3 Things Opera and the Olympics Have in Common

Back in 1984, Los Angeles hosted the Olympics Arts Festival. During the Los Angeles Olympics, the Opera Association co-produced three operas with London’s Royal Opera (Turandot, starring Domingo as Calaf, as well as Peter Grimes and The Magic Flute), which not only helped establish the city as an international arts destination, but also helped raise funds for the soon-to-rise opera company.

So, you could say, LA Opera was born out of the Olympics.

We’re thinking about this history as we prepare to watch tonight’s opening ceremony for the Rio Olympics. But, we’re also thinking of some of the things opera and the Olympics have in common.

Opera Singers

The 1984 Olympics is not the only time that opera and the Olympics have collided. Throughout the years, many famous opera singers have sung at various summer and winter olympics, including Plácido Domingo. Remember when he sang alongside Song Zuying in Beijing in 2008?

Plácido Domingo and Song Zuying at the Beijing Olympics (2008)

Plácido Domingo and Song Zuying at the Beijing Olympics (2008)


Everyone recognizes the symbol of the Olympics – those five different colored rings. In opera, we have four rings instead of five, namely the four operas that make up Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle, the most famous string of operas in history.

 It Takes A Village To Produce

While you might think that opera is just a show, the complexities of staging an opera are – dare we say – somewhat Olympian. Like the Olympics, planning for an opera (especially for a new production) begins as many as five years in advance. Throughout those years and until opening night, hundreds of artistic leaders, administrators, designers, directors, and singers are involved in creating a show. Take a look behind-the-scenes and see what it takes to stage a quick act change, build a set, or update costume.

Did we miss any similarities? Share with us below.

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