In the last couple years, I have seen lots of the Metropolitan Opera’s live opera HD simulcasts so that’s my vote for best use of a movie theater for opera. But for the best use of opera in a movie, I was surprised to hear an opera excerpt brilliantly used in the soundtrack to the ridiculous comedy, Step Brothers.
In a scene where young playground bullies are forcing almost-40 year old Brennan Huff’s face towards a piece of dog doo, one hears an excerpt from Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. It’s a hilarious juxtaposition of stomach-churning, screwball comedy with possibly the most heartbreakingly beautiful aria ever written, Isolde’s Liebestod [“love-death”].
In a previous post, I discussed the use of Wagner operas in the fantasy movie, Excalibur, but the use of Mild und Liese (another name for Isolde’s aria) in Step Brothers was even more unexpected and, for me, a delightful little moment when my interests in high and low culture converged.