Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Bechdel test

I am going to attempt to apply The Bechdel test to opera.  The Bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two named women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

  • Carmen and her named girlfriends try to predict their futures in a card game.  Men are discussed in the abstract, but the conversation inadvertently turns to death when Carmen draws the death card.
  • In La Boheme Mimi tells Musetta that her hands are cold so Musetta goes out and buys a muff.
  • In Marriage of Figaro the countess and Susanna plot their revenge on the count.  This probably doesn't count.  However, Marcellina and Susanna have an extended exchange of insults that definitely qualifies.
  • Despina in Cosi fan tutte advises the sisters to take new lovers while their current boy friends are away.  Generic advice so it should count.
  • In Die Fledermaus Adele pretends to her boss Rosalinde that her aunt is sick so she can accept an invitation to a party.
  • In Fidelio Leonore, a woman  pretending to be a man, successfully becomes engaged to a young woman, Marzelline.  I'm not sure if this counts or not.  For me it has layers of hidden meaning.
  • In La Traviata Violetta and Flora are friends and invite each other to parties, but we see them only briefly talking. 
  • In Magic Flute Queen and Pamina plot to kill Saroastro.  This probably doesn't count.
  • The witch in Hansel and Gretel orders Gretel around while Hansel is frozen.
  • In Elektra Elektra and Chrysothemis plot to murder Klytämnestra.
  • In the opera Jenůfa Kostelnička tells her step-daughter Jenůfa that her baby has died, when in reality Kostelnička has killed him.
  • In Otello Desdemona asks Emilia to put out her bridal gown and then asks to be buried in it.  They discuss the Willow Song.
  • In La Cenerentola the step-sisters get into some competitive bragging while constantly putting down Angiolina.
  • Most of Dialogues of the Carmelites.
  • In The Medium Madame Flora and her daughter Monica arrange seances.  They talk mostly about the business.

This seems an entertaining game for opera plots.I will continue to add new items.

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