When some people think of opera, they might think that it consists of classic music that you couldn’t possibly imagine hearing in the 21st century (let alone anything in popular culture). But believe it or not, operatic influence can be found in many pop culture classics. Here are five of your favorite shows and movies that include music from our first production of 2023, The Marriage of Figaro.
1. Willy Wonka
In the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) plays the opening of the overture to unlock the famous chocolate factory doors. If you listen closely, you can hear Mrs. Teevee confidently (and incorrectly) state that the music is composed by Rachmaninoff.
2. Pride and Prejudice
In the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) plays and beautifully sings Cherubino’s Act Two aria "Voi che sapete," charming the gentlemen with great success.
3. Mad Men
In this award-winning drama show about the high-pressure and glamorous world of Madison Avenue advertising firms, one of the first episodes, named “The Marriage of Figaro,” mimics the opera’s intertwining romances. In one of the scenes you can hear Figaro and Susanna's opening duet, "Cinque... dieci... venti," playing at a party.
In this 2009 comedy, the overture from The Marriage of Figaro is used for dramatic effect as survivors of a zombie apocalypse smash the contents of a grocery shop. Not exactly sure that's what Mozart envisioned when composing this song, but it works!
5. The King's Speech
In one of the film's most memorable scenes, King George VI (Colin Firth) has to recite Hamlet while listening to the opera's famous overture so loudly that he can’t hear himself stammering.