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“Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!” Rossini and Pop Culture

Think you haven't heard Rossini? Think again. The composer currently has more than 500 credits (and counting!) on the Internet Movie Database. Here are just a handful of examples of Rossini's music in pop culture - proving that even centuries later, his work is timeless.

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Think you haven't heard Rossini? Think again. Rossini might have given up on composing relatively early in his life (read more about his post-retirement gastronomic pursuits), but his music lives on…the composer currently has more than 500 credits (and counting!) on the Internet Movie Database.

Here are just a handful of examples of Rossini's music in pop culture - proving that even centuries later, his work is timeless. To hear one of Rossini's greatest works live on stage, do not miss The Barber of Seville at Lyric, running from February 1 to 28. 

The Barber of Seville 

Undoubtedly Rossini's most popular opera, excerpts from the comic masterpiece The Barber of Seville have been feature in films, TV shows, and cartoons for decades.

Perhaps the most recognizable example is the Looney Tunes classic "Rabbit of Seville." Rossini's overture provides the backdrop for a classic Bugs Bunny-Elmer Fudd confrontation.

 


However, this isn't the only time Bugs encountered Rossini. The famous "Largo al Factotum" aria is prominently featured in "Long Haired Hare," when Bugs Bunny's banjo distracts irritable opera singer Giovanni Jones.

 


For those of who love Seinfeld, one of the sitcom's most famous episodes couples the drama of Jerry attempting to change barbers with music from the overture.

 


The Barber of Seville is not just for cartoons and comedy. One of the opera's most famous arias was used in Citizen Kane. Newspaper magnate and megalomaniac Charles Foster Kane attempts to mold his second wife into an opera star, with disastrous results, perfectly illustrated by the use of Rosina's famous aria, "Una voce poco fa."

 


William Tell 

Vying with The Barber of Seville as the most-referenced Rossini composition is the overture to William Tell, the composer's last opera. It was the famous theme song for The Lone Ranger series on radio and later on television-so much so that you can't hear this music without thinking of galloping horses. "Hi-ho, Silver, away!"

 


And going back to the early days of Disney, Mickey Mouse channeled Rossini with the short "The Band Concert," released in 1935.

 

 

The Thieving Magpie  

Featuring a catchy waltz tune, The Thieving Magpie overture has been used in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, the cult cartoon favorite Ren & Stimpy, and more. Recently, the BBC's Sherlock-a modern adaptation of the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories-made brilliant use of the overture in a robbery scene.  

                   

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)

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A “Super” Showcase for Renée Fleming

Lyric's own creative consultant Renée Fleming was just announced as the performer of the National Anthem as part of the Super Bowl XLVIII pregame festivities at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, February 2.

ReneeFleming

Lyric's own creative consultant Renée Fleming was just announced as the performer of the National Anthem as part of the Super Bowl XLVIII pregame festivities at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, February 2.

This will mark Renée's Super Bowl debut and the first time that an opera singer has performed the anthem in Super Bowl history.

Read the full report at New Jersey's own Star-Ledger. And tune in to FOX on February 2—the anthem will be performed at approximately 5 p.m. CST!

Photo credit: Andrew Eccles / Decca

Rossini's Second Act

Gioachino Rossini is one of opera’s most beloved composers—writing 39 operas in his first 37 years before abruptly retiring to pursue his second passion: food!

ChefRossini

Gioachino Rossini is one of opera's most beloved composers—writing 39 operas in his first 37 years, including The Barber of Seville, La donna del Lago, and William Tell. However, after the premiere of William Tell, Rossini abruptly retired from composing and gave full expression to his second passion—food.

He spent the rest of his life—40 years!—as a celebrated gourmand. As one of the top foodies of the day, he was close friend of noted Parisian chef Antonin Carême, who he met while studying in Paris. The two of them had a unique version of a pen-pal correspondence: Carême would send Rossini pâté or another specialty item, and Rossini would reply with a short aria as thanks.

Rossini's culinary reputation grew so large that the phrase "alla Rossini"—most often signifying some combination of liver, foie gras, and truffles in a dish—became appended to creations by many chefs, including the famous Tournedos Rossini preparation of filet mignon.

Before you come and see the fabulous new production of The Barber of Seville  here at Lyric (opening on Saturday, February 1), indulge in some of these rich Rossini-inspired recipes. As the composer himself once said, "I know of no more admirable occupation than eating." 

Tournedos Rossini 

TournedosRossini

In this most famous of all Rossini-named dishes, filet mignon is accompanied by truffles, foie gras, and a very rich sauce. (Recipe from The New York Times)

 

Macaroni à la Rossini

MacaroniRossini

In this recipe that is dictated by the composer himself, pasta sheets are layered with mushrooms, truffles, and ham in a tomato-champagne-cream sauce. (Recipe from NPR. Note that "macaroni" actually indicates flat pasta sheets, similar to a lasagna.) 

 

 

CannelloniallaRossini

 

Cannelloni alla Rossini

A modern update of the composer's macaroni dish that swaps out the mushrooms and ham for a mixture of liver, chicken, veal, and pork with both a tomato and cream-based sauce.  (Recipe from Saveur).

 

 

Coupe Rossini

 

CoupeRossini

Created by the San Francisco Opera for their opening night gala, this dessert pays tribute to the composer with a rich mascarpone mousse paired with delicious fresh berries. We think Rossini would have approved. (Recipe from Foodnetwork.com.)

 

Rossini Cocktail

RossiniCocktail

A delightful take on the Bellini, featuring strawberries (instead of the traditional peaches) paired with prosecco and Grand Marnier. (Recipe by Ina Garten, from Oprah.com).

 

To learn more about Rossini's prolific but brief composing career and lengthy retirement, read this excellent New York Times article by Zachary Woolfe from 2011. 

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Twitter is abuzz about Lyric's new RING

Opera geeks around the world were beyond excited about news of Lyric's new Ring cycle, starring Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde and Eric Owens as Wotan, just announced on Friday, January 17.

Opera geeks around the world were beyond excited about news of Lyric's new Ring cycle, starring Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde and Eric Owens as Wotan, just announced on Friday, January 17.  (Read a short recap of the press conference here.) As Christine said, "I'm ready to get my breastplate on and do it!"

View the story "Ringheads rejoice! Wagner's epic cycle returns to Lyric's stage" on Storify

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