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What Happened To Opera?

When you weren’t looking…we changed some things. posted on

1. So when you think of opera you think of this…right?

Not bad.

2. Perhaps you think of this guy…it’s cool. We all do.

He was the king. No qualms here.

3. You might even go here. Let’s face it, Bugs got it going ON.

4. Here’s where we might get you. The closest thing to opera that still exists today from the list above…is Bugs. Well, at least, kind of. See, much like Pop Culture, the opera world has become aesthetically oriented. Follow me:

5. This is what the reigning queen of opera looks like. Renee Fleming.

Not what you were expecting, eh? She can sing whatever she wants, wherever she wants, whenever she wants. And she’s fantastic.

Strauss’ Zueignung. Listen to how long they clap for her. Europe, man. Europe.

7. If NayNay above is the queen, then Anya here is the princess. Anna Netrebko, soprano.

She’s a rockstar.

Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiß - Franz Lehar. She’s clearly a good time at a party.

9. The lady who sings higher notes than that last high note? Diana Damrau.

Coloratura. So high. So fast. (Usually, everyone’s favorite…just sayin’.)

Der Hölle Rache - Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Crazy costumes. Insane singing. Live. No autotune. She really sings that high. Mariah Carey, sit down.

11. The woman up top in the helmet with the shield? That’s a poke at Wagner operas. Leading that front? Nina Stemme.

She’s baller.

Mild und Leise - Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.

13. The ladies above are sopranos. Here’s the current Queen Bee lyric mezzo, Joyce DiDonato.

Lyric mezzos are a lighter version of a more powerful mezzo…more on that later…dun dun DUN. She sings real high and real fast, but has great low and middle notes.

Fra il padre - Rossini’s La Donna del Lago

15. A warmer sounding mezzo, Latvian superstar Elina Garanca.

What a beauty, no? You should hear her sing.

Habanera - From Bizet’s Carmen. You know this one.

17. But what about the dudes? Jonas Kaufmann, THE tenor.

Ladies? Gays? Thinking about getting your Met subscription yet?

E lucevan le stelle - Puccini’s Tosca.

19. You want high notes and wicked fast singing? Juan Diego Florez.

No, seriously. He sings really high and insanely fast.

Si ritrovarla io giuro - Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella).

21. Let’s take it down an octave or so, eh? Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone.

He is one of the most famous people in Russia. Seriously. He gets mobbed in the streets.

Votre toast/Toreador’s Song - Bizet’s Carmen…again. But what can I say? Kid writes a catchy tune.

23. Going even lower…here’s Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, bass-baritone. Talk about a name.

Finch’ han del vino - Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

25. How low can you go? Erwin Schrott, bass.

Fun fact! He’s married to Anna Netrebko, the fun lass up top. Second fun fact! He’s on the Met roster as a bass. He sings some BB rep as well, but for completion of this post’s sake, he’s a bass.

Madamina - Mozart’s Don Giovanni. He’s listing off everyone the Don has slept with…at Placido Domingo’s 70th birthday party. Placido was a well-known ladies man. This is genius.

27. Just look how cool productions are these days. THIS IS WHAT OPERA LOOKS LIKE.

New York City Opera’s production of Rossini’s Mose in Egitto.

28. And these are just the famous ones! There’s a whole army of would-be models coming up behind them!


…but what happened to all of the more voluptuous singers? Oh, they’re still here, facing more scrutiny everyday for their looks, instead of focusing on the magnificent sounds coming out their mouths. But they’re not going anywhere. And boy, do singers LOVE them. They produce sounds that other beings aren’t capable of creating. It’s like magic. Every. Freakin’. Time. There are some things that just can’t be done without a sturdy singer.

29. Dolora Zajick. Do. Not. Mess. With. Dolora Zajick.

She is a beast of a singer.

O don fatale - Verdi’s Don Carlo. You would need to stand back 50 feet to listen to this comfortably. Her sound punches you in the face. Seriously. Saw her sing a Cavalleria Rusticana once, walked out with a bloody nose and chipped incisor.

This is to what I was referring earlier up on Joyce DiDonato’s picture. There are lyric mezzos, like Joyce; what you’d call a standard mezzo, like Elina; then you have the dramatic mezzos, like Dolora here. PUNCH YO FACE.

31. Liudmyla Monastyrska. Soprano…in (kind of) black face. It’s an Aida thing.

O patria mia - Verdi’s Aida.

32. Ben Heppner, dramatic tenor. His squillo is straight thug.

In fernem Land - Wagner’s Lohengrin

33. Jamie Barton, mezzo. THAT HIGH C.

O mon Fernand - Donizetti’s La Favorite. Later on in the program, she sings louder than an entire chorus, an orchestra and six…SIX other soloists.

34. To wrap this up…


Opera got a face lift. Is it good? Is it discouraging? Your call.
One thing I do know, though, is that you should call one of the regional places now and GET YOUR ASS TO THE OPERA. RUN.

Metropolitan Opera Ticket Office - 212-362-6000
New York City Opera - 212-870-5600
Lyric Opera of Chicago - 312-332-2244
San Francisco Opera - 415-864-3330
Houston Grand Opera - 713-228-6737

…or just Google a local opera house.

See you there!

35. I almost forgot! This is Katherine Jenkins. Some of you will try to bring her up…

However, your point is moot, she is not an opera singer. Has never been in an opera, will never be in an opera. So don’t. It will get real ugly real quick up in here. Stop.

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