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I guessed there'd be quite a few Wagner suggestions, so let me give a few Verdi ones.

The intro to Act I of Simon Boccangera leading to Amelia's Come in quest'ora bruna, which is a wonderful evocation of sunlight on the sea.

The mysterious intro to Lady Macbeth's Sleepwalking Scene

The wonderfully melancholic opening to Act IV scene i of Don Carlos which leads in to King Philip's Ella giammai m'amo
 

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For smartest opera character, I'm going to go with Rodrigo from Don Carlo. He knows how to keep royals from going hysterical, knows how to flirt, knows how to deliver secret messages, and knows how to talk smack to a king.
Still gets himself killed though!
 

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But ah, he wanted to get killed! Who's smarter now???
Well it's arguable whether that makes him smart or noble? Smart to me is someone who cunningly keeps himself out of trouble, and exploits a situation to his own ends. Gianni Schicchi wins hands down! :lol:
 

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I think we could do with more operatic comedies and more Spanish operas so I think Almodovar's Todo sobre mi madre would make a great opera.

From Wikipedia:
"The film grew out of a brief scene in The Flower of My Secret, telling the story of a mourning mother who, after reading the last entry in her dead son's journal about how he wishes to meet his father for the first time, decides to travel to Barcelona in search of the boy's father. She must tell the father that she had their son after she left him many years ago, and that he has now died. Once there, she encounters a number of odd characters - a transsexual prostitute, a pregnant nun, and a lesbian actress - all of whom help her cope with her grief.

The film revisited Almodóvar's familiar themes of the power of sisterhood and of family. Dedicated to Bette Davis, Romy Schneider and Gena Rowlands, All About My Mother is steeped in theatricality, from its backstage setting to its plot, modeled on the works of Federico García Lorca and Tennessee Williams, to the characters' preoccupation with modes of performance.

The comic relief on the film centers on Agrado, a pre-operative transsexual. In one scene, she tells the story of her body and its relationship to plastic surgery and silicone, culminating with a statement of her own philosophy: "you get to be more authentic the more you become like what you have dreamed of yourself".[37]

All About My Mother received more awards and honors than any other film in the Spanish motion picture industry.[38] Its recognition includes an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a Golden Globe in the same category, Best Director Award and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury Award at Cannes;[39] the French Cesar for Best Foreign Film, the Goya Award as best film of the year, best Actress in a Leading Role for Argentine actress Cecilia Roth and a twelfth Annual European Film Award."

N.
I love this movie. I also remember a stage production of it at the Old Vic in London with Diana Rigg as the diva.
 
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