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  • Ian Passmore

Passmore's Picks: Valentine's Day Edition

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends <3 In classical music—most often in opera, but not always—we musicians have a funny way of explaining non-comedic plots. It goes something like this… boy meets girl, they fall in love, one or both of them dies (most often the girl), the end. As upsetting and SUPER generalized as that is, it often yields some of the most beautiful and memorable moments in the repertoire. Here are some of my favorites, in chronological order… (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

1. Richard Wagner, Tristan & Isolde (1859): “Prelude & Liebestod”

- SPOILER: They both die in the end.

2. Georges Bizet, Carmen (1875): Habanera: "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" ("Love is a rebellious bird.")

- SPOILER: Carmen dies in the end.

3. Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Romeo and Juliet (1880)

- SPOILER: They both die in the end.


4. Giacomo Puccini, La boheme (1893-95): “O soave fanciulla” ("Oh, lovely girl")

- SPOILER: Mimi dies in the end.


5. Leonard Bernstein, West Side Story (1957): “One Hand, One Heart” and “Somewhere”

- SPOILER: Tony dies in the end.


*Bonus number: The “Tonight Quintet” from West Side Story is one of the most ingenious achievements in musical theatre.

- SPOILER: Tony still dies in the end! What can I say: star-crossed lovers make for great musical drama.



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