Operas are famous for their dramatic romances. Rather, operas are famous for their dramatic and often unrealistic romances where characters meet in one scene and are willing to die for each other in the next. Of course, operas are not the only sources of romantic drama in entertainment today; romantic comedies certainly have their fair share of romance and drama in their own extreme forms. What would happen if these two genres merged together? Would we get more passionate arias following scandalous one night stands? A woman realizing that she’s really in love with her fiancée’s brother as they sing a soprano-tenor duet? Soaring violin lines underscoring a moonlit kiss?
To be honest, these possibilities just sound like scenes from already existing operas. It’s a perfect fit! Here are our ten favorite rom-com-inspired operas, hopefully hitting the stage soon at a theater near you.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
If you want a classic soubrette soprano role in your rom-com opera, look no further than Holly Golightly. The story of a country-girl-turned-Manhattan-socialite who falls in love with the struggling writer next door is the quintessential New York love story. It's perfect for a Bernstein-esque score and brightly-lit skylines. Come for the 1960s New York fashion and stay for the chorus of baritones that Holly turns away.
Shakespeare in Love
There have already been quite a few operas adapted from Shakespearean plays. Why not create an opera about Shakespeare himself? This imagined love affair that inspired Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night is the perfect backdrop for gorgeous duets, gender-bending hilarity, and maybe even a neoclassical score. The prospect of costuming 1590s nobility is reason enough for this opera’s existence.
The Princess Bride
Operas often include hints of fantasy and magic, which is exactly what The Princess Bride brings to the table. It’s just over-the-top enough to justify breaking into song, and the amount of sword-fighting and death/almost-death scenes will be worth the price of admission. Plus, the world needs a dramatic aria where a tenor can sing “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” before an epic duel.
Harold and Maude
A quirky and dark cult classic, Harold and Maude follows the story of Harold, an 18-year-old that enjoys faking his own death, and Maude, the 79-year-old woman with whom he befriends and falls in love. It’s a perfect fit for post-modern musical trends, and could include shades of atonality or minimalism to give it a true dark comedy vibe. Harold and Maude: the opera could also be a boon to mezzo-sopranos. Make Harold a pants role and you’ve got two mezzos sharing the spotlight.
Letters to Juliet
Romance, Shakespeare, and Verona - what more do you need for an opera? Letters to Juliet follows the journey of aspiring writer, Sophie, who discovers the “Secretaries of Juliet”: volunteers who respond to letters left at the fictional Juliet's Verona courtyard. She meets Claire, the owner of an unanswered letter from 1957, and helps her find the letter's owner, all the while finding love herself. A series of Italian songs sung by these leading ladies would bring a nice operatic flair as they searched for Claire’s long-lost lover.
Midnight in Paris
Did you say Paris? What about time travel to 1920s Paris? Take the city of love, where the famous La Bohème takes place, add some of the greatest novelists and artists of the 1920s, and you’ve got a recipe for an operatic masterpiece. Anything magical can happen at midnight, and an ensemble piece at a writer’s party featuring Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, and Ernest Hemingway would be an absolute showstopper.
While You Were Sleeping
The female lead admires the male lead from afar. She saves him from being run over by a train and is mistaken for his fiancée while he is in a coma. Just as she becomes a part of his family, she falls in love with his brother. It’s a classic twist on everyone's favorite romances and would be perfectly played out on the opera stage. Just think about the heartwrenching and heartwarming arias: Lucy sings to the comatose Paul as she ends up deeper and deeper in this misunderstanding. Jack sings to Lucy as he puts an engagement ring in the token tray of her Transit Authority toll booth. Cue a standing ovation.
Adorable soprano ingénue? Check. Amélie, which tells the story of a young, eccentric French waitress who dedicates her life to making others happy, would bring opera audiences to their feet. We get an opera character we can cheer for who is completely good-willed and pure of heart and Parisian music, once again in Paris. Set it in French, add a cute café set, and it practically writes itself.
A pretty girl, straight out of high school, meets a young man working at a local mill and they fall in love, much to her family’s chagrin. It sounds like the plot from Aaron Copland’s The Tenderland, if Laurie was rich and Martin had enlisted in the army to fight in World War II. Okay, so The Notebook is very different from The Tenderland, but can’t you just imagine a soaring Copland-esque melody as Allie and Noah kiss in the rain? And the dramatic duet when he asks her why she never responded to any of his letters? It’s operatic gold.
This film about a wealthy man who falls in love with a prostitute is essentially La Traviata in rom-com form, except (spoiler alert) no one has to die and the couple lives happily ever after. A plot point of the story even involves the couple going to see a performance of La Traviata. Inception, much? If that’s not a sign that this movie is destined for the opera stage, I don’t know what is.