Friday, September 24, 2010

Opera in Slow Motion

Dear AriaGirl:
Why do opera characters take so long to die? Nobody sings right after they’ve been stabbed, right?
Jack R.

Dear Jack:

I get this question a lot, and the truth is that a lot of operas write beautiful arias for the main character to sing after they’ve been stabbed (or shot, or poisoned, or whatever). This is the singer’s moment to shine – to show off not only their amazing voice, but to show the audience all the emotion the character is feeling. Think of a scene in a movie that’s in slow-motion. It’s kind of like that. So enjoy that final aria – let the emotions wash over you. That’s what opera’s all about.

Plus, there are several operas where this isn’t the case. When the titular leading lady of Carmen dies, for example, there is no final aria. Likewise, when Tosca stabs Scarpia, he collapses and dies with just a scream.

Got a question about opera? Send it in to

Ciao for now!

Photo credit: Matthew Staver / Opera Colorado.

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