Bit of a hiccough yesterday- I was busy as a bee and unable to post, but now I'm back with a double helping of the August Opera Challenge, and it's all about romance... Firstly, I'm nominating Papageno and Papagena from Mozart's Die Zauberflote as opera's happiest romance. I've always loved the characters and their duet is one of the sweetest and funniest pieces of music in the whole repertoire, but my affection for them was strengthened on a visit to Welsh National Opera last year for a production of The Magic Flute. The famous duet brought a tear to me eye, which I think had a lot to do with the staging- when they discussed their future offspring, lots of little babies popped up from holes in the stage and I got a bit overwhelmed... but this clip from the Royal Opera House's production starring Simon Keenlyside and Ailish Tynan is just as lovely. And Simon has a duck on his head. Excellent.
Moving on to something a bit less joyous, I'm nominating Siegmund and Sieglinde from Wagner's Die Walkure as opera's most tragic romance. I can't believe I've got to day eighteen without choosing any Wagner- how has that happened? Die Walkure is one of my favourite operas (maybe my second favourite after Tosca) and it's hard not to get emotionally attached to the Walsung twins and their plight- I mean, she finds him after all those years, gets pregnant and then has to watch him die on the orders of their own father. Obviously by this point you've completely forgotten about the incest... Here's Placido Domingo and Waultrud Meier in the roles in Madrid in 2003.