Home > Classical Music, Fun, humor, Music, Opera > Who Says Opera Can’t Be Fun?

Who Says Opera Can’t Be Fun?

I’m here to dispel a few notions that Opera is not fun. Opera is the mother of all modern day musicals and the grandmother of all music videos. Long before the movie moguls transported this art-form to celluloid film medium, Opera was the only form of musical theater in existence, and was so for several hundred years before movies. The concept of meshing music with visual imagery is not an invention of MTV. So sit back and take a look at the lighter side of an aria, one that isn’t afraid to poke a little bit of fun at itself, giving the audience a little wink and a nod.

The following clip is from the Opera “Les contes d’Hoffmann” composed by Jacques Offenbach and first performed in 1881 in Paris. Our protagonist Hoffman falls in love with Olympia, a mechanical doll. He isn’t initially aware that it is a mechanical doll, and its creator has convinced our Hoffman to wear a pair of rose-colored glasses to help with the illusion.

The aria that follows is Olympia’s debut to the public and to Hoffman who is really impressed and well, let’s say taken. She sings “Les oiseaux dans la charmille” (The birds in the bushes). As a mechanical doll however, Olympia is in need of an occasional “adjustment and winding” when she runs out of power. I’d say the following interpretation is quite er… um… interesting. Enjoy!

I’ve got to hand it to the French – they sure know how to have a bit of naughty fun at the Grand Opera.

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Categories: Classical Music, Fun, humor, Music, Opera
  1. April 19, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I was amazed that she could belt out that aria without busting out laughing doing what she was doing.

    🙂

  2. April 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Oh, and yeah…

    The last musical I’d seen was Les Miserables on PBS. I caught the tail end and I really liked Valjean’s death. Quite touching and cathartic. I hope my library has the musical because I’d like to see the whole thing.

    • April 20, 2011 at 12:46 am

      I was lucky enough to see Les Miserables on stage here in Washington D.C. I just finished reading Les Miserables last summer. My goal is to improve my French well enough to eventually be able to read it in the native language of Victor Hugo. Thanks for posting the link.

  3. April 20, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I’m so envious! That must have been wonderful.

    I have Les Miz on my to read list. I think perhaps it’s time to move it up to the top.

    I should see what musicals and operas the Windy City have to offer. I’m getting itchy to see one in real life.

    • April 20, 2011 at 11:16 am

      I had the opportunity to see “Carmen” at the Lyric Opera in Chicago this past March. It was my first time there, and I’d definitely recommend it if you have the opportunity to see an Opera there. Great singers and a very nice venue. I’ve seen Carmen a number of times, but I never tire of the experience. Sultry and sexy to say the least…

  4. April 20, 2011 at 9:21 am

    have = has

    Sorry. I woke up at 2 am and couldn’t get back to sleep until about 4 am. Been a long time since I had insomnia.

  5. May 1, 2011 at 12:47 am

    As they say, “Magnifique!”

    Phil, many thanks for sharing this. I enjoyed it so much I’ll share your post to my fb friends. 🙂

    • May 1, 2011 at 2:41 am

      Earthianne, I’m glad you enjoyed it. See? Opera doesn’t have to be stuffy. I’m having fun setting up a few clips, trying to give some folks a feel for this great form of art. And thanks for passing it along to your friends.

  6. March 17, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Hilarious! And bending that far over and hitting those notes- wow!!

    • March 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      I agree – the combination of singing and attention to acting and dancing about like an automaton cannot be easy. Natalie Dessay is a national treasure of France.

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