“Achievements, seldom credited to their source, are the result of unspeakable drudgery and worries.” -Richard Wagner
Yesterday on Jeopardy!, this happened:
Wrong, Alex. While the character of Jochanaan IS John the Baptist, the opera in which he appears is most definitely NOT by Richard Wagner. The opera is Salome, which of course is the work of Richard Strauss. Same first name, but the lives of Wagner (1813-1883) and Strauss (1864-1949) barely even overlap.
Naturally, the error went unacknowledged by both the contestant and the man who has all the answers, Alex Trebek.
All this made me wonder: if John the Baptist were to make a cameo in an opera by Richard Wagner, which one would it be? The obvious choice, I think, would be Parsifal simply because of the biblical subject matter. Or maybe Die Meistersinger? Wait, that’ll never work. It’s awfully difficult to compete in singing contests when you’re missing your head.
What about John the Baptist as Lohengrin in LA Opera’s recent production? A knight with a prosthetic leg gets decapitated after telling Elsa his name? Seems like a perfect scenario for our headless hero.
Okay, okay…in the course of hosting 6,300+ episodes of Jeopardy!, mistakes happen and life moves on. But Alex Trebek knows classical music quite well. Back in the day, he even worked with some of my colleagues at KUSC. (Gail Eichenthal and Rich Capparela, to name a couple.) And this is an easy one–a major opera by a major composer. You’d think he would have caught it.
H/T to A Fool in the Forest for inspiring me to video my DVR’ed version of yesterday’s episode of Jeopardy! and write this post.