|"Ballet Scene from Meyerbeer's Opera Robert Le Diable" |
by Edgard Degas - Courtesy V&A Museum
It can happen to anyone, from the seasoned opera goer to the layman attending his first performance. The fact of the matter is, everyone is familiar with opera; most people just don't know it. We are exposed to it on a daily basis. Turn on your television and you will see a Kohler commercial set to "Firi...me Lassa" from Bellini's I Puritani; watch a Bond movie and get thrown into the middle of a Tosca performance; read Tolstoy's War and Peace and you will be transported to an opera house in Russia; go to any museum and imagine yourself at the opera.
Many people have been watching opera since they were little...and most of them remember. Ask the average person if they have ever heard opera before and they will all give you the same answer: "I watched The Rabbit of Seville when I was young." One would hope that everyone who ever saw this cartoon would be a major opera lover by now, but sometimes the exposure to opera in (recent) pop culture does more harm than good.
Opera really grabs my attention when it is featured in a movie, no matter how it is used. There are several ways this can happen:
- As part of the story line, as is the case in Lucine Visconti's Senso
- As part of the soundtrack to set the mood, as in Apocalypse Now
- As an actual movie, such as Kenneth Branagh's The Magic Flute
This is just one example of how opera plays an important part in movies. Check back in the next few days for more on this topic. Meanwhile, leave a comment telling us all about your favorite opera moments in movies, television shows...
The Washington Post - Opera in film: Suspenseful, glamorous and overpowering
OperaVore - 'Lincoln' Reveals 16th President's Passion for Opera
NYTimes - How Hollywood Films are Killing Opera