at 12 noon.

Suor Angelica

Feb 10, 2016

We hear the second of the operas of Puccini's Triptych, Suor Angelica, with Victoria de los Angeles in the title role.

Listen Saturday, February 13 at 12 noon.