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“Mary Poppins” – Would you rather spend two hours and 20 minutes watching this, or the same amount of time seeing Aida? Your choice.

When you invite your friends to go to see an opera with you, do they whine “Okay, but how LONG will it be?” I’ve had that happen. I usually answer, “It won’t be any longer than that idiotic movie you saw last week, the one with all the Hobbits.”
Okay, I say that. But am I lying or not?  Today, I am going to list some statistics for you to keep on hand so that when people complain that operas are too long, you have some ammunition to reply with.

A Random Selection of Movie Running Times

·         “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” – 1 hour, 35 minutes
·         “Captain America – the Winter Soldier” – 2 hours, 18 minutes
·         “Divergent” – 2 hours, 19 minutes
·         “Gladiator” – 2 hours, 30 minutes
·         “The Godfather” – 2 hours, 58 minutes
·         “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – 2 hours, 33 minutes
·         “Monsters, Inc.” – 1 hour, 33 minutes
·         “Noah” – 2 hours, 12 minutes
·         “The Dark Knight” – 2 hours, 33 minutes
·         “Transformers” – 2 hours, 24 minutes

Some of the Longest Hollywood Movies from the Past

·         “Gone with the Wind” – 3 hours, 54 minutes
·         “Mary Poppins” – 2 hours, 20 minutes
·         “The Sound of Music” – 2 hours, 55 minutes

And Now For Some Operas

I snagged these running times from listings of recordings on Classical Archives. Please note that they do not include intermissions.  But heck, some of the ultra-long movies I listed just above have intermissions too.

Italian and Italian-Language Operas

·         Aida – 2 hours, 20 minutes
·         La Bohème– 1 hour, 45 minutes
·         Don Carlo – about 4 hours, depending on version performed
·         Don Giovanni – 2 hours, 45 minutes
·         Norma – 2 hours, 40 minutes
·         Le Nozze di Figaro – 2 hours, 45 minutes
·         Tosca –2 hours
·         La Traviata – 2 hours
·         Madama Butterfly – 2 hours, 20 minutes

French Operas

·         Carmen– 2 hours, 35 minutes
·         Faust –3 hours, 10 minutes
·         Les Contes d’Hoffmann – 2 hours, 55 minutes
·         Samson et Dalila – 2 hours, 5 minutes

German Operas (Duck! Long Operas in Here)

A couple of relative lightweights . . .

·         Der Frieschütz – 2 hours
·         Die Zauberflöte – 2 hours, 30 minutes

And the operas of Wagner, the king of “long” . . .

·         Die Meistersinger – 4 hours
·         Der Fliegende Höllander – 2 hours, 15 minutes
·         Lohengrin– 3 hours, 40 minutes
·         Das Rheingold – 2 hours, 25 minutes
·         Die Walküre – 3 hours, 50 minutes
·         Siegfried – 3 hours 45 minutes
·         Götterdämmerung– 4 hours, 30 minutes

Load Your Guns, People!

The next time you invite a friend to see an opera with you, or maybe your own kid, I hope you’ll find just the ammo you need above. You can say, “But La Bohème is actually 45 minutes shorter than `Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.’”

You could say that, yes you could. You could also put forth a harder argument that Aida or The Magic Flute is going to be tons better than a lamentable slog like “The Sound of Music.”  Maybe if you get your friends or kids to go to an opera with you, they will discover that reality for themselves.