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Extra: And the winner is…

Announced today, and below: the winners of #operaplot.

#operaplot, which I’ve described before, is not so much a contest as an international parlor game. Condensing opera plots into 140 characters or less is not unlike coming up with cartoon captions for The New Yorker: it's harder than it looks, and it's all about the punchline. Conceived, and hosted this year for the second time, by The Omniscient Mussel, aka the journalist and blogger Marcia Adair, it ended on Saturday, and the winners are being announced today -- here. There will be an extra, final surprise on "Miss Mussel's" blog on Monday.

The game is really an end in itself, but “Miss Mussel” (whose blog is named after a character in Richard Strauss’s “Aegyptische Helena”) solicited a long list of prize donations from opera houses and record companies. A celebrity judge (this year, the tenor du jour Jonas Kaufmann) selected five winning entries from the thousands that came in, and Adair drew the names at random from a hat to determine the order in which winners could pick their prizes. Opera companies from San Diego to Australia donated tickets; some added restaurant vouchers; and the Opera Theatre Company in Dublin, Ireland threw in three nights’ hotel and up to 1000 Euros to go towards a round-trip flight. There were also CD and DVD packages from Universal Music.

Adair's blog lists the submissions, sorted by opera title; but this for me removes part of the fun, which is trying to guess which opera is being described. Here, then, are the winners listed without the titles; see how many you can identify. (I'll post the answers over the weekend, though I suspect they'll be superfluous since this crowd will guess them in pretty short order.)
(read winning entries after the jump)

The winners:

Father is less than enthusiastic about son¹s love affair with aging, bankrupt, terminally ill prostitute. Can you believe it?
-- Sam Neuman, a publicist in New York, who chose the Ireland trip.

Married girl in search of a good time accidentally causes moral collapse of Rome, influx of campy tenor nurses.
-- Lattavanti, aka Micaela Attavani Baranello, a graduate student at Princeton, who chose a CD set of Solti's classic "Ring" cycle recording.

So I wrote this guy this EPIC love letter & he's like "No thanks", but now I'm married & rich & he's all "OMG I LURV U!!" WTF?
-- FunWithIago, aka Daniel John Kelley, a playwright in New York, who chose a CD set called “Great Operas from Bayreuth.”

You'd think after so many years of planning double murders she'd remember the axe. Instead, she dances with it and drops dead.
--BryanImmLawyer, a.k.a. Bryan Johnson, an immigration lawyer in New York, who chose two tickets to the Edmonton Opera and is giving them to his mother for Mother’s Day.

Idealistic poets take note: apparently "I wish to end economic injustice" sounds a lot like "just go ahead and kill me" in french
-- MusicBizKid, a.k.a. James Harrington, a singer and music copyist in Nashville, one of last year’s winners; this year, he picked tickets to the Atlanta Opera.

The runners-up:

Sorry 2 drop this on u babe, but I¹m *technically* still married to a
suicidal 16 y/o geishaŠ & turns out she had my kid. Oops?
-- JGulden, a.k.a. Josiah Gulden, from Eden Prairie, MN.

Greek musician goes to hell and back. Wife only makes it halfway.
-- Ralph Graves, an announcer at WTJU in Charlottesville, VA.

Kissed the girls and made them cry.Stabbed one¹s dad and watched him
die.Offered chances to repent,he opted to be Hades sent. Men!
--Stephen Llewellyn, a lawyer in Portland, Oregon who was responsible for last year's fairy-tale #operaplot ending when he donated his prize -- tickets to the Washington National Opera and the annual Opera Ball -- to Priscilla Barrow, a music educator in the DC schools. Barrow and her husband hobnobbed with Plácido Domingo, Aretha Franklin, and WNO president Ken Feinberg, and a great time was had by all. Curiously, WNO wasn't among the prize donors this year.

In addition, Decca stepped up with a few more CDs for honorable mentions, and some of the opera companies offered special prizes to #operaplots relating to their current or upcoming seasons. (Among my favorites was Thos. Carpenter's: "A cautionary take for serial rapists everywhere: never invite a walking, talking statue from hell to a dinner party.")

(For a further challenge, turn to Adair's "Orphans" page with a few plots she wasn't able to identify. One appears to be "Andrea Chenier"; another, "Mahagonny.")

Even those to whom Twitter is anathema must admit that it's pretty wonderful to see it serve as a forum for thousands of people sharing their love and insider knowledge of opera, intensely, for a solid week. Tune in next year to see Llewellyn go for a third victory.

By Anne Midgette  |  May 7, 2010; 7:15 AM ET
Categories:  news , opera  
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Next: Little things mean a lot


I'm one of the winners and my name is wrong, it's actually Micaela Baranello. "Attavanti" is merely a Tosca joke!

Posted by: MicaelaB | May 7, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Micaela. Your name was given to me as "Attavani," so I thought you had slightly changed it to make yourself "L'Attavanti." (Got the joke, though.)

Posted by: Anne Midgette | May 7, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Great minds think alike.

In response to Ms. Mussel's public request ("Should I spend some time finding a better way to identify the plots [of #operaplot entries]?"), I wrote in an eMail response to her:

"Yes. Don't do it at all. Half the fun of something like #operaplot is trying
to *guess* which opera is being plotted, with the mystery resolved only
after the winners are decided....

"But maybe that's just me."


Posted by: ACDouglas1 | May 7, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Thanks! My mom will be pleased. Though being named Micaela Attavanti would be pretty awesome.

Posted by: MicaelaB | May 7, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Oh dear. And speaking of getting names wrong....

In my above comment, I wrote: "In response to Ms. Mussel's public request...."

That of course should have read: "In response to Miss Mussel's public request...."


Posted by: ACDouglas1 | May 7, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

This contest was a great idea which by dint of huge amounts of hard work has been delightfully manifested by Marcia Adair. I hope every contestant and all who read the entries will join me in congratulating her and saying a big 'Thank you!'

Posted by: spl888 | May 7, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I think the final sentence was meant to say "Tune in next year to see Harrington go for a third victory," rather than Llewellyn. James is quite the champion!

Also notable, Daniel Kelley placed in every piece of this year's competition - the houses that ran side-contests as part of the larger overall competition named him among the winners, with the exception of one, which only named one winner. He essentially scored a hat trick this year ;-)

Posted by: mauralafferty | May 8, 2010 3:03 AM | Report abuse

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