The Bluffer's Briefing on: Opera

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The Independent Online
Derivation: plural of opus, full title is opera in musica.

Why it is called Covent Garden: The original site in Bow Street was a convent garden.

Opera singers who have swallowed their false moustaches during a performance: Jan Verbeek at the Casino Theatre, Vichy in 1955 (in act 2 of Boito's Mefistofele); Walter Midgeley (Covent Garden, 1953, Verdi, Rigoletto).

Most important date: 27 January (Mozart born 1756; Verdi died 1901).

What opera buffs talk about in the interval: The world shortage of tenors.

Fee for one night's performance by Placido Domingo: Offers in the region of pounds 10,000.

Fee for one night's performance by Luciano Pavarotti: Much the same, or one racehorse.

Luciano Pavarotti's weight (after diet): 18.5 stone.

Pavarotti's nickname among opera press: Fat Lucy.

Mark Twain's description of Wagner's music: Better than it sounds.

Something you didn't know about Richard Wagner: He wore pink underwear.

And Giacomo Puccini: His wife put bromide in his coffee and soaked his trousers in camphor when attractive women came to dinner.

Why Giuseppe Verdi was turned down by the Milan Conservatorium in 1832: Lack of musical ability and being too scruffily dressed.