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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Five Femme Fatales of Opera

Delilah (Samson et Dalila, Saint-Säens) Shear Madness

This scissor-wielding Philistine seduces Samson, only to give him the most famous haircut in history. She gets hers in the end though, perishing in a temple collapse when a shorn, blinded Samson gets his strength back and brings down the house--literally.
Salome, by Aubrey Beardsley.

Salome (Salome, R. Strauss): The Girl Who Wanted It All

All she did was demand that Herod, her stepfather, give her the head of John the Baptist in exchange for doing the Dance of the Seven Veils . At the climax of Richard Strauss' shocking one-act opera, the princess sings a final, bloodthirsty ode to the now-severed head. Disgusted by her, Herod orders his guards to crush her to death beneath their shields in the opera's final, crashing bars.

Carmen (Carmen) She's not bad, she's just composed that way.

The cigarette-smoking Gypsy captured the heart of Don Jose in order to get out of a prison sentence for slashing another girl who worked in the cigarette factory. Unfortunately for Jose, he followed Carmen into the smuggling business, seethed with rage as she ditched him for a bullfighter in tight, glittery pants, and then finally killed her outside the bullring.

Kundry (Parsifal, Wagner) The Worst of Both Worlds

The only female character in Wagner's final opera leads a complicated double life. In between stints serving the Knights of the Grail as a messenger, she acts as the agent of the diabolical mage Klingsor, luring the Knights to their doom in a seductive flower garden of evil. It turns out that she's cursed--payback for laughing at Jesus Christ as he suffered on the cross.

Lulu (Lulu, Berg) Death on Two Legs

This bisexual vixen tears through Berg's second opera like a hot knife through gouda, destroying the lives of almost every other character she encounters in the course of her sexual adventures. She finally becomes a prostitute in London, and is murdered by her last client, who turns out to be Jack the Ripper.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats