Film and Television

Spotlight: A Semi-Definitive Listing of Opera in Pop Culture

This week, my cyber-friend Cindy of Opera Bracelets shared a link on Facebook about the artistic director of a New York county philharmonic and his comparison of La traviata to the movie Pretty Woman. Upon spotting the link, I vehemently agreed with Cindy that this guy couldn’t have been more off-base. Nonetheless, it did get me thinking about operas that have been re-imagined for the modern audience- whether through film, theatre, or some other medium entirely! Friends, I present to you a lofty undertaking: making a list of as many operatic references in pop culture as we can. Be sure to comment with ones that aren’t already listed! You will be credited for your contribution!

  1. Pretty much every aria in La boheme (Puccini)…Moonstruck
  2. Pretty much the entire premise of La bohemeJonathan Larson’s RENT
  3. “Largo al Factotum” from Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini)…Mrs. Doubtfire
  4. The entire score, but NOT the libretto, of Carmen (Bizet)…Carmen Jones
  5. A performance of La traviata (Verdi)…Pretty Woman
  6. A cartoon spoof of Il Barbiere di SivigliaThe Rabbit of Seville
  7. The life of Maria Callas…Master Class
  8. The plot of Aida (Verdi) reset to pop music…Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA
  9. A retelling of Madama Butterfly (Puccini)…Miss Saigon
  10. “La donna e mobile” (Verdi) and “O mio babbino caro” (Puccini)…Too many TV commercials to name
  11. A performance of Lakme (Delibes)…The L Word
  12. A performance of Die Zauberflote (Mozart)…Amadeus
  13. Carmen extravaganza…PBS Arthur episode (Lights! Camera! Opera!)
  14. Cindy: “Habanera” from CarmenDisney/Pixar’s Up
  15. Cindy: Reference to the score of CarmenThe Bad News Bears
  16. Cindy: The “Barcarolle” from The Tales of Hoffman (Offenbach)…Life is Beautiful
  17. Cindy: Various references…What’s Opera, Doc? and Long Haired Hare
  18. Cindy: Die Fledermaus (Strauss) overture…Tom and Jerry
  19. Cindy: William Tell overture (Rossini)…The Lone Ranger
  20. Susan: “Doretta’s Aria” from La rondine (Puccini)…A Room with a View
  21. Lala: “Regnava nel silenzio” from Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)…Beetlejuice
  22. Mary: “Nessun dorma” from Turandot (Puccini)…The Witches of EastwickThe Mirror Has Two Faces, etc.
  23. Cindy: “Nessun dorma” from TurandotBend It Like Beckham
  24. Cindy: La boheme Act 1 duet…Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  25. Cindy: “Letter Duet” from Il Nozze di Figaro (Mozart)…The Shawshank Redemption
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3 thoughts on “Spotlight: A Semi-Definitive Listing of Opera in Pop Culture”

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