Megan Branch, Intern
Operas are always full of intrigue, suspense, drama, romance—and characters with really great names like Figaro, Egisto, and Gorislava. In Who Married Figaro? A Book of Opera Characters, Joyce Bourne, co-author of the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, has written over 2,500 entries about the people behind all of those funny-sounding names. Yesterday, we posted a quiz about some of opera’s figures. The answers are below. How did you do?
1. Concepción,from Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole, would invite her lovers over while Torquemada was out of the house and suggest that “they hide in large clocks and when he finds them she passes them off as customers.”
2. Erda, featured in the Wagner operas Das Rheingold and Siegfried, was the mother of three Norns and nine Valkyries. “She rises from the earth only when she sees impending disaster.”
3. The Golden Cockerel from Rimsky-Korsakov’s play of the same name was only a fair-weather friend of the Tsar: the Cockerel “later pecks him on the head and kills him.”
4. Noye, from Noye’s Fludde, was the father of Sem, Ham, and Jaffett. Noye was told by God to “build an ark in which all his family and animals ride out the storm.” Noye’s Fludde also incorporates hymns sung by the audience.
5. Prunier “reads Magda’s hand and tells her that she may, like the swallow (la rondine) find a bright future, but there is also tragedy in store. Prunier is secretly in love with Magda’s maid Lisette.
6. Sportin’ Life sold dope to Bess “and, under its influence, she leaves for New York while Porgy is being questioned by the police.”
7. Tito Vespasiano,from La Clemenza di Tito, was “anxious that his people see him not as a dictator but as a clement ruler.”
8. Zoroastro “resolves the complications of the relationships between Orlando and his former love Angelica.”
9. Spalanzani invented the doll, Olympia, with whom Hoffmann later fell in love.
10. Nick Shadow from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress took Tom Rakewell away from his fiancé, Anne, and led him “to a life of debauchery. When all Tom’s money is gone, they play cards” for Tom’s soul. Tom wins and “in anger Shadow condemns him to a life of insanity.”