Music to murder by…

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Question Results

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Question:

Name the eponymous character who's responsible for bringing Baron Scarpia to a bloody end in an opera from 1900.

Response:

Lucia di Lammermoor

Don Giovanni

Tosca

Feedback:

Correct! In Puccini's opera of the same name she kills the evil Baron Scarpia who has imprisoned and tortured her lover, Mario Cavaradossi

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Question:

And, in turn, the heroine of which opera premiered in 1937 meets her fate at the hands of Jack the Ripper? 

Response:

Lulu in Berg's 'Lulu

Polly Peachum in Weill's 'The Threepenny Opera'

Feedback:

It's Lulu, premiered in the UK in 1962. Berg's heroine is just one of the many characters to die or be killed in this rather gruesome operas

Anne Trulove in Stravinsky's 'The Rake's Progress'

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Question:

Which composer infamously stabbed his wife and her lover, the Duke of Andria, to death after catching them in flagrante delicto in 1590?

Response:

Palestrina

Gombert

Gesualdo

Feedback:

Correct! But because he was from noble stock – and this being Renaissance Italy – Gesualdo went relatively unpunished…

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Question:

A sinister theme on which instrument precedes Desdemona's murder in Verdi's Otello

Response:

Double bass

Bassoon

Feedback:

It's the double bass. The theme leads into the opera's final, tragic scene in which the jealous Otello murders his innocent wife before killing himself

Trumpet

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Question:

Trained as a musician, which author found performing too nerve-wracking, so turned to writing murder mysteries instead? 

Response:

Ruth Rendall

Agatha Christie

Feedback:

Correct! Christie received training as a singer and concert pianist in Paris but stage-fright got the better of her.

Dorothy L Sayers

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Question:

In Twilight of the Gods (1993), which fictional-turned-TV detective investigates the murder of Welsh opera singer Gladys Probert? 

Response:

Miss Marple

Inspector Montalbano

Inspector Morse

Feedback:

Correct! Morse who was played in the TV series by actor John Thaw

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Question:

In which opera of 1934, which puts its own composer's life at risk, does Katerina bump off her father-in-law with poisonous mushrooms before helping her lover to strangle her husband with a belt?

Response:

The Love for Three Oranges by Prokofiev

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District by Shostakovich

Feedback:

Correct! Shostakovich's opera was widely performed in the Soviet Union but two years after its premiere an editorial appeared in the Russian newspaper 'Pravda' denouncing the opera and the work was withdrawn until the 1960s

Un ballo in maschera by Verdi

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Question:

Who, in 1703, got into a duel with fellow composer Johann Mattheson but was saved when the latter's sword broke on his button? 

Response:

JS Bach

Purcell

Handel

Feedback:

Correct! The dispute apparently came about because Handel refused to give up his seat to Mattheson at a performance of Mattheson's opera 'Cleopatra'

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Question:

Whose 1943 arrangement of Somerset folksong 'Little Sir William' tells of the fate of a murdered schoolboy?

Response:

Tippett

Feedback:

It's Britten. The song reveals that poor Little Sir William was stabbed by the school mistress: 'How can I pity your weep, mother/ And I so long in pain?/ For the little penknife/ Sticks close to my heart/ And the School Wife hath me slain.'

Vaughan Williams

Britten

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Question:

Which famous songwriter, played by Jeremy Northam, is seen jauntily entertaining guests at the piano while the murder of William McCordle is investigated in the 2001 film, Gosford Park?

Response:

Ivor Novello

Feedback:

Correct! Here's the clip

Cole Porter

George Gershwin