Many dramatic works, be them ballet, opera, or Broadway musical, involve a love story. In fact, we would guess that nine times out of ten, the story that draws attention and adoration does so because they reach into our deepest desires, which includes the longing for love.
In celebration of the February event that inspires the consumption of chocolates and the purchases of cut flowers, we would like to list some works we think would be great for Valentine’s Day.
1. Romeo and Juliet
Whether performed as a drama, ballet, opera, or movie musical, this tale is a timeless love story that has transcended time itself. There are very few people in the civilized world who are unaware of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers and their untimely fate. Oops, we hope we didn’t spoil the ending for you.
Romeo and Juliet are young, preteens practically, in the original version, who fall madly in love with each other, yet their families have been feuding for as long as anyone can remember. Their only choice is to run away if they want to be together, yet when a member of the family finds out, his fate is sealed, and the young lovers’ problems just got bigger.
2. Sound of Music
A standard go to for a lot of our lists, still, this musical is a wonder love story between a man and woman who meet accidentally, dislike each other, at least that’s how it seems, only to realize that they are desperately and completely in love with each other. When Maria is sent to serve as Governess of the Von Trapp children, she is scared because she hasn’t left the abbey since she was fourteen and, there are seven children to take care of.
Captain Von Trapp runs a tight ship on the ocean and at home, only using a whistle resembling those used for dogs to summon his children and employees when he needs them. There is no denying the Captain is a dominating and scary man yet Maria refuses from the onset to answer to a whistle, using the dog analogy.
Of course, the Captain is involved with the Baroness, who grows jealous when she realizes Maria and the Captain are in love. Don’t forget Liesel, who finds a love of her own.
3. Miss Saigon
Next on our list of Valentine must sees is a story based on the Puccini opera Madama Butterfly, this story follows Kim, a Vietnamese girl and Chris, the American soldier she falls in love with. The couple meets at a bar and they spend time together, vowing their love. Yet, when United States chooses to evacuate Vietnam after the war is over, the chaotic scene separates the couple and Chris is sent back to the States, leaving Kim behind.
Kim gives birth to their son and waits for him to come back for her, not knowing, as time goes by, Chris falls in love with an American woman and gets married. Kim’s brother begs her to marry before it’s too late but she refuses and, as the story continues, we learn that there are no loves as tragic as the unrequited love.
4. Tristan and Isolde
Written by Wagner, this opera surrounds Isolde, an Irish Princess, who is promised to King Marke, who sends his nephew Tristan to retrieve his bride-to-be and escort her to Cornwall. Despite her opposition, Isolde and her servant Brangäne board Tristan’s ship and set sail for her new husband and life.
We learn though, that her anger toward Tristan is not only for taking her against her will, but because he murdered her fiancé years earlier. Little does Isolde know that the draw of her loves murderer will overpower her hatred for him.
5. The Phantom of the Opera
This love story happens in one of the creepiest ways. Christine is a young opera singer who is just beginning her career with the Opéra Populaire. She becomes acquainted with a phantom that lives in the tunnels under the opera house. He trains her and falls in love with her as well, so when a prop plummets to the stage the cast begins to fear the phantom and the lead soprano quits.
Christine is placed in the lead role and she quickly becomes a star. She meets Raoul and they fall in love, which sparks jealousy in the Phantom. Still, Raoul and Christine get engaged and when the Phantom finds out there is hell to pay.
This Verdi opera is the tragic tale of an Ethiopian princess who is captured by the Egyptians, yet they think she is a commoner and they enslave her. On the ship, back to Egypt, she falls in love with Radamès, a captain in the Egyptian forces. He falls in love with her as well yet, upon his return to Egypt, the King is so grateful he bestows him with marriage to his daughter Amneris.
Amneris loves Radamès as well, so when she finds out that Aida and the warrior are in love she pretends to be Aida’s friend while Radamès leads another battle against the Ethiopians. This is the only story on our lists where the female lead must choose between loyalty to her land or to her love.
This musical, starring Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan, and the ever-charming Maurice Chevalier. Powerhouse singer or opera, Hermione Gingold, plays Gigi’s grandmother Mamita. Gigi is a young, contemptuous girl who is fighting the pressure from her grandmother and her aunt to grow up as a lady.
Gigi’s favorite person is Gaston Lachaille, a wealthy playboy who is constantly in the tabloids for rejecting ladies. One even went as far as to commit suicide. Gaston is an old family friend and enjoys playing cards with Gigi and eating Mamita’s cassoulet.
Gaston is bored with the rich life and is looking for something more, and then he sees Gigi in a grown-up dress and realizes she isn’t a funny little child anymore. When he makes a deal with Gigi’s grandmother to “court” her, which mean his girlfriend with an apartment Gigi grows upset because she doesn’t want to become another tabloid headline.
8. West Side Story
This love story was inspired by the first in line in today’s post. Tony and Maria are as opposite as can be. His is white and a former member of their gang the Jets, while Maria’s brother is head of the Puerto Rican gang the Sharks. The two have an ongoing rivalry so, even though the pair fall helplessly in love at first sight, their standing in their communities somewhat prohibits their love.
Yet, we all know that love is a strong drive, which is why we are writing this list to begin with. Tony and Maria find it impossible to stay away from each other, but, just as the original tale told, unwanted fights and murders add a heavier weight to their star-crossed love than just opposing gangs.
This one doesn’t end the same way as the first tale written by Shakespeare but, if you are one of the few people who haven’t seen this musical then we’ll just say grab the tissues. Who are we kidding? It could be the millionth time we’ve watched it; we still need the tissues.
How about a comic opera to watch with your loved one? Watch Donizetti’s L’elisir D’Amore tonight!