Bizet’s Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera. You can’t get much more opera than that. At the same time, you can’t get much more rock/pop/opera than that either. Take the “Toreador Song,” or any of those gypsy dance numbers, “Habanera” or “Danse Boheme” (a.k.a. “Les tringles des sistres tintaient”). Catchy as anything and I have to say it – they rock. When Carmen premiered back in 1875, those pieces – and the opera itself – did not go over well with the conservative critics of the day. Such depravity! Even so – no, wait, because of that – an early performance of Carmen must have been quite the show to see!
A hundred years later, in late 1975, a 6-minute single by the group Queen climbed to the top of the charts in their native England and several other European countries. Even here, in the fairly-boring-music-on-the-radio U. S. of A., it reached number 9. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was indeed music to my schizomusical ears the first few times I heard it. Of course it quickly became played out, then resurrected and played out again in 1992 when it was featured in Wayne’s World. But 41 years ago, what a song! Song? What the hell is it, an opera? “Mini-rock-opera” I think was the term coined.
So we don’t need to hear it again right now…but we do need to hear the below opera-inspired creations! All dating from around the same time period as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The mid-to-late ’70s (and early ’80s) – when Rock Highway crisscrossed Opera Boulevard for a time, and produced some pretty spectacular crashes.
images courtesy aveclassics.net, fishki.net, en.wikipedia.org, theirrationallyexuberant.com
videos courtesy Sony Music Entertainment, SholingBr, chris d, NEA ZIXNH, Hans Wurst/NBC’s Midnight Special