That great scene in...

That great scene in...

Jenna Simeonov

I’m on the House of Cards train, because I’m always rooting for the underdog. Kevin Spacey’s the underdog, right? Anyway, I watched this brilliant scene play out in one of the episodes; it was one of those incredible scenes where both parties have clear objectives, but one party’s objective is to screw the other party over. I don’t know what it says about me that I love scenes like this, but it’s what makes me love Quentin Tarantino. Christoph Waltz, anyone?

Anyway, it made me think of the infamous La traviata scene with Violetta and Germont. Violetta’s objective during that scene is to get Germont’s approval, and Germont’s is to get Violetta to leave his son. These two objectives are not equal, and by definition, Violetta has lost right out of the gate. This doesn’t sound like an interesting scene, right? But it is, because we spend the scene watching the painfully irrelevant details: Violetta’s insistence on maintaining a high social status, Germont’s dirty yet effective jabs at her fragile self-esteem, and how 19th-century institutions of “family honour” and “sacred bonds” get the better of Violetta and serve Germont’s objective perfectly.

The famous music that immediately precedes Germont’s line, “Madamigella Valery” comes to mind at about 2:05:

What do you think? What are your favourite power-scenes in opera? Why?

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