Tag Archives: Academy Awards

Sunday Best — Oscar loves opera!

*This post was great fun to share on the day of the Academy Awards, and is applicable today. Hence, an Operatoonity Encore Post.

Psssst. Wanna know a secret? Oscar’s in love with opera. Operatic music is widely and well used in many excellent films: The Godfather, Life of David Gale, Fantasia, Black Hawk Down, and the list goes on and on.

Here are some of the Oscar-winning movies I’ve seen (and some of my favorite also-rans) with the classical music they incorporated into their soundtracks. Maybe that’s why Oscar adores opera.

1997: Life Is Beautiful – Best Actor (Robert Benigni) – “Barcarolle” from Les Contes d’HoffmannOffenbach (This is one of my all-time favorite movies, so it gets the first YouTube clip.

YouTube Preview Image

1993: PhiladelphiaBest Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks), and Best Music, Song (Bruce Springsteen for “Streets of Philadelphia“) – “La Mamma Morta” from Andrea Chénier – Giordano

1987: Moonstruck – Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress (Cher), and Best Supporting Actress – La Bohème – Puccini

1987: The Untouchables – Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Sean Connery, always have to give a nod to Sean Connery, wherever and however possible) – “Vesti la giubba” from Paliacci – Leoncavallo; also featured in a Seinfeld episode.

1987:  Wall Street – Best Actor (Michael Douglas) – “Questa O Quella” from Rigoletto – Verdi

1984 Amadeus – Eight Oscars, most notably Best Picture,  Best Actor in a Leading Role (F. Murray Abraham), Best Director (Miloš Forman), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Peter Shaffer) –  Don Giovanni  and “Sull’ Aria” from The Marriage of Figaro – by whom else by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

1980 Raging Bull – Best Actor (De Niro) and Best Editing (Schoonmaker) – “Cavalleria rusticana” – Mascagni

1979 Apocalypse Now – Best Cinematography and Best Sound – “Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walkure – Wagner

Three of my favorite also nominated-but-didn’t-win movies with opera. (Hey! It’s my blog!)

1994: The Shawshank Redemption – “Sull’ Aria” from The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart. Here is the scene where Andy plays the aria for inmates (It is one of my favorite scenes ever–thank you, Mozart):

YouTube Preview Image

1987: Fatal Attraction – “Un Bel di Vedremo” from Madama Butterfly  – Puccini

1990: Pretty Woman – Best Actress (Julia Roberts) La Traviata – Verdi

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Filed under Classic Opera, Classical Composers, Don Giovanni, Mozart, Sunday Best

“best of” countdown #4 – Oscar loves opera

(first published March 3, 2010)

Psssst!

Wanna know a secret? Oscar’s in love with opera. Operatic music is widely and well used in many excellent films: The Godfather, Life of David Gale, Fantasia, Black Hawk Down, and the list goes on and on.

Here are some of the Oscar-winning movies I’ve seen (and some of my favorite also-rans) with the classical music they incorporated into their soundtracks. Maybe that’s why Oscar adores opera.

1997: Life Is Beautiful – Best Actor (Robert Benigni) – “Barcarolle” from Les Contes d’HoffmannOffenbach (This is one of my all-time favorite movies, so it gets the YouTube clip.)

1993: PhiladelphiaBest Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks), and Best Music, Song (Bruce Springsteen for “Streets of Philadelphia“) – “La Mamma Morta” from Andrea Chénier – Giordano

1987: Moonstruck – Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress (Cher), and Best Supporting Actress – La Bohème – Puccini

1987: The Untouchables – Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Sean Connery, always have to give a nod to Sean Connery, wherever and however possible) – “Vesti la giubba” from Paliacci – Leoncavallo; also featured in a Seinfeld episode.

1987:  Wall Street – Best Actor (Michael Douglas) – “Questa O Quella” from Rigoletto – Verdi

1984 Amadeus – Eight Oscars, most notably Best Picture,  Best Actor in a Leading Role (F. Murray Abraham), Best Director (Miloš Forman), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Peter Shaffer) –  Don Giovanni  and “Sull’ Aria” from The Marriage of Figaro – by whom else by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

1980 Raging Bull – Best Actor (De Niro) and Best Editing (Schoonmaker) – “Cavalleria rusticana” – Mascagni

1979 Apocalypse Now – Best Cinematography and Best Sound – “Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walkure – Wagner

Three of my favorite also nominated-but-didn’t-win movies with opera. (Hey! It’s my blog!) 

1994: The Shawshank Redemption – “Sull’ Aria” from The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart

1987: Fatal Attraction – “Un Bel di Vedremo” from Madama Butterfly  – Puccini

1990: Pretty Woman – Best Actress (Julia Roberts) La Traviata – Verdi

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Filed under Best of Operatoonity, Classic Opera, Classical Music, Sunday Best

why La Boheme? Indeed . . .

Loretta and Ronny at La Boheme

A friend of mine saw Moonstruck for the first time this weekend on my recommendation. Don’t you just love when your friends watch movies you love, and they end up loving them, too?

Anyhoo, I had Moonstruck on the brain since the Academy Awards–I’d included it in blog post about my favorite Oscar-winning movies with opera as a backdrop or subplot. As my friend and I discussed Moonstruck today, re-enacting our favorite scenes (of course, these included the “Snap-out-of-it!” scene), she asked, “Why La Bohème?” meaning, why did the screenwriter have Ronny (Nicolas Cage) take Loretta (Cher) to see La Bohème at the Met–where one could see almost any opera one wished.

I’m not sure what the screenwriter, John Patrick Shanley, would have said in response to this question other than “Puccini never feels dated,” which he once remarked in an interview. But now that I’ve been a formal student of opera for almost nine months (yes, one could liken it to a pregnancy, with this blog being the bouncing baby with 1o fingers and ten toes and an Apgar Score of 9), but, oddly, I feel comfortable making an educated guess.

La Bohème is one of the most performed operas in the United States. The music and the story are by many accounts accessible to those who rarely or have never been to the opera. In fact, one site I know of spells out exactly why La Bohème is the perfect opera for inexperienced operagoers to cut their teeth on.

Besides being a popular classic opera, La Bohème is also a classic tear-jerker. Though I’ll stop short of calling Puccini the Nicholas Sparks of the opera world because I don’t want to receive a spate of nast-e-grams, one leaves La Bohème with the same aftertaste of pathos as having read or watched Sparks’ A Walk to Remember. It has deep appeal to the hopeless romantics among us who love having a good cry now and then, and just like A Walk to Remember, it has lots of emotional hooks to latch on to, including the untimely death of a young woman from a tragic illness who leaves behind a man who not only loves her beyond reason but may never love again.

Not only is the storyline of La Bohème accessible, but the music is beautiful–without equivocation. No one can argue that Puccini didn’t write and orchestrate gorgeous melodies. The music possesses inexplicable power to move the soul–to make you weep like a bambino.

So, back to the question at hand: Why La Bohème? If you were Ronny Cammareri, Nicolas Cage’s character, and really wanted and needed to take a woman to your bed, you’d be guaranteed a roll in the hay if you took her to La Bohème–maybe even more than one roll, depending on your potency. She’d automatically peg you as a sensitive guy who liked playing Scrabble and shopping at the Pottery Barn, or who’d move all your chick flicks to the top of your shared Netflix queue–even ahead of The Hurt Locker–just because your happiness is paramount.

Why La Bohème, indeed.

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Filed under Classic Opera