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More strange uses of opera in commercials

In writing my last blog post, I asked around for examples of inappropriate uses of opera in film, TV, and commercial scores. So many people sent me cringe-worthy examples after I had already posted that I just had to do a follow-up. Commercials seem to be the most spectacularly awful. Here are some of the worst.

Kellogg’s Rice Crispies did a “Great Moments at Breakfast” series of opera commercials in 1969. I’ll let you decide which is worse: the “Un bel dì vedremo” rewrite, or the “Vesti la giubba” rewrite. My vote is for “Un bel dì vedremo,” because the whole rice-Japan-chopsticks-Butterfly connection seems tenuous and vaguely racist. Also, the new English lyrics for “Vesti la giubba” flow pretty well, while the cereal-themed words for “Un bel dì vedremo” strike me as very awkward. (Thanks to @MusicologyDuck for this suggestion.)

In the words of @jdoughsf: “Nothing like the death of a tortured woman to celebrate getting your car battery jumped.” The moment of opera is brief, but spectacularly out of place.

Did you know that everyday people with allergies are secretly toreadors? It’s the only explanation for the alarmingly cheery music from Carmen that underscores this allergy medicine commercial. I get that the commercial is trying to be upbeat, but mostly we’re just watching people fail at life in various ways. Which, to this music, makes me think of toreadors failing. Which is a bloody and unpleasant picture and definitely not what Claritin was going for. (Thanks to @jdoughsf for this one, too!)

You know what’s cool and refreshing? Valkyries, riding their steeds. Whoever designed this ad was probably thinking “epic” rather than “cool and refreshing,” but I just don’t get it. Wagner as overdramatic background music for a cannonball, in order to sell a summer beverage? (Thanks to @ThatSopranoChic.)

I hate so much about this next commercial. I hate that the project name was “Rhapsody in Red.” I hate the visual of opera singing smashing a tomato. I hate that Rigoletto is the background music for a tomato paste commercial. The theory seems to be that it fits the tagline of “100% concentrated passion,” because opera is passionate. But “La donna è mobile” is not actually a passionate bit of opera. It’s a casual song sung by a jerk who doesn’t care for anyone but himself. Sure, it’s catchy, but commercial agencies: it does not mean what you think it means. Oh, and it’s full of misogynistic lyrics. They make sense sung by the Duke in context, but are they really what you want to advertise your product with? (Thanks to @Aspasia_1.)

This last one is maybe the best. That is, the worst. “O mio babbino caro” is a pleading aria sung by a spoiled young girl in love who insists on having her own way. Grand Theft Auto is… well, I’ve never actually played Grand Theft Auto, but I don’t think “spoiled young girl” is something that fits their brand. As is clear from this 2001 commercial, the aria certainly doesn’t match the mood of the game. (The mid-aria cut is also glaring and badly done.) That said, there’s a definite novelty to punctuating Lauretta’s cajoling with tire screeches and gunshots. (Thanks to @mattmarks.)

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