Two separate, and seemingly disparate, elements have influenced this week’s blog.

The first was a recent conversation with a friend who challenged me to summarise the plot of the opera in which I’m currently appearing – a new production of Strauss’ Daphne at La Monnaie in Brussels – in 10 words or less.

This is trickier than it sounds. Strauss’ plots, particularly the Greek ones, are never the most easy to condense, as is evident if you read the summaries printed in theatre programmes. I don’t know about you, but I find myself re-reading whole paragraphs again and again in the vain hope that I will better understand the hierarchy of relationships with each subsequent reading.

This amusing diversion in turn led to us challenging one another to summarise other opera plots in five words or less. (I have a sneaky suspicion that those ridiculously strong Belgian beers might have made this conversation appear more creatively amusing than it actually was.)

To relate the second element, I must first confess to a habit I’ve picked up in my years living at the end of 45-minute train commute from London – upon entraining, the first thing I look for is not a free seat, but a discarded newspaper.

Living in the stockbroker belt, this is normally never a problem. There’s usually a stray Times (my freebie of choice owing to the excellent sports and arts coverage), Indy, Guardian or Torygraph lurking on a luggage shelf nearby. Once in a while though, there’s only a Daily Fail.

Let me state for the record that I am not a fan of the Daily Mail. I find their politics are not to my tastes, and I will only pick up a discarded copy if there’s nothing else going.

However, there is one thing I reluctantly admit to admiring about the copywriters at the Daily Fail – their ability to reduce any complicated story to a three-word headline. It’s astonishing the amount of information (and emotional judgement) they are able to pack into those three words, and it’s done in a way that sucks you into the article. It’s only when you read on into said article that you realise how many salient facts have been glossed over in order to facilitate that salacious headline.

This morning, as I was pondering potential subjects for this week’s blog post over a superb latte in my very cool local coffee shop in Brussels (how many coffee shops play Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and The Wall in their entirety to the mid-morning clientele?), these two elements magically coalesced in my caffeine-addled brain into one simple hashtag – #3wordoperaheadlines.

How might the plots of our favourite operas appear if they were condensed into sensational three-word Daily Fail-style headlines?

It occurs to me that this might make a diverting Twitter game, so I’m going to post a few on my Twitter account @AyePatz and see if it catches on.

I’m also willing to bet that the non-tweeting readers of this blog could come up with a few belters, so please send me your ideas via the comments section of this post, and I’ll tweet the best of them.

Here are a few examples to get you started.

“SINGER MURDERS COP” – Tosca #3wordoperaheadlines

“ROYAL LOVERS POISONED” – Tristan und Isolde #3wordoperaheadlines

“SIBLINGS MASSACRE FAMILY” – Elektra #3wordoperaheadlines

Over to you.


I am delighted to announce the winners of #3wordoperaheadlines, who win nothing more than a mere moment’s fleeting Twitter glory.

In 3rd place, for his slightly plagiarised Giulio Cesare, is…




In 2nd place, for his slightly tasteless, but highly amusing Billy Budd, is…



But the overall winner, for his, quite frankly, INSPIRED Rigoletto, is…



Love it!

Thanks to all who played along and cheered up a very slow afternoon of rehearsal!


  1. Don Giovanni – Don Juan Gone #3wordoperaheadlines
    Giulio Cesare – Came, Saw, Conquered #3wordoperaheadlines
    Der Fliegende Hollander – Senta Goes Dutch #3wordoperaheadlines
    Maria Stuarda or Anna Bolena – Queen Loses Head #3wordoperaheadlines

  2. Damn! So much for getting some work done today!

    How about:

    ‘Archer Aces Apple’ for William Tell?
    ‘Druid’s Death Pact’ for Norma?
    ‘Hero’s Swan Song’ for Lohengrin?

    Occurs to me would be fun to present headlines and try to guess opera!

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