Classical music videos that work

Classical music has been lamely mimicking the mainstream but every now and again someone does something amazing.

Classical music-videos have made an attempt to be relevant for years.

When they mimic pop videos, it’s annoying. Who wants to see a close up of an opera singer lip syncing? Not I.

The videos of complete performances are effective but that’s an hour or two or four, not three of four minutes.

Hacking an aria out of a complete performance can work but that tends to be a bleeding chunk of music devoid of it’s context and dramatic setting.

What does work, sometimes, is an aria or duet that is set to animation. It helps if the animation represents the entire story of the opera rather than just playing along with the words of the aria.

Both of the clips below are from a French film called Opera Imaginaire.

Here is a music video of un bel di from Madama Butterfly. The plot of the opera is communicated brilliantly by the animation. We see the entire relationship of Pinkerton and Cio Cio San in this single, five minute clip.


The Lakme flower duet has become a popular piece of music, it was even featured in Howard Stern’s biographical movie Private Parts. It has also been used for a British Airways commercial.

Neither of those represented the spirit of the opera Lakme.

Howard Stern was imagining a woman’s boobs growing to enormous proportions as she walked by in the airport. British Airways just showed a bunch of people lying down to sleep in their first-class beds.

The music has nothing to do with airports, airliners or the air industry in general.

The animation in this video captures the magic and mystery of falling in love in India. While the story in the animation doesn't line up with the entire story of the opera, it is an effective interpretation of the atmosphere in Act I of Lakme.



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