Since the release of her debut album "Horses" in 1975, Patti Smith has created music rooted in noisy, primitive, three-chord rock & roll. She has influenced a generation of female rock artists, and has been a key figure on the downtown New York arts scene.
Smith is also an opera lover. It's a passion that goes back to grade school in New Jersey, when her music teacher played an aria from Madama Butterfly for the class. "Because I tour a lot, if I have a day off and there's an opera, I'll go hear it," she said. She's particularly a fan of the German Wagnerian singer Waltraud Meier, and has flown twice to La Scala to see her in Tristan und Isolde.
A love of opera is not unusual for a singer who has created art installations, had her photographs assembled for a global exhibition and written Just Kids, an award-winning memoir. This month, Smith released "Banga," her first studio album in eight years.
Smith said one of the best times to experience opera is at bedtime. "The end of Parsifal is great to go to sleep to," she noted. Her five favorite operas follow:
1. Wagner's Parsifal
2. Wagner's Tristan und Isolde
3. Puccini's Madama Butterfly
4. Verdi's La Traviata
5. Puccini's Tosca