On Sunday evening, millions of Americans tuned in to the MTV Video Music Awards. They were treated to a show that included, among other things, Lady Gaga’s butt and Miley Cyrus twerking on Beetlejuice. Freakout ensued. Then came this pseudo-defense of Miley.
But shocking and sexually suggestive performances on stage have been around for centuries. Below are 7 Operas That Make The VMAs Seem Chaste. There are more, but these are the magnificent seven that I have chosen.
1. Mozart: Don Giovanni
High-level psychoanalysis aside, Don likes to get it on. He humps everything that moves and has bedded 2,065 different women from Germany to Spain to Turkey and beyond. Side note: he doesn’t care how skinny you are, how old you are, or what color your hair is. He just wants to sleep with you.
2. Thomas Adès: Powder Her Face
3. Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District
One of the reasons it got Shostakovich into trouble with the Soviet authorities was its explicit sex scenes. (Link NSFW.) A 1935 review in the New York Sun called it “pornophony.”
4. Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea
5. Berg: Lulu
6. Wagner: Tannhäuser
The first 20-30 minutes are an orgy. ‘Nuff said. (By the way, opera directors have been known take this one too far.)
7. Richard Strauss: Salome
Oh, there’s a striptease all right, but not just any old striptease: an incestuous striptease. Like instead of Miley grinding up against Robin Thicke…well, never mind. Also, Salome makes out with a severed head.