6 TV shows that should be operas

6 TV shows that should be operas

Jenna Simeonov
If you’re an opera dork like me, you often see operatic potential wherever you go. Today’s it’s in TV. The Breaking Bad opera has already had its premiere, and it even includes the “Bitch Aria”, sung by none other than Jesse Pinkman. Have a listen here. And really, to make a great opera, one would just need all the same dramatic elements that one needs for great books, and for great TV. Here we go, spoilers and all:

1. House of Cards

Oooh, so good. Acting President of the United States Frank Underwood is a terrifying Verdi-baritone, keeping the audience on his side partly with the use of his charming Southern drawl. Frank’s wife, Claire, would be a rich contralto pulling the serene wife card when she needed to, and unleashing Clytemnestra-type power when it’s more appropriate. The music would be an eerie mix of Nixon in China and The Rape of Lucretia. Maybe a bit of Lulu-reminiscence in Claire’s music. And of course, a grumbling, wise bass would sing the role of Freddy Hayes, the guy with the great rib joint.

2. The Walking Dead

Oh, it could be so great. Rick would be a Don José-type of tenor, with lots of meaningful, soaring lines to sing, which carrying an ever-growing load of inner Sturm und Drang. Maybe a zombie leitmotif: something with lots of sagging trombones mixed with string harmonics. Super eery, totally unmistakable, very Philip Glass-meets-Penderecki. You could have zombie chorus members coming through the audience, shuffling painfully down the aisles. Or even have a few planted supers in the audience that turn into walkers somewhere during Act 2. Nightmares for weeks.

3. Mad Men

How amazing would Don Draper be as an opera hero? A cocky high baritone, singing apathetically between puffs of his cigarette. Roger Sterling would be a snarling bass-baritone, always the bad influence, and unpacking some extra layers of humanity near the end of Act 3 after a particularly depressing night of drinking. Oh, and the women would be so good. Think of all the types of secretly strong women in that cast. You could get sopranos Betty Draper and Peggy Olson with lush mezzo Joan Harris singing gorgeous trios about being mistreated by men. Mad, mad men. Very Peter Grimes, if he were American.

4. Orange is the New Black

Now this would be like Dialogues des Carmélites, just without the big political cause and less obedience. I picture Red like a Grand Prioress, played by basically Judith Forst. Vee could be an evil twist on Madame Lidoine. Piper would of course be a soubrette, with her mezzo ex-girlfriend, Alex. Plenty of pep-talk arias for big-haired Nicky and Bible-thumping from born-ahead-meth-head Tiffany. Oh, and Uzo Aduba could come and reprise the operatic version of Crazy Eyes, because she’s a real singer!

5. The Big Bang Theory

We could be looking at a new source for stock characters here. All the kinds of nerds. Sheldon would be a Peter Pears-type tenor, like Albert Herring but self-content. He and his baritone buddies Raj and Howard, and Rossini-tenor Leonard, could make up the new _La bohème _foursome of the 21st-century. Penny is of course a soubrette-ish soprano (very Despina), and Amy is a hopeless mezzo. Also, who better to cast as today’s bubbliest coloratura soprano than blonde, buxom Bernadette?

6. Game of Thrones

The Games of Thrones opera would no doubt be a stage manager’s absolute nightmare. Think of all the people to manage, the fight rehearsals, the animals onstage, the snow cues. You’d really need a rotating stage. The bows would take forever. But also, think of a Medieval Ring Cycle, with a leitmotif for all seven kingdoms, including dragon music. There could be virile tenors singing Jon Snow, and Daenerys could be a dramatic coloratura with shrieks that could break glass. You know, because she’s the mother of dragons. Tyrion would obviously be a booming bass, and Arya could become the next coveted sometimes-pants-role. You could actually cast a countertenor to sing the eunuch, but it would be much better suited to Joffrey.

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below!

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