Opera for Everyone is a radio show and podcast that aims to “make opera understandable, accessible and enjoyable for all”. Well that sounds like the perfect match for Opera For All. So I checked it out.
Hosted by Keely Herron and Pat Wright, the podcast is aimed at newcomers to the artform. Each episode lasts two hours and in that time concentrates on one opera, explaining what’s going on in layman’s terms while also playing selected music.
No previous experience is assumed, with technical terms fully explained. The hosts provide a wide-ranging discussion to create a comprehensive account of the opera. There’s plenty here for the opera connoisseur too, though, with the in-depth investigation of the work under the magnifying glass – or should that be opera glasses? – revealing all kinds of information to deepen anyone’s enjoyment of each opera.
Occasional guest hosts also pop up from time to time. These are generally people with a particular interest or specialism, such as Kathleen Van De Wille on a recent series featuring operas based on Goethe’s Faust.
The three Faustian works covered are La damnation de Faust by Hector Berlioz (episode 76), Faust by Charles Gounod (episode 78) and Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito (episode 79). The series provides an excellent introduction to and comparison of the operas. You can dive into the podcast at any point, but these three episodes would make a good starting point for anyone with an interest in the Faust story.
Pat is a long-term opera buff and former history teacher – she’s like the knowledgeable and enthusiastic friend you wish you had and who never gets tired of answering your opera questions. Keely, a mental health advocate, writer and public speaker, takes the role of the newcomer to opera and she is the one asking all the questions.
It’s a format that works well. Two hours – shorter than most of the operas featured – is sufficient to really delve into the history, meaning and story of each work, as well as the composer and often the librettist.
The music choices are good, too, providing a sort of greatest hits of songs from each of the works. Tracks from the chorus feature alongside arias from the main characters, offering a solid introduction to the opera.
The interplay between the two hosts is entertaining and informative, and at times laugh-out-loud funny. You never feel out of your depth or talked down to, with Keely asking all those questions you wish you could and Pat providing interesting and easy-to-follow answers.
There are (at time of writing) 84 episodes available, looking at a huge variety of opera standards and less well known pieces. Each provides an excellent insight into the opera being explored and they have certainly inspired me to track down and listen to the full recordings.
• Provided by: KHOL community radio
• Hosted by: Keely Herron and Pat Wright
• Find out more: https://891khol.org/shows/opera-for-everyone/
This is an entertaining and informative podcast that will add to anyone’s enjoyment of opera.