Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Operamaniac: Silly Season

Tue Sep 2 2014

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"One thing that is always surprising to me is how beautifully the softest sounds carry." @houghhough talks preparat… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…


The weather has turned. No more bikinis, martinis or sunburn. Summer is over. And with it goes Silly Season, the time of year when it all gets a bit too much and suddenly anything is news.

Opera, you may or may not be surprised to know, can be silly as real life. Here are what I think are the most ridiculous operas of all time…

Don Pasquale

This is a favourite of mine. A rich old man wants to get married with a pretty young lady who has just left the convent. Excited by this angelical ideal of purity and innocence, he blindly puts a ring on her finger. What comes next… well that is a surprise. A proof that Donizetti is not only a master of Opera Seria but a cheeky chap, not afraid of being a bit risqué.

Le Comte D’Ory

Rossini’s Le Comte D’Ory really is the last word in debauchery. All men in a town have left to war, leaving all women alone. Take this and add men disguised as drunken nuns and a threesome. Yes, you did read that right (and you thought that opera-goers only enjoyed boring deaths on stage!).

Gianni Schicchi

Puccini’s comic opera is famous for the aria “O mio babbino caro” which means “oh my dear daddy” and not “oh my dear child” as many people tend to think (you see, Babbino and bambino are almost identical but have seriously different meanings!).

A very rich man lies dead in his bed. All his relatives are around him, but only interested in knowing which part of the fortune they’ll inherit. The old man’s will, however, says that all his money is to be given to a monastery. Well, the rest of the plot unfolds in a manner similar to Weekend at Bernie’s. Pretending that Donati is not dead, the family forge a new will. And, well, you can see where this is going…

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