It’s National Wine Day and opera definitely has moments where drinking is essential to the story! To celebrate this fine liquor let’s take a look at some of the most interesting drinking songs in opera.
As Macbeth receives his guests for the evening, he calls upon his wife to make a toast. And this starts a dance-like melody filled with devilish coloratura runs that test the high range of any great lady. The brindisi is repeated twice and the second time around, the lady must force her way through it as she tries to distract guests against Macbeth’s visions.
Aside from the famous mad scene in Thomas’ “Hamlet,” this is probably the other famous aria in the work. During a banquet, Hamlet announces he has engaged a troupe of actors to perform a play and mime the play “The Murder of Gonzago.” Before the play, he sings a drinking song, playing the fool, so as not to arouse suspicion. It is a lyrical aria in the ABA French style audiences have come to expect from the great French composers.
It’s Easter and how could anyone refuse to celebrate a holiday. In Mascagni’s tragedy, Turiddu is in high spirits because he is with Lola and Santuzza appears to have left him. As a result, he invites his friends to his mother’s wine shop where he sings a drinking song, “Viva, il vino spumeggiante.” The joyful tune eventually turns sour when Alfio, Lola’s husband shows up and engages Turiddu for a duel. Still, it is a celebration of wine and a good drink!
When someone asks to go out for a drink, who can refuse. In a festive mood, Iago proposes a toast to Otello and his wife, while Cassio praises Desdemona. And Iago offers Cassio more wine, but Cassio says he has had enough. However, peer pressure gets the most of Cassio and he continues to drink as Iago pours more wine. Cassio eventually gets drunk and, well, the consequences are not quite as celebratory.
Escamillo walks into Lillas Pastias and throws off a toast in his honor. Who can ignore the excitement he generates in Bizet’s powerful and seductive lines. The aria is constantly enhanced by enthusiastic fans and by the end everyone is in rapture, singing in a massive ensemble of joy.
In just a brief minute or so, the Don sings about how he wants to throw a party, bring everyone’s defenses down and have his way with women. Unlike other drinking songs on this list, the title character does not necessarily drink to anyone else but his servant Leporello.
The most famous drinking song in opera is performed virtually everywhere. And unlike these other brindisis, this is one of seduction and celebration as Violetta and Alfredo have just met and instantly attracted to each other.
What are some other famous drinking songs in opera? Let us know in the comments below!