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.  Try some of your own.

No comments: