7/22/2016 – Operatic Foods (w/ Andy Kravis)


Welcome to Five Course Trivia! Five days a week, we’ll post five questions about something from the culinary world, from soup to nuts and all dishes in between.

This week is Guest Week here at FCT, and I’m inviting friends and supporters of the site to craft some of their own questions! To round out the week, we have Andy Kravis, a crossword writer and lawyer living in Brooklyn. He’s also the constructor behind the website Cruciverbalist at LawEverything after this point was written by him. Enjoy!

Given how impractical it is for someone to eat and sing at the same time, not to mention that the opera singer’s delicate instrument can be hammered by certain foods, it’s surprising how often operas call for an on-stage nosh. Here are five questions about operatic feasting:

1. A 2012 Metropolitan Opera production of what Englebert Humperdinck opera saw the Witch tempt the title characters with “apple tarts, meringues, chocolate mousse, Black Forest cake, rice pudding, creamy Swiss rolls and mountains of profiteroles”–all of it real and provided by a local bakery?

Question 1

2. During a May Day scene in Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, some children who are supposed to be practicing a song for the festival are instead distracted by the great feast that surrounds them. As you might expect in a Britten opera, the menu has plenty of traditional English goodies, including “trifle,” “treacle tart,” and “sausagey rolls,” but there’s also a pink one of what sweet, cold, molded dessert made with milk or cream, sugar, and a thickening agent like gelatin or corn starch? Its name comes from the Old French words for “white” and “eat.”

Question 2

3. What Verdi opera begins with the consumption of copious amounts of champagne, during which Alfredo and Violetta sing the famous brindisi “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” (“Drink from the joyful cup”), and ends with a different kind of consumption altogether?

Question 3

4. In Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk District, Katerina murders her lecherous father-in-law by feeding him his favorite food, mushrooms, laced with his least favorite food, rat poison. What Soviet composer, whose 7th Symphony was titled “Leningrad,” wrote the opera Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk District?

Question 4

5. The final scene of what 1787 opera sees Leporello serve his master a feast of pheasant and Marzemino wine? While the voracious title character eats, a group of musicians plays contemporary classics, including a selection from The Marriage of Figaro–an opera by the same composer of this one (#18thCenturyMetaJokes)!

Question 5

Thanks again to Andy for crafting today’s questions! Well, that’ll do it for Guest Week, and once again, I want to thank all five of our guest writers that are now all officially friends-of-the-show. And on Monday, we got back to our regularly scheduled program with yours truly writing the questions. I’m already looking forward to our 3rd Quarterly Guest Week about 3 months from now!


1. Hansel and Gretel
2. Blancmange
3. La traviata
4. Dmitri Shostakovich
5. Don Giovanni

Picture sources:
1. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
2. Wikipedia
3. The Act 1 Brindisi: Diana Damrau as Violetta and Francesco Demuro as Alfredo; © 2014 ROH/Catherine Ashmore
4. screenshot from the 1966 film adaptation Katerina Izmailovahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVbbRQgQalI [46:40]
5. creenshot from “Don Giovanni, Mozart – Losey – GIA’ LA MENSA E’ PREPARATA, L’ ULTIMA PROVA (21),” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppS3hnnHZ6M

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