March Madness: The Maddest Scenes in Opera

Sunday, March 16, 2014 - 12:00 AM

During March Madness the Operavore Stream is featuring full operas with mad scenes. During March Madness the Operavore Stream is featuring full operas with mad scenes.

• Listen to the Operavore stream

It’s the March Madness Matinee. This week March Madness comes to Operavore with a full length opera every day at 2 pm on the Operavore Stream. 

We aren’t talking about tall men, three point shots, and slam dunks. We are talking about women, high notes and drama: Lucia's breakdown in "Il dolce suono…Spargi d'amaro pianto" and Opheliée’s unraveling in Hamlet ("Pale et blonde"), or Strauss Elektra— basically one long mad scene in itself. So, are you ready to hear some sopranos gone wild?

Check out the schedule below (and consult the playlist for full times and cast details). Also, let us know what your favorite mad scene is in the comment box below.



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Idomeneo: Placido Domingo
Idamante: Cecilia Bartoli
Elettra: Carol Vaness
Arbace: Thomas Hampson
Gran Sacerdote di Nettuno: Frank Lopardo
La Voce: Bryn Terfel
Due Cretesi: Joyce Guyer
Due Troiani: Paul Groves
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Conducted by James Levine


Ambroise Thomas
Hamlet: Sherrill Milnes
Ophélie: Joan Sutherland
Claudius: James Morris
Gertrude: Barbara Conrad
Läerte: Gösta Winbergh
Marcellus: Keith Lewis
Horatio: Philip Gelling
Le Spectre: John Tomlinson
Polonius: Arwel Huw Morgan
Premier fossoyeur: Peyo Garazzi
Second fossoyeur: Joseph Rouleau
Orchestra and Chorus for the Welsh National Opera
Conducted by Richard Bonynge


I Puritani
Vincenzo Bellini
Elvira: Joan Sutherland
Arturo Talbo: Luciano Pavarotti
Riccardo: Piero Cappuccilli
Giorgio Valton: Nicolai Ghiarov
Chorus of the Royal Opera House
London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Richard Bonynge


Lucia di Lammermoor
Gaetano Donizetti
Lucia: Maria Callas
Edgardo: Giuseppe di Stefano
Enrico: Tito Gobbi
Arturo: Raffaele Arié
Alisa: Anna Maria Canali
Normanno: Gino Sarri
Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Conducted by Tullio Serafin


Leonard Bernstein
Candide: Jerry Hadley
Cunegonde: June Anderson
Dr. Pangloss/Martin: Adolph Green
Old Lady: Christa Ludwig
Governor/Vanderdendur/Ragotski: Nicolai Gedda
Paquette: Della Jones
Maximilian/Captain: Kurt Ollmann
London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Leonard Bernstein 


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Comments [5]

Gev Sweeney from The Jersey Shore

Had no idea that Lily Munster sang a Mad Scene! What an over-the-top pic ...

Mar. 18 2014 09:36 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Oh yes indeed! The Sleepwalking Scene from Macbeth is a mad scene. Lady Macbeth has gone bonkers. Beautiful music however.

Mar. 17 2014 11:13 AM
Suzanne from New York

Where's the mad scene in "Candide"? "Glitter and Be Gay" may have manic moments, but it is not a mad scene.

Where is "Peter Grimes" or "Semiramide," if you want to play a mad scene sung by a man? You could say the "Sleepwalking Scene" from "Macbeth" is a kind of mad scene. . .

Mar. 17 2014 09:46 AM
Emma from Long Island, NY

Candide is an opera? I thought it was a book and a musical...

Mar. 16 2014 04:32 PM

Lucia wins for psychological insight and melodic invention, though this Callas version doesn't use the glass harmonica which was the composer's intention. There are at least four other mad scenes by Donizetti who himself went mad at the end of his life worth adding to the list, Anna Bolena, Linda di Chamounix, Torquato Tasso (for baritone) and Poliuto, A. Tommasini once called the end of act 2 "a mad scene for chorus".

Mar. 16 2014 02:16 PM

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Operavore is WQXR's digital 24/7 audio stream and devoted to Opera. The Operavore blog features breaking news, expert commentary and reviews by writers Fred Plotkin, David Patrick Stearns, Amanda Angel and others. The music stream features a continuous, carefully programmed mix of classic and contemporary opera recordings.

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