Top 5 Operas That Bury the Hatchet

Thursday, August 07, 2014

'The Marriage of Figaro' gets a semi-staged production at the Mostly Mozart Festival 'The Marriage of Figaro' gets a semi-staged production at the Mostly Mozart Festival (Richard Termine)

For the past several weeks, opera fans have been hoping for a resolution between the Metropolitan Opera management and the several labor unions in their contract negotiations. To send some good karma to the bargaining table—neither a strike nor a lockout benefits anyone who truly loves this art form—we’ve collected the top 5 reconciliations in opera.

1. Though its title suggests otherwise, The Marriage of Figaro carries a rather cynical view of nuptial bliss, especially through the relationship of the philandering Count Almaviva and his disconsolate wife. At the culmination of the opera, the Countess finally catches her unfaithful husband chasing after her maid, Suzanna. When the Count asks for his wife’s forgiveness, the Countess takes the moral high ground and obliges him. “I am kinder than you,” she explains. Perhaps it’s more than coincidence that the Met will open its season with a new production of this repertory chestnut.

2. In the second act of Verdi’s La Traviata, the patriarch of the Germont family proves to be the least understanding of potential father-in-laws. Worried that his son, Alfredo, and his paramour, the former courtesan Violetta, will bring scorn upon his family, Germont asks Violetta to leave his son. Not knowing his father’s role in the breakup, Alfredo further insults her at a lavish party, throwing his gambling winnings at her feet to “repay his debts.” As Violetta lies dying of tuberculosis, both father and son visit her to make amends and ask her forgiveness in time for them to say their final goodbyes.

3. Richard Strauss’s one act opera Capriccio wages a debate between music and words. Each genre is personified by a suitor to the Countess Madeline: music is represented by composer Flamand, and words by poet Olivier. The two try to impress the Countess,—one through his lyrics and the other with melodies—but neither one wins. The opera ends with the Countess enigmatically walking off stage without determining which is most important: they’re equally vital.

4. At the opening of Gilbert and Sullivan’s one act operetta, Trial by Jury, the audience finds the young man Edwin, the defendant, being sued by his jilted former fiancée, Angelina, the plaintiff, for breaking his promise of marriage. After rather contentious testimony in which Edwin suggests a bigamous relationship as a potential solution, and tries to avoid paying damages since he doesn’t have the constitution of a good husband, the judge finds a conclusion suitable to all: he will marry Angelina instead of Edwin.

5. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as fairy dust, which helps resolve rifts between feuding humans in Benjamin Britten’s adaption of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. But good old compassion and understanding patches the relationship between the Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies. At the close of the opera, both the magical and human characters sit together to watch a performance of Pyramus and Thisbe. Even the mischievous Puck offers to “restore amends.”

What are your picks for the best operas that bury the hatchet? Post in the comments below.


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Comments [8]

Les from Miami, Florida

Robert is 100% correct. Rinucchio is a Donati and he's the one who sings Gianni Schicchi's praises in the first place in "Firenze 'e come un albero fiorito", "Florence is like a flowering tree." Gianni Schicchi impersonates Donati with "his voice" from the former's deathbed.

Aug. 10 2014 09:15 AM
Sher Huang

Norma. Pollione is unfaithful to Norma for virtually the entire opera...opting for the younger ( although not necessarily more attractive, Adalgisa). At the last minute, he falls in love with Norma all over again and walks into the pyre with her. The ultimate operatic reconciliation---into fire and love!

Aug. 09 2014 12:38 PM
Robert St.Onge from Cochiti Lake,NM

Rinuccio is one of Donati's relatives - so not all of the relatives are cheated.

Aug. 08 2014 01:30 PM
Les from Miami, Florida

In Mozart's "The Abduction from the Seraglio" Pasha Selim doesn't execute the son of his biggest enemy, Lostados, and so Belmonte, along with his love, Costanza, go free along with Blonde and Pedrillo. Regarding an earlier post, Gianni Schicchi doesn't bury anyone; he impersonates the late Buoso Donati whose will he falsifies so that his daughter, Lauretta, may marry Rinucchio on Mayday. All of Donati's relatives --- schemers all --- are thus cheated.

Aug. 08 2014 09:17 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau

I prefer operas where they bury hatchets in each other.

Aug. 08 2014 06:56 AM
Dennis from Carmel Valley CA

Gianni Schikki buried something

Aug. 08 2014 02:57 AM
Ruby22day from Mexico

Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito. Could anyone ever be so forgiving of a lover and a best friend who conspire to kill him?!

Aug. 07 2014 04:51 PM

Cenerentola - forgiveness and vocal fireworks all in one!

Aug. 07 2014 12:44 PM

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