This opera is rated ‘R’

Based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and Rated R for sexuality, nudity and drug reference, Frida, Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s biopic opera, is Florida Grand Opera’s next offering a week from now.

Is there any opera you would rate ‘X’?


Elektra? Salome? Billy Budd?…



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  • Awful narcissistic painter, using her disability to get as much attention as possible.

    Rodriguez is a good composer, so why a subject with sex, nudity and drugs – as if there is not already enough of that in public space? May as a reassurance the opera is ‘really’ contemporary, to compensate for his ‘oldfashioned’ idiom?

    Or maybe the female approach towards art is considered something not sufficiently celebrated?

    But Rodriguez can be serious too:

      • Maybe that was the beginning of the problem, he may have given her some advice, or the experience was so disruptive that she had to believe she could paint.

    • A narcissistic painter! Never would a Dutch person be such a thing. Apart from Rembrandt, and Van Gogh, and the Toroops, and…

      • Forgetting narcissistic for a moment, it’s enough to notice that Kahlo is simply a bad painter. Her work is banal, predictable, amateurishly executed, the subject matter monotonous, yet it carries with it an easy narrative of martyrdom and cheap self-pity easily marketed to masses of people who don’t know anything about art. Her self-portraits are a tiresome cliché, maudlin cult-of-personality Kitsch, not artistically more interesting than the offerings of Thomas Kinkade and in fact slightly less well executed.

        A much more interesting Mexican painter in the same vein would be, for instance, Maria Izquierdo. But of course she doesn’t have the patina of Christlike suffering that makes Kahlo so easy to sell.

    • Yet we still speak of Frida Kahlo 65 years after her death. You (or “Harrumph”) should be so lucky even during your lifetime.

      • I was waiting for someone to trot out the argumentum ad populum canard.

        Congratulations! You’ve made a fatuous statement which argues nothing. The world is full of people with low taste, and it’s shockingly easy to peddle mediocre schlock to them. Mediocre schlock will ALWAYS be more popular than quality.

        Frida Kahlo is the Taco Bell of painters. As long as people have a taste for garbage, she will always be peddled.

      • To be talked about does not mean to be respected or appreciated. There are still people talking about Hitler.

      • But it may force the librettist to come up with something interesting, like something psychological.

  • As in classic theater, nudity should be avoided, because it takes the audience off the character and the quality of the singing. And people don’t need to see a couple in bed to know they are romantically involved. I wish sometimes this was followed in movies. As Groucho said, “if it doesn’t involve me, I’m not interested.”

  • “The trouble with nude dancing is that not everything stops when the music stops.”

    — Dancer/choreographer/actor Robert Helpmann, asked for a reaction after seeing “Oh! Calcutta!”

  • The sexualization of opera is utterly disgusting. It is a crime against the art, a crime against the poor singers. Shame on anyone who produces an opera with nudity, live sex, etc. Simulation is so much more dramatic. A penis cannot act.

  • I have underage children and nudity in itself is the least of my concerns. But all the violence, blood and generally the onstage focus on humans’ worst instincts is always a deal breaker. So is Regietheater’s change of context, with all the references that go over the childrens’ heads, though the may not be a bad thing.

  • The rating may depend on the production, but Stewart Wallace’s “Hopper’s Wife” would probably rate an R for the Ava Gardner character singing a whole aria in the buff, and Thomas Adès’ “Powder Her Face” could get an X (NC-17 here in the US) for, well, you know…

    Long Beach Opera (California) mounted both of these in the ’90s as well as “Frida” two or three years ago.

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