Rocker Patti Smith's Top Five Operas

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

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

Produced by:

Kim Nowacki and Brian Wise


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Comments [4]


love it.. classic rockers listening to opera. i have a 16 yr old metal head...who asked to go to the opera. she likes to sing in school and church choir.. and to hear the great voices, was like magic to her.. so far, madama butterfly, romeo and juliette, and la boheme. this year she wants to do Aida.
how can i say no,, ??

Aug. 24 2012 08:37 PM
Tucker Ranson from Manhattan

Who is the vocalist and what performance on the Patti Smith promo I hear on WNYC?

I still remembering passing Patti on the street on Union Square back in the 70's. An electrifying moment.

Jul. 14 2012 03:38 PM

Who would have known, I have always felt somewhat intimidated by Patti Smith, yet her favorite operas, except for one, are the ones I would have chosen, for very much the same reasons. Years ago she surprised me when I read that she said she was listenig to Glenn Gould play Bach. Classical music connects us all more than we realize. Thank you Patti Smith for expressing so beautifully what some of us also feel

Jun. 14 2012 09:02 AM
Linda Winkler from Staten Island, NY

Thanks so much for sharing this. I'm a huge fan of Patti Smith and wouldn't have thought she had any connection to opera whatsoever. It's inspired me to give these pieces a better listen, with a more open attitude.

Jun. 10 2012 01:07 PM

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