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Opera Without Words

The world of opera is ever expanding and constantly pulling in new listeners. But some folks out there just can get past the sound of the classically trained voice. If you’re one of these people, then the BBC Concert Orchestra is your new best friend. On “Opera without Words” conductor Leonard Slatkin leads them in orchestral versions of classics from Leoncavallo, Verdi, Mozart and more.

Many of the great opera composers weren’t just creating music that put the voice on a pedestal. To these composers, the drama was as tightly associated with the orchestra as it was with the prima donna. One of the great masters of this lush instrumental illustration was the great Giacomo Puccini. Here we hear the masterpiece “Nessun dorma” from “Turandot.”

Our quick pick this week is a more than an afterthought. Mark O’Connor’s “variations on Appalachia Waltz”, which he titles “Americana Symphony” is a new American standard in the tradition of Aaron Copland. Marin Alsop directs the Baltimore Symphony in this world premiere recording which also includes O’Connor’s sixth concerto, “Old Brass.”

Music Heard On This Episode

Delibes, Leo (1836-1891): Flower Duet from Lakme
Leonard Slatkin/BBC Concert Orchestra — Opera Without Words (Decca, 2002)
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Delibes, Leo (1836-1891): Flower Duet from Lakme
Leonard Slatkin/BBC Concert Orchestra — Opera Without Words (Decca, 2002)
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album cover
Bizet, Georges (1838-1875): Habanera from Carmen
Leonard Slatkin/BBC Concert Orchestra — Opera Without Words (Decca, 2002)
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Puccini, Giacomo (1858-1925): Nessun Dorma from Turandot
Leonard Slatkin/BBC Concert Orchestra — Opera Without Words (Decca, 2002)
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O'Connor, Mark (b. 1962): Americana Symphony: Fugue in Six Parts
Marin Alsop/Baltimore Symphony Orchestra — Americana Symphony (Omac, 2009)
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O'Connor, Mark (b. 1962: Americana Symphony:Theme
Marin Alsop/Baltimore Symphony Orchestra — Americana Symphony (Omac, 2009)
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album cover
David Wood

Originally from Leavenworth, Kansas, David Wood moved to Bloomington in 2005. He received his Bachelor of Music from Kansas State University, and his Master of Music from the University of North Texas. He studied ensemble direction at the Jacobs School of Music's Early Music Institute and joined WFIU in 2006 as an announcer. In 2008 he became WFIU's Music Director and also served as Art Bureau Chief from 2008-2013. David’s interests include Irish music and language (particularly traditional singing), music and religion, running, the outdoors, and, of course, classical music!

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