Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...
In the 1966 episode "The Producer," our favorite castaways received an unexpected island visit from Harold Hecuba (played by Phil Silvers). Hecuba crash-landed on the island and refused to contact his off-shore boat until he had something to produce on Broadway. Ginger, of course, wanted to audition for him and, long story short, the team put together their own musical using what they could find on the island, including the script to Shakespeare's Hamlet and some of the Howell's opera records. One of these records just happened to be Carmen (instrumental only - how handy).
Unfortunately, due to YouTube controls for these particular videos I can't embed them right here, but you really should follow these links and enjoy:
Hamlet (Gilligan)'s "To Be or Not To Be" to the tune of Carmen's Habanera
I ask to be or not to be
A rogue or peasant slave is what you see
A boy who loved his mother’s knee
And so I ask to be or not to be
So here’s my plea, I beg of you
And say you see a little hope for me
To fight or flee, to fight or flee
I ask myself to be or not to be
There's also Ophelia (Ginger) singing to the tune of The Tales of Hoffman's Barcarolle and then our final Carmen treat: Polonius's advice to Laertes (The Skipper to Mary Ann) to Toreador
Neither a borrower nor a lender be
Do not forget: Stay out of debt
Think twice, and take this good advice from me
Guard that old solvency
There’s just one other thing you ought to do
To thine own self be true
In addition to Carmen, it appears there may be a connection between Gilligan's Island and another one of our operas this summer, The Seven Deadly Sins. There is conflicting evidence on the internet - I know, I wasn't surprised either - as to whether TV writer Sherwood Schwartz has admitted or denied what several fans believe is true: each castaway character represents one of the Biblical Seven Deadly Sins. There are several versions out there explaining which character represents which sin. Gilligan himself is sometimes given the role of sloth, but sometimes is actually seen as the Devil himself, thwarting everyone's plans to get off the island in their own version of Hell. When you get a chance, watch an episode again and see who you think might represent each sin (sloth, pride, wrath, gluttony, lust, greed or envy).
The Seven Deadly Sins just happens to be part of our "Triple Bill "of one-act operas (with Gianni Schicchi and The Breasts of Tiresias) opening next Saturday, July 9. With preliminary timings coming in at under an hour for each of them, you certainly DON'T have to commit to a "three-hour tour" if you just want to see one of them. Of course, we recommend all three! You can also combine The Seven Deadly Sins with our SinFest option, a multiple arts genre event focusing on all of your favorite sins, combining opera with visual arts, dance, food, wine and more.
For more fun uses of opera in pop culture settings, follow our "Where Have I Heard That?" blog series.