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quotations about opera

The opera isn't over till the fat lady sings.

[Opera] does not call so much for an imaginative ear as for an imaginative eye, an eye which can see beyond little absurdities toward great truths.

GEORGE MAREK, J. Merrill Knapp's The Magic of Opera

Nightfall, going to the opera. Changing worlds. Trading the working world for one of fantastic, fleeting leisure. Climbing giant staircases. Bronze women proffer fake torches, ceilings full of goddesses and gods ... in this architecture can be read a whole, no longer existent, world. The ghosts of a society wander here in a dream.

CATHERINE CLEMENT, Opera: The Undoing of Women

Opera once was an important social instrument -- especially in Italy. With Rossini and Verdi people were listening to opera together and having the same catharsis with the same story, the same moral dilemmas. They were holding hands in the darkness. That has gone. Now perhaps they are holding hands watching television.

LUCIANO BERIO, London Observer, Feb. 5, 1989

Watching Italian opera, all those male sopranos screeching, stupid fat couples rolling their eyes about. That’s not love, it’s just rubbish.


The aim of Opera has ever been, and still is today, confined to Music. Merely so as to afford Music with a colourable pretext for her own excursions, is the purpose of Drama dragged on -- naturally, not to curtail the ends of Music, but rather to serve her simply as a means.

RICHARD WAGNER, Opera and Drama

Opera is a type of drama whose integral existence is determined from point to point and in the whole by musical articulation. Dramma per musica.


The opera isn’t over till the fat lady sings.


I wish the opera was every night. It is, of all entertainments, the sweetest and most delightful. Some of the songs seemed to melt my very soul.


I love Italian opera -- it’s so reckless. Damn Wagner, and his bellowings at Fate and death. Damn Debussy, and his averted face. I like the Italians who run all on impulse, and don’t care about their immortal souls, and don’t worry about the ultimate.

D.H. LAWRENCE, letter, Apr. 1, 1911

The Opera is obviously the first draft of a fine spectacle; it suggests the idea of one.


No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.

W.H. AUDEN, Time magazine, Dec. 29, 1961

The opera is like a husband with a foreign title: expensive to support, hard to understand, and therefore a supreme social challenge.

CLEVELAND AMORY, NBC Television, Apr. 6, 1961

People's reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don't, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.

J. F. LAWTON, Pretty Woman

The more opera is dead, the more it flourishes.

SLAVOJ ZIZEK, Opera's Second Death


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