Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Thursday Quiz LXXXIX

The Thursday Quiz!

The Thursday Quiz is a twelve item is-it-or-isn't-it test of your knowledge, reasoning, stamina, and moxie!

Remember always the Fundamental Rules of the Thursday Quiz:

1. The Thursday Quiz is a POP quiz. No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. Violators will never be able to look at themselves in the mirror again.

2. Don't get all stressed out about it! It's supposed to be fun!

Opera Plots!

Which of the following opera synopses are more or less accurate, and which are just silly? ...or, rather, and which are not accurate?

1. Adams, Nixon in China. The President of the United States visits China, has cryptic conversations with Mao Tse-Tung, and takes tours along with his wife. Diplomacy is conducted. The high hopes that all the major characters bring to the event are somewhat disappointed by its relatively modest outcomes.

2. Glass, Hindenburg. Two romances, one between aristocrats and one between a more humble couple, develop as the doomed airship crosses the Atlantic. A Nazi saboteur is also on board; the opera leaves it ambiguous whether he carries out his plot or if the zeppelin is brought down by natural forces. In the stunned aftermath, we learn which characters have survived and which have perished.

3. Haydn, Cosi Fan Tutti. A comic opera intended for performance at Christmastime, Cosi Fan Tutti traces the adventures and mishaps of the shepherds – portrayed as rustic rubes – and the wise men – portrayed as pompous, foolish blowhards – as they try to find their way to the Adoration.

4. Mozart, The Magic Flute. The Queen of the Night sends a young hero out to rescue her daughter from an evil magician. It turns out, though, that the evil magician is actually good, and the Queen of the Night is actually evil. The hero has to go through strange trials to become worthy to enter the Temple of Light. He hooks up with the Queen of the Night’s daughter in the end.

5. Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro. Figaro, the Prince of Milan, must choose between three women: a peasant girl with whom he is in love, a sorceress who is trying to seduce him through magic, and the Princess of Saxony, whom his father insists he should marry for purposes of state. During a festival, the King discovers that the sorceress is actually a male wizard out to steal the royal treasury. The wizard repents, having met and fallen in love with the peasant girl; the king pardons him in exchange for casting a spell on Figaro, who thus falls in love with, and marries, the princess.

6. Offenbach, Tales of Hoffman. A writer tells stories about three of his relationships that didn’t work out. One old girlfriend sang herself to death, one was a courtesan who was only out to steal his reflection, and one turned out to be a robot. After thinking this over, he decides to give up all women except his muse, and just be a writer.

7. Puccini, Turandot. A young prince falls in love with a queen who, not really thinking of herself as the settling-down type, asks suitors three riddles and has them beheaded when they don’t get the answers right. He is able to give the right answers, though, so she has to marry him.

8. Rossini, Barber of Seville. A count is in love with the beautiful ward of a wealthy doctor, but the doctor is a bit creepy and wants to marry the girl himself. The count manages to elope with the girl through the help of an energetic local hair stylist.

9. Rossini, La Traviata. An Ethiopian princess is captured and brought into slavery in Egypt. An Egyptian military commander struggles to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. Eventually, he is condemned as a traitor and buried alive, but the princess sneaks into the burial chamber so they can die together.

10. Sibelius, Gotterdamerung. Gotterdamerung is the court jester to the King of Norway, and faces a terrible professional problem: he is in love with the King’s daughter. He endures the humiliation of abuse from everyone around him, and only expresses his feelings obliquely, through his sly jesting. After he saves the princess from an attack by a villainous courtier, it is revealed that he is actually the Prince of Finland, adopted by the Norwegian King for safekeeping during an uprising. In the final scene, he marries the princess and returns to claim his kingdom.

11. Smetana, The Bartered Bride. Two young lovers plan to marry, but the girl’s parents want her to marry the son of a rich landlord. The parents hire a marriage broker, who bribes the boyfriend to sign a contract relinquishing the girl to the landlord’s son. But it turns out that the boyfriend is the landlord’s long lost OTHER son, so he gets the girl after all. And then a bear escapes from the circus.

12. Wagner, Tristan and Isolde. A Cornish prince has killed the Irish princess’s fiancé and is bringing her home to marry the King of Cornwall instead. She decides to kill him and herself, but oops, accidentally uses the love potion instead of the bottle of poison. Now madly in love with each other, the couple cheat on the king, get caught, and end up dying from a combination of love and, well, wounds.

Submit your answers in the comments.


Elaine said...

1. I vaguely think I have heard of SOMEthing called Nixon in China, but ?? No
2. Nevah heard of it, but it sounds good. I'll guess Yes
3. I don't think so
4. Okay
5. Gee, this isn't the story I recall.
6. I have no clue, so Yes
7. I'll say yes, though instead of the "right" answers, the suitor says (kinda) "The answer is love."
8. Oh, okay
9. No. That's Aida.
10. No. (As in, I hope not!)
11. I'll say okay
12. Hmm. It is possible this is Wagner's version. The plot is somewhat mangled vis a vis the original legend.

Woof. Brutal quiz!

Elizabeth said...

Opera, as promised! I can't wait for the Pacific Banana Slug quiz now.

1. Bravo!
2. Not that I've heard.
3. Nope.
4. Bravo! with a shout-out to the Masonic Temple.
5. No, no, no.
6. Yep. Especially the robot part.
7. Yes. Nessun dorma, you know.
8. Yes.
9. No, that's Aida.
10. No, I don't think so.
11. Yes.
12. You know, I've never actually seen any Wagner? And I thought they all had to do with German plots and shrieking Valkyries. But I think this is correct.

Exit, pursued by the bear.

The Calico Cat said...

you got me, I know NOTHING about opera. (I've seen 1 or 2, but that is it...)

mhwitt said...

Guessing alert!

1. Is
2. Isn't
3. Isn't
4. Is
5. Is
6. Is
7. Is
8. Is
9. Isn't
10. Isn't
11. Is
12. Is

mrs.5000 said...

1 yes
2 no
3 no
4 no?
5 no
6 yes
7 I saw this once, and I still don't know! I must have given up on the plot early on. I say no.
8 yes
9 yes
10 no, but I think it has potential.
11 yes
12 yes

Geometricus said...

1. correct
2. correct
3. NO
4. corr
5. NO
6. corr
7. No
8. corr
9 NO
10 No
11. corr
12. corr

I am a music major, but we focused on music, not plot. I'm pretty sure half of these are wrong.

Favorite line: "And then a bear escapes from the circus."

d said...

1 because this sounds really ludicrous, i will say yes.
2 hmmm. no?
3 sure
4 sure
5 i know this is a real thing, but i feel like maybe your description is wrong, so i will say no
6 BORING, but ok, yes
7 sure
8 hmmm. no?
9 yes
10 no
11 yes
12 yes

Ben said...

Not a huge opera fan...

1. Sounds boring, so it must be true.
2. Not
3. Nope.
4. Sounds plausible (I've actually seen this opera once, long ago, but I guess I don't remember much except for the Queen of the Night's aria.)
5. Topsy-turvy enough to be true.
6. I don't think you could make this up--oh wait, yes you could. True.
7. No, only because I already have 3 trues in a row.
8. True.
9. False.
10. False
11. Of course
12. False

DrSchnell said...

Opera, shmopera! Though opera has a reputation of being more serious than musicals, the plots are every bit as ridiculous.
1. yes
2. no
3. no
4. yes
5. yes
6. no
7. yes
8. yes
9. yes
10. no
11. yes
12. yes

fingerstothebone said...

1. yes
2. haven't seen this one, but I'll say no
3. no
4. hmm, this opera is always really confusing to me, but I'll say yes
5. I should say that Mozart operas always confuse me, but this doesn't sound familiar at all, so I'll say no
6. sounds about right, yes (although I only remember the robot and the courtesan parts)
7. not sure how exactly you want this -- Turandot was a princess and not a queen -- but otherwise, yes
8. yes
9. no (the Ethiopian princess thing is Aida)
10. no, although I haven't seen this either
11. haven't seen this one, but I'm gonna say no
12. yes, and it's magnificent

fingerstothebone said...

Also, I'm patiently waiting for you to do a quiz on unix/c or maybe even old television technologies, then perhaps I'll have a chance.

Michael5000 said...

Let's get us some answers going on!

1. Adams, Nixon in China. SURE.

2. Glass, Hindenburg. PURE M5K POPPYCOCK. Good premise, though, don't you think?

3. Haydn, Cosi Fan Tutti. NO. "Cosi" is a Mozart opera with no relation to what I said here.

4. Mozart, The Magic Flute. YES. Freakin' hard to make a summary of. Whoever wrote Mozart's libretti must have been a MAJOR stoner.

5. Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro. NO. Real opera, but I invented the plot summary from scratch. Please note that it is awesome.

6. Offenbach, Tales of Hoffman. YES. Awesome opera.

7. Puccini, Turandot. YES. Although, see below.

8. Rossini, Barber of Seville. YES.

9. Rossini, La Traviata. NOPE. That's the plot of Verdi's "Aida."

10. Sibelius, Gotterdamerung. NO. Gotterdamerung (which means "Death of the Gods") is some claptrap by Wagner. The plot is another one of my inventions. As with 'Figaro, I feel it's awesome. Really, I oughta be writing operas.

11. Smetana, The Bartered Bride. YES. Don't be afraid, the bear is actually the landlord's dumb son blundering around in a bear costume.

12. Wagner, Tristan and Isolde. YES. Nothing as romantic as chemically-induced love.

Michael5000 said...

That means that the lovely but tragic alto Elizabeth is the prima donna of this staging, with a pitch-perfect performance that earns her the TQLXXXIX Gold Star! Bravo! Bravissima!

Sinister, brooding bass mhwitt, whom I must say knows a lot more about opera than I would have guessed, scores 11/12 for the Silver Star.

Radiant soprano fingerstothebone, resplendant with her waist-length, abundant blonde braids and horn-decked viking helm, also hit 11/12 for the Blue! AND! for identifying that rarest of things, a significant factual error in the Thursday Quiz -- Turandot is indeed a princess, not a queen -- she recieves the third-ever, extremely prestigious BIG PURPLE ASTERISK! (We can expect she'll do well, too, on next week's quiz on "Television Technologies of Yesteryear"!)

Also, since everyone did so damn well at what I think was a pretty tough Quiz, we're bending the rules to give Green Stars to the two 10/12 contestants: coloratura soprano Elaine and first-time contestant Geometricus. Geometricus might be a tenor or a contralto; it's kind of hard to hear from here.

fingerstothebone said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, I'll always cherish my purple asterisk. I'll display it in the guest bathroom.

Elaine said...

Congratulations to M5000 for slyly tricking me into buying his libretto proposal for the Hindenburg. When can we expect the opera?
And thanks for promoting me to a coloratura soprano! Wow. This is exciting for an old clarinetist (the coloratura of woodwinds.) --Among other things, we played the overture to "Cosi fan Tutti" in HS band.

Anonymous said...

3. Haydn, Cosi Fan Tutti. NO. "Cosi" is a Mozart opera with no relation to what I said here.

Cosi fan tuttE, though.

10. Sibelius, Gotterdamerung. NO. Gotterdamerung (which means "DAWN of the Gods", actually)

12. Wagner, Tristan and Isolde. YES. Nothing as romantic as chemically-induced love...

Except there's no love-potion, if you look closely. Only the absence of a death-potion. Knowing they will die, T&I can finally reveal--to themselves and each other--their true feelings. Five minutes later they're: "Wait-a-second, weren't we supposed to be dead by now... Ooops. This is awkward. I guess I just told you how I really feel. And sorry about slaying your hubby, btw."

Michael5000 said...

@Anon: Hi! Gotterdamerung actually means TWILIGHT of the Gods, which is ambiguous. It can be construed as "dawn," and some folks do so; the more conventional interpretation is twilight as in the End, the Sunset, the Doom, or indeed the Death of the Gods. Or maybe it's supposed to be both, but I don't really think of subtlety as Wagner's strong suit.

I don't really know from T & I, but every synopsis I've looked at (including the Met's and La Scala's) mention the love potion.

Got me on Tutte, but I don't sweat mistakes in the false answers. : )