Last week, we here at OA were looking forward to embracing the bad luck and superstitions of Friday the 13th of May 2011. As such, we developed a great competition using the hashtag #spookyopera to get your input as to what your favourite spooky opera scenes were, and then gave away 2 tickets to our 2011 Don Giovanni featuring Teddy Tahu Rhodes to a randomly-selected winner.
Twitter’s @Johnofoz took out the prize with his suggestion: “The Ghosts' High Noon from Ruddigore: Spectres, grisly hand, wind howl, bats, nightbirds wailing, black dog baying.”
His winning suggestion can be seen in action below as performed by the Southampton Operatic Society:
However many of you also expressed an interest in wanting to know which scenes got the most votes, so here are the Top 10 Spooky Opera Moments as voted by you and compiled from YouTube!
10. The Ghosts of Versailles
This opera was voted as the 10th most spooky, and though no particular scene was nominated as spookier than the rest, I think They Are Always With Me fits the bill very nicely!
9. The Flying Dutchman
In 9th place comes Wagner's The Flying Dutchman - look out sailors!
8. Salome's "moment" with the severed head
There were debates across Twitter and Facebook as to whether this classified as 'spooky' or just 'creepy', but the votes speak for themselves. In 8th place comes Salome's close and personal moment with the head of John the Baptist. @SamuelSakker thought it was "Dirty, creepy [and] sexy!" When questioned on the last adjective (severed heads, sexy?) he directed me to the following video, so I'll let you decide:
7. The Countess' death and return in The Queen of Spades
Though she returns in many different ways, the reawakening of the Countess' spirit in The Queen of Spades (Pique Dame) was cited as a spooky moment by many ex-boyfriends.
6. Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball)
Maybe it's the masks or maybe it's the witchcraft, but either way A Masked Ball was voted the sixth spookiest opera around.
5. The Wolf's Glen in Freitschutz
In this version of the Wolf's Glen, weird 4-legged creatures crawl around while strange large-breasted ghouls roam the forest. Although spooky, I must admit this clip gave me the giggles.
4. Peter Grimes
In fourth place comes a demonstration that sometimes spooky isn't just about the supernatural. Many tweeters expressed profound discomfort and yes, spookiness, from the near-lynchmob of Peter Grimes, as well as the psychological discomfort of the main character himself. This clip from the Opera Australia production:
3. The Turn of the Screw
Although Peter Quint was most often highlighted as exceptionally spooky, the whole opera is right up there on the spooky scale. This YouTube clip is more informative than demonstrative, but given the commentator (Anthony Freud, the General Director of the Houston Grand Opera) talks directly about its spookiness, there's no going past this:
2. Bluebeard's Castle
As there were disagreements on which door was the spookiest, I decided to generalise the votes as votes for Bluebeard's Castle. This video is of a Met production sung in English. Think it's still as spooky as the native Hungarian?
1. The return of Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni
The number one spot ended up going to the prize - Don Giovanni. The return of Il Commendatore to drag Don Giovanni down into hell as Leporello watches on only very closely won the day. Digging through the archives, I uploaded the following YouTube video of our 1991 production. Jeffrey Black is Don Giovanni, while Il Commendatore is played by the late and great Donald Shanks:
I'd like to thank everyone for getting involved, but remember: Just because the competition is over it doesn't mean you can't still have your say. So what do you think? Does this seem right? Has spooky justice been done?