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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.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Hunting of the Snark

"And now, on with the opera. Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor."--Otis B. Driftwood
Groucho Marx, Siegfried Ruman and Margaret Dumont in A Night at the Opera
© 1935 Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.
I just learned from my good friend James Jorden that the magazine Opera News has just named
Opera Chic its "Essential Opera Blog". We here at Superconductor would like to congratulate our comrade in Milan on her achievement.

The venerable magazine (published by the good folks at the Metropolitan Opera Guild) commented that the writing on Opera Chic is "like that of a dedicated and informed adolescent fan," and that the publication "goes against the current of snarky one-liners often found on opera blogs, writing from a vantage point of admiration, not disdain."

Snarky one-liners?


In the spirit of that award, here's a quick collection of snarky one-line synopses of operas. Just for the fun of it. Twenty-five of them, in alphabetical order. As a tip of the hat to my dear, departed father, I'll leave out No. 12. After all, it's the holidays, and there should be no "L."

Attila: No wonder he's out to sack Italy--the hungry Hun wants revenge for sticking him in those god-awful Prada costumes.

Bluebeard's Castle: Love, marriage and interior decorating issues predominate Béla Bartók's one-act drama. Now where will she put the couch?

La Cenerentola: Censors forced Rossini to remove the foot fetishism, but the work's still got "sole."

Daphne: "And early next summer, turned into a tree."

Ernani: Re-written for Broadway as Come Blow Your Horn.

La Forza del Destino: Say, is that thing loaded?

There once was a young man named Siggy.
He had a hot aunt, rather wiggy
She got him whacked out,
by a half-dwarven lout
And leapt in the fire: go figgy.

Les Huguenots: The Energizer bunny of French grand opera. It keeps going, and going....

I Pagliacci:
"What kind of clown are you?"
"The 'crying on the inside' kind, I guess."

Dick Johnson: Alias of the bandit hero of Puccini's La Fanciulla del West. And a heck of a "porn name."

Kát'a Kabanová: It would be pretty snarky to make a joke about a tormented heroine who throws herself into a river. After all, this isn't the Ring....

Macbeth: We're not really allowed to mention the name of this opera. We won't tell you that it's about a Scottish king who seeks to consolidate his hold on the throne. No. Not Andrew Carnegie.

Nabucco: More than just an opera, it's also an Italian biscotti company!

Otello: The story of a Moorish general, the murder of the woman he loved, and a white Ford Bronco....

Parsifal: There are a million Parsifal jokes. They all start with "So this idiot walks into a forest and whacks the swan...."

The Queen of Spades: And then Ghermann gets offed by casino employees, who find out he knows the secret of the three cards.

Das Rheingold: Richard Wagner's opera about a small Brooklyn-based brewery struggling to compete in 1960's New York.

Simon Boccanegra: Free glass of water to whoever figures out the political plot of this opera set in Renaissance Genoa. Take it from the pitcher on the left.

The Turn of the Screw: Like 'The Nanny' but without Fran Drescher.

Un Ballo in Maschera Sex and murder in Sweden. Sounds like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Valzacchi and Annina: Operators of a "black newspaper" in Der Rosenkavalier and onstage inspiration to all of us opera bloggers.

Wozzeck: The only opera to ever use the word "Oxyaldehydanhydride." In German, no less.

Xerxes: Tree-hugger.

Young Siegfried: He runs away from home, kills his stepfather, beats up grandpa and then seduces his aunt. Who said romance was dead?

Die Zauberflöte: Alright. I'll be yours forever. But first, take off that bird costume!

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