Opera Does Have Its Place in Movies

 
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    January 26, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Opera music is usually quite emotional, and as such can be very useful in films to quickly convey a particular feeling to the audience. Even though they may not understand the words or know what the song is about, generally they will appreciate the sentiment that is being conveyed.

    Even better is when the words do in fact coincide with the movie itself. Here are six great examples of using opera music in movies

    Questa O Quella from Rigoletto – Verdi -- Wall Street

    Wall Street epitomized ’80′s greed and excess as it was the story of a young stockbroker who begins to think and act like his hero by using insider trading to try to gain riches beyond his belief .The Opera Rigoletto tells of a self-centered playboy Duke who casually seduces women and abandons them. Questa O Quella was in Wall Street while the Bud has has dinner with his materialistic girlfriend Darien. The lyrics translate to “This girl or that girl are just the same to me…”

    Dance of the Hours from La Gioconda – Ponchielli -- Fantasia

    Fantasia, as you probably know, was an animated Disney film set to classical music. One must admire the juxtaposition of a scene featuring hippos and ostriches dancing to a song from an opera set during the Inquisition.

    Il Dolce Suono from Lucia di Lammermoor – Donizetti -- Fifth Element

    If you really think about it, The Fifth Element is not the kind of movie where one would expect Opera music. Granted Luc Besson does like to use weird music in his movies, action films don’t really lend themselves to Opera all that often. This is nicely well suited to go with Lucia di Lammermoor, particularly Il Dolce Suono, in which Lucia sings of being with her lover Edgardo, soon to be happily married. Unfortunately, at the time she is singing this, she has just murdered her husband Arturo.

    Barcarolle from Les Contes d’Hoffmann – Offenbach -- Life is Beautiful

    Life Is Beautiful is a film whose premise sounds like a complete oxymoron; a comedy about a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Guido, an Italian Jew, his five year old son and his wife Dora, are taken to a concentration camp. Rather than terrify his young son by admitting the truth, he spins a story of how they are playing a game, the winner of which will receive a real tank.

    Un Bel di Vedremo from Madama Butterfly – Puccini -- Fatal Attraction

    In the movie, Alex, the female stalker, is enthralled with the opera Madame Butterfly and several arias are included in the film. At one point she listens to it while attempting to commit suicide. How about that for Opera?

    La Mamma Morta from Andrea Chenier -- Philadelphia

    This was an incredible scene in the film.  It’s essentially the scene where Denzel Washington accepts Tom Hanks being homosexual.  It’s when he realizes that Hanks too is a human being and that even he himself can get emotional from music.  That even he can love another man without having to love him physically.  It’s truly powerful.

     
     
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