Which Stories Could Make Opera More Mainstream?

Most people tend to have fairly firm stances on opera: they either love it or they just don’t relate to it. In part, this is because the style of music and performance can be an acquired taste. But it may also be because operas don’t tend to revolve around well-known tales. Ordinary musicals tend to be a little more recognizable. They might be based on anything from classic literature (think “Les Miserables”) to animated Disney projects (like “The Lion King”). That makes them more accessible to the mainstream public.

The clear bridge between the two types of performance is “The Phantom Of The Opera.” Naturally, the title invokes the opera, but the actual performance tends to straddle a line between musical and opera. There are undoubtedly operatic numbers and tendencies at times, but it’s hard to classify it as anything other than a traditional musical. Still, “The Phantom Of The Opera” has become a very famous tale indeed, based on a novel and known on both stage and screen for decades. And that begs the question of what other famous tales, perhaps of a similar ilk, could be arranged into operas that might appeal to the masses?

There are no real answers, of course, and all of the following ideas are unlikely. But they’re interesting to think about if you’re intrigued by the idea of a more widely popular brand of opera.

“Game Of Thrones”

It certainly seems that “Game Of Thrones” can do no wrong. It’s a popular book series, one of the biggest shows on television, and the subject of seemingly half the buzz on the internet. There are also some elements of it that fit with many people’s image of the opera with subjects like kings and queens, northern atmospheres and extravagant costumes. There’s no word at this stage of “Game Of Thrones” actually being turned into an opera (though it’s been jokingly referred to as the most expensive soap opera on television), but we have heard an interesting cover of the opening theme music in opera form, and it’s actually terrific. This could be a big and wonderful idea.

“Jekyll & Hyde”

This is another sort of old world tale that, in terms of costuming and general atmosphere, can have a presentation not unlike “The Phantom Of The Opera.” It’s already a successful musical and already seems to be making something of a pop culture comeback. Slotsource features an online arcade game based on the story among a selection of similar titles from Playtech. And in addition to in this game, we’ve also seen Dr. Jekyll resurface on the big screen, played by Russell Crowe in the film “The Mummy.” None of these are indications of a coming opera by any stretch, but if “Jekyll & Hyde” can thrive as a musical, an online slot reel, and a basis for fantasy characters, it could also be a popular draw as an opera.

“The BFG”

We’ll close things out with a particularly fun one. This was actually suggested at Schmopera in an article on five books that should become operas, and while it would definitely be unconventional it could also be the best way to get children interested in the performance style. For those who may be unfamiliar, this is s children’s book written by the great Roald Dahl, and tells the story of a young girl abducted and protected by a friendly giant (among a clan of far nastier and larger giants). The idea of booming bass performers taking on the personae of giants is delightful and could make for a very entertaining opera.

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