Pop Culture Operas

Ransom Riggs

Admittedly, I'm not a big opera fan. But if more operas were like these, I might be. I thought all operas -- heck, to even be called an opera -- had to be in German or Italian and involve hyper-dramatic and sort of arcane subject matter. Though come to think of it, The Jerry Springer Opera couldn't be more hyper-dramatic. Yes, the Jerry Springer Opera. Every word of Jerry Springer: the Opera is sung, except for some dialogue from Jerry himself, and it features tap-dancing Klan members, immense amounts of profanity, and its mere broadcast on British television led to record numbers of complaints against the BBC (some 55,000) and protests in the streets by religious organizations. Asked about the controversy surrounding his show in an interview for the Observer, its director said:

If you have been on the verge of becoming a millionaire and that has not happened because of far-right pressure groups, and your work has been banned and taken apart, and you've been threatened with prosecution, and the police have advised people involved with your production to go into hiding, and bed and breakfasts won't have the cast to stay because they're blasphemers, and you have to cross a BNP picket line to go to work in Plymouth, you do start to think, well, what can be worse that that?

Wow! Now are you interested? If so, check out this now-legendary scene, in which Satan and Jesus face off on Jerry's stage with the longest NSFW word in opera history -- and it's actually some very impressive singing.

If you liked that, get ready for Anna Nicole: the Opera, about late Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith, which hits the stage next February. I think we may be about to witness the birth of a new generation of opera-lovers!