Get a leg up, before going out.
The Royal Opera House Podcasts
London's most famous opera house presents a series of lectures and interviews with the cream of the opera crop. Thomas Adès, whose reworking of Shakespeare's The Tempest premiered stateside at last year's Santa Fe Opera, speaks on the process of translating the literary work to the stage. Other episodes include a discussion with the artist Martin Firrell about a public art piece he projected onto the opera house; and an interview with Argentinian tenor, José Cura. Each episode is less than 15 minutes, making it the perfect morsel for the drive to the Santa Fe Opera.
San Francisco Opera Podcast
That other SF, San Francisco, offers bite-sized (10 or so minutes) synopses of the great operas. General Director David Gockley illustrates the stories of operas such as Die Fledermaus, Tristan and Isolde, The Barber of Seville and Der Rosenkavalier. The commentary is interspersed with music and there is also an hour-long interview by Gockley with opera icon Deborah Voigt. The San Francisco Opera's podcasts are a wonderful introduction to the great works, or a helpful reminder for old opera hats.
Opera Talk! with Nick Reveles
The University of California television station broadcasts its Opera Talk! series around the world in order to give access to the masses. Nick Reveles dispels many of the rumors that float around the opera world, such as Mozart's extraordinary death, which was actually caused by inadequate medicine of the time, through visual cues and pop culture references. The revered Carmen is described to viewers through the metaphor of film. Carmen was shocking when it premiered because most operas had, until that time, been family-friendly affairs. While Reveles digs deep into the operas, his scholarly take during half-hour lectures take concentration, and the visual aids exist more to focus the mind than to supplement the text.