Opera Meets Film: Opera Stars Who Have Been Featured In Recent Films

By Francisco Salazar

“Opera Meets Film” is a feature dedicated to exploring the way that opera has been employed in cinema. We will select a section or a film in its entirety, highlighting the impact that utilizing the operatic form or sections from an opera can alter our perception of a film that we are viewing. This week’s installment, given the fact that the holiday season is coming up, we have decided to do something a bit fun presenting some recent films that showcased some of opera’s greatest stars in scenes. 

Anna Netrebko – The Princess Diaries  2

In 2004, Anna Netrebko made a cameo in “The Princess Diaries 2” performing for the Queen’s guests. The soprano performed “Sempre Libera” from her second album, which had just been released, and Julie Andrews introduced her as a rising star in the opera world. Netrebko even got a line in the film. Here is the clip.

Leontina Vaduva – Child’s Pose

The Romanian diva had a small but prominent part in the Berlin Golden Bear winner as the lead character’s friend. Vaduva shows up as a party guest and in a master class as she teaches her students the first duet from “L’Elisir d’Amore.”

Joseph Calleja – The Immigrant 

Calleja had his big Hollywood moment as well when he portrayed Enrico Caruso in James Gray’s award-winning film “The Immigrant.” In the scene, which takes place on Ellis Island, he performs an aria from “La Rondine” and introduces Jeremy Renner’s character Orland the Magician.

Aida Garifullina – Florence Foster Jenkins 

Rising star Aida Garifullina also had a chance to shine when she performed the Bell Song from “Lakme.” Like Calleja, she portrayed a famous operatic icon by the name of Lily Pons. The scene below showcases the actual scene in the film about the worst opera singer in the history, but Paramount released a complete music video for Garifullina.

Gwyneth Jones – Quartet 

In “Quartet,” a movie about retired opera singers, Jones gets to shine as the diva. Jones portrays Anne Langley and she is the old grumpy singer who at the end of the movie gets to shine singing “Vissi d’Arte” from “Tosca.” Here you can hear her in an interview at the premiere of the film.

Sumi Jo – Youth 

Jo has been featured prominently in many films but here she actually got to be in the film and sing at the end of the movie in David Lang’s Oscar-nominated song “Simple Song No.3.” The clip below shows the performance in the movie.

Renée Fleming – The Adventures of Tintin 

Here is a fun one. Like Jo, Fleming has been featured in numerous soundtracks including the upcoming “The Shape of Water” and “The Lord of the Rings.” However, in Spielberg’s film, “The Adventure of Tintin” she got to do motion capture and portray Bianca Castafiore. In the film she sings “Je Veux Vivre” from “Roméo e Juliette” and there was even a top F added in digitally. Take a listen.

Placido Domingo – Mozart in the Jungle/The Book of Life/Beverly Hills Chihuahua/Moulin Rouge

Like Fleming and Jo, Domingo has also become a Hollywood icon showing up in numerous productions, his latest being in the Golden Globe-winning show “Mozart in the Jungle.” He also voiced the characters of skeleton Jorge in “The Book of Life” and Monte in “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” He also famously portrayed the Man in the Moon in the Oscar-winning film “Moulin Rouge.”  

Kate Lindsey, Anna Prohaska, Jonas Kaufmann, Barbara Hannigan, Miah Persson – “Casanova Variations”

The San Sebastian Film Festival selected film which told two stories about the greatest seducer of all time, Giacomo Casanova, which featured a plethora of singers including Jonas Kaufmann who portrayed Count Branicki. The film starred John Malkovich and Veronica Ferres.


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