But who are the cartoon pants roles (and skirt roles) of more recent years? And how does a casting choice affect how we react to a character? We tracked down four of our favourite 21st-century cartoon characters, who all take a cue from opera's tradition.
Does the initial cougher do so because they really were holding it in for the last little bit? Or is it a release of tension, brought on by impressive music and then a sudden, maybe uncomfortable, silence?
Well, how about the opera version of the Wikipedia Game*? The premise is simple: go to the Wikipedia home page, and on the left hand side, click on "random article." Starting from this random page, the goal is to get to the Wiki article on "Opera" in as few clicks as possible, using only the hyperlinked words within each page along the way.
A little bit Stephen Colbert-esque, Nick chats with greats like conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Emmanuel Ax (or, Yo-Yo Ma's accompanist) about their work. We can't quite tell if the interviewees knew what they were getting into with Nick, but we like it.
But in competition, singers are judged on the big picture that comes out of countless achievements in vocal technique, foreign language skills, dramatic training and general charisma (can that be taught?). So, what if, like the Olympics, competitions were broken down into these smaller parts? Like gymnasts or track-and-field stars?
Equal in hilarity to the image of a monotone group of Catholics speeding through holy texts out of sheer rote/boredom are all the "patter songs" that steal the show in opera and music theatre. Here are some of our favourites:
Judge if you must, but the whole image of a naked cellist playing a wedding gig had us thinking about the realities of nude music-making. Upon further consideration, the idea may be better in fantasy than in reality.
We laughed out loud at Cassie Kutev's YouTube video, where she "interviews" select members of a choir, from Soprano I to Bass II. Our favourite quotable quote from the "Tap...water? I want sparkling. I'm a diva. We sparkle."
Honestly, can't you just picture her practicing this at home? Our bet is that many of you are now off to test your gargle-singing skills.
Trump would be a buffo bass role, clearly. Blustering, bumbling and woofy, his lines would be meaningless patter in the style of Rossini. His lines would overlap those of all other characters', interrupting in that charming way, and rambling on long after anything of possible meaning had been said.