5 ways to make watching an opera at home even more fun

5 ways to make watching an opera at home even more fun

Jenna Simeonov
We won’t come right out and say this is an opera drinking game, but we have devised a little way to make watching opera (in the comfort of your home, without distracting other ticket buyers, please!) a more social, even competitive, activity. Our points system can be worth whatever currency you so desire; but we’re not opposed to a point equalling hearty gulps of your preferred beverage…


So, the simple version of this game would be one point for every time a singer “hooks” into a note (meaning they start the pitch from below, like this). The more interesting version of the game would require pretty great ears: one point for every semitone below the actual pitch that the hook spans. Usually it’s only one semitone, but with tenors and RenĂ©e Fleming, you can usually count on more.

Opera claws

The two most common forms of opera claws are the tenor claw and the baritone claw. The tenor claw is usually palm up, with the fingers haphazardly arranged so it can often look like a “tenor point”. The baritone claw is usually palm down, and it shares the tenor claw’s tendencies towards pointing; instead of the tenor point, which suggests a bit of “come hither”, the baritone claw/point is usually a more villainous pose, like he’s about to cast a spell on whoever he’s singing at.

Anyway, you could start out with one point for every claw you see, baritone, tenor, or otherwise; it could get interesting if you assign a point for every second that the claw is held in the air.

Opera couple pose

The opera couple pose has a few variants, including (but not limited to) any of the following: lady in front of man, man’s arms around lady, both facing out and singing about love; man and lady embracing, turned obliquely to the audience, her head somewhere between his pectoral muscle and his clavicle, depending on the height difference; man and lady facing each other, and one or both of them have their hands on the others’ face, slyly covering their partners’ ears to save them from the point-blank singing.

Great love duets like the ones from Madama Butterfly or Otello give players the opportunity for more than one of these poses, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing the opera for the game.

Opera laughs

The soprano shriek, the mezzo chest-tacular chuckle, the tenor roar, the bass guffaw, you recognize them all. They all have plenty of supported sound to them, so as not to knock anything out of whack for any singing they have to do post-laugh. It could be considered cheating to play with Die Fledermaus, but it could also be strategy.

One point per laugh, or if you’re feeling adventurous, one point per “hah!”

Bel canto tacets

At the end of most bel canto arias that have a final fast section, there’s usually a last-ditch wind-up-the-audience section where the orchestra gets loud and exciting, and the audience leans in to hear the singer’s final super high note. Whether or not you’re a fan of the practice, it’s common for singers to bow out of a few of these filler bars, and gather their strength for the big high note.

This game may require having a score handy, depending on how well the players know the music. The terms could be, one point for every bar that the singer doesn’t sing; one point per beat, if you’re feeling cocky.

Consume your opera responsibly, readers! And leave your ideas in the comments below.

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