Daphne/Jerry: But you don’t understand, Osgood! [Whips off his wig, exasperated, and changes to a manly voice] Uhhh, I’m a man!
Osgood: [Looks at him then turns back, unperturbed] Well, nobody’s perfect!
Of course, Some Like it Hot is a movie, but its famous last words serve as a preface for some of opera’s last lines. Below are a few.
Rigoletto is undone by his overly solicitous parenting which is also his only virtue. He attributes the death of his daughter, perhaps opera’s most simple-minded teenager, to the curse hurled his way by Monterone in the first act. Hence the final cry of La maledizione – the curse. Rigoletto conclusion
Verdi got himself into a plot hole at the end of Don Carlos. He had to invoke the shade of the Emperor Charles V to end the show. He (the emperor) takes Carlos from the clutches of the Grand Inquisitor and King Philip and the opera ends lamely.
Yes, for ever!
There must be a double sacrifice!
I shall do my duty.
will also do its duty!
to the members of the Inquisition, indicating Don Carlos
Ah! God will avenge me,
this tribunal of blood will be crushed by his hand! …
Don Carlos, defending himself, backs towards the tomb of Charles V. The grille opens, the Monk appears and draws Don Carlos into his embrace, covering him with his cloak.
CHARLES V (MONK)
My son, the sorrows of the earth
follow us even in this place.
The peace for which your heart hopes
is found only in God!
The voice of the Emperor!
It is Charles V!
The Monk drags the fainting Don Carlos into the cloister.
Arrigo Boito wrote the florid libretto for Ponchielli’s La Gioconda. Judging its literary worth, or rather the lack of literary merit, he put and acrostic of his name on the piece – Tobia Gorrio. Barnaba, the mustache twirling villain of the work arranges for the tenor’s release from prison in exchange for Gioconda’s sexual favors. Of course, she prefers death to the embrace of a baritone. and fatally stabs herself before Barnaba can even touch her. In a frustrated rage he snarls at her corpse, “Last night your mother offended me. I drowned her!” When that gets no response, he emits a strangled sound and rushes away ready for more mayhem after catching the last gondola of the night.
Another teenager – this one deranged – is Strauss’ Salome. She has to cut off the head of John the Baptist in order to kiss him. At the opera’s end she’s wandering around the stage in an erotic daze bragging about the fatal kiss when the terminally depraved Herod finds even he has a limit. He orders her killed. Man töte dieses Weib (Kill this woman). The soldiers crush her with their shields.
Strauss’ other one act atomic bomb Elektra ends with the revenge crazed title character dancing herself to death. He essentially normal sister Chrysothemis, by an admittedly unhinged frame of references, can only call out for her matricidal brother – twice. Orest.
Gounod’s Faust ends with Mephistopheles condemning Maguerite – “Judged.” But he’s overruled by an angelic choir who declare her “Saved.” They go on a bit, but salvation is the message.
The last words of Bizet’s Carmen are known to almost anyone who’s been to an opera house. “Ah! Carmen! ma Carmen adorée!” I don’t think a jury would buy it as an excuse for murder, but it moves the audience.
Another Frech opera that brings down the house at its conclusion is Saint-Saëns Samson et Dalila. Samson blinded and a captive of the Philistines prays for one last charge of strength and pulls down the temple of his tormentors.
(SAMSON, placed between the pillars, struggles to
pull them down.)
Bethink thee of .thy servant, Lord !
Deprived of light, despised, abused ;
Grant that, a moment, at thy word,
My pristine vigor be restored,
That I once more may it employ
And all this rabble rout, destroy.
(The temple falls amid loud cries.)
The last words of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci have been often appropriated by the tenor. They are, however, written for the baritone who sings the prologue and thus should close the opera as he was the figure who opened it. In this recording, Leonard Warren speaks “La commedia è finita!!” – “The comedy is finished!”
Puccini ends two operas in identical fashion. The tenor calls the dead sopranos name. In La Bohème the name gets two iterations. Mimì – Mimì. Madama Butterfly ends with the tenor calling Butterfly three times.
Tosca, of course has perhaps the greatest last line in opera. After her lover has been executed she throws herself off of the parapet of the Castel Sant’Angelo crying “O Scarpia, avanti a Dio!” (“O Scarpia, we meet before God!”)
In Il Tabarro, Puccini’s Grand Guignol one act opera, Michele kills his wife’s lover Luigi and wraps him in his cloak. His wife appears and he opens the cloak to reveal the corpse.
approaching Michele slowly, looking about anxiously
I’m filled with remorse
for causing you to suffer.
It’s nothing; it’s your nerves.
That’s it; you’re right.
Tell me I’m forgiven.
Don’t you want me closer?
Where? Inside my cloak?
Yes, that close.
Yes. You once said to me,
“Everyone wears a cloak
that sometimes hides happiness,
sometimes something sad” –
And sometimes a crime!
Come to my cloak!
He opens his cloak, letting the body of Luigi fall at her feet.
Michele takes hold of her, forces her to the floor and presses her against the face of her dead lover.
Puccini’s one act comedy Gianni Schicchi is a masterpiece reminiscent in both style and quality of Verdi’s Falstaff. After Schicchi has stolen the estate of Buoso Donati and driven all the dead man’s greedy relatives away, he turns to the audience and makes a brief speech.
Tell me, ladies and gentlemen, if Buoso’s money
could have had a better end than this.
For this prank they sent me to hell, and so be it;
but, with the permission of the great father Dante,
if you’ve been entertained this evening, allow me
(He claps his hands.)
Last words, whether of art or life are typically of interest. if I’ve omitted a favorite add it to the comment section.