Jane Austen and opera

Jane Austen!

Now that I have your attention, let’s talk opera. I woke up in the middle of the night, asking myself whether anyone had written an opera based on one of Jane Austen’s books. Because I hadn’t heard of any while researching the opera world, I comforted myself that a Jane Austen opera was virgin territory and went back to sleep. Once I had my morning coffee in me and the fog of sleep lifted, I Googled Jane Austen opera…and guess what?

You guessed it.

Of course, there have been operas written about Jane Austen books, Pride and Prejudice mostly. A few years ago, a contemporary composer presented the first act of his opera Pride and Prejudice at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Without much clicking, I found a chamber opera in Australia based on Pride and Prejudice. (In the  musical world, chamber always implies small and intimate. This opera had two characters in it.)

What started out as a bald-faced attempt to drive Internet traffic to my blog turned out to be  a legitimate post on Jane Austen and opera.

Of course, Mark Twain loathed both Jane Austen (he detested her characters without reserve) and opera (he’d prefer to be skinned–alive–presumably).

Maybe opera and Jane Austen have more in common than I ever imagined.


Filed under 21st Century Opera, Terminology

4 Responses to Jane Austen and opera

  1. Hi Gale! I didn’t know you were blogging. 🙂

    A fascinating post! I’d like to see Pride and Prejudice sung opera. Is there such a thing as British opera? I thought it was all Italian?

    As a child I detested opera, but lately I’ve begun to think it beautiful.

    Have fun with this. 🙂


    from the desk of a writer

    • Gale

      Hi, Corra! Most classic operas are sung in Italian, German, or French. When we watch them today, very often we hear them sung in beautiful languages that are not our own but are treated to the story in supertitles often shown on top of the stage. Some operas have been translated into English. Actually, Verdi wrote an opera about Shakespeare’s Falstaff in Italian. And, of course, the characters in Don Giovanni are all Spanish, and yet it’s sung in Italian. The supertitles today are so unobstrusive these days, they allow performers to sing the operas in the original languages they were written, and they are all the more beautiful for that. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Gale

    Hi, Dody. Thanks for stopping in. Emma seems to be wildly popular and successful for all sorts of adaptations. I did not listen to Regiment Saturday. I can’t say I’m a regular listener of those broadcasts. I do like the high-def transmissions at the local movie house though. I don’t know Donzetti’s music well. Are you fond of his work? Stop back sometime soon!

  3. Gale – this is a mystery – isn’t it? I live near NCSA – I would love to see it or hear the music. P&P is the obvious choice, but I think Emma would be a great choice as well. Your book sounds hysterical – as an opera lover, I can hardly wait to read it! Did you listen to Daughter of the Regiment the other day?