5 Things You Didn’t Know About Opera (part 2)

This story is part of a series of 50 stories we are releasing to commemorate 50 years of opera in West Michigan. Browse more stories and follow our journey throughout the season.


‘Here Comes the Bride’s’ contradictory operatic origins, how opera helped Jackie Chan learn martial arts, and other interesting facts you probably don’t know.

Opera has a rich 400-year legacy. It’s no wonder it’s picked up a few entertaining stories along the way. We’ve collected some of our favorites below. Stay tuned. There will be more to come!


Richard Wager yelled “Bravo!” at a performance of his own opera.

Wanting to maintain the serious mood of his opera, Parsifal, Wagner announced that the cast would only take a curtain call at the end of the performance, confusing the audience, who remained silent throughout. With no applause from the audience, Wagner cried “Bravo!” at the end of the second act, only to be hissed at by other members of the audience. Learn more.



Jackie Chan is a classically trained opera singer.

Chan was enrolled at the Chinese Opera Research Institute at the age of seven, where he spent a decade training for the Peking Opera. It was there that he learned martial arts and acrobatics for entertainment. Before his successful career in acting, Chan was a successful singer in Asia, with numerous albums to his credit. Watch his music videos.





Antonio Salieri is rumored to have confessed to murdering his rival, Mozart.

Before his own death in 1825, rival to Mozart Antonio Salieri is rumored to have confessed to murdering Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 34 years prior, whose death has attracted much research and speculation. According to contemporary reports, Salieri claimed responsibility for Mozart’s death, but, suffering from dementia in his later years, always denied it in his lucid moments. Learn more on the theories of Mozart’s death.



Except for the now famous overture, Gioachino Rossini composed The Barber of Seville in just three weeks.

Known as Italian opera’s comic genius and the leading opera composer of the first half of the 19th century, Gioachino Rossini was nicknamed “The Italian Mozart” for good reason. Born to a musical family – his father a trumpet player, his mother an opera singer – Rossini mastered composition at an early age, writing his first opera at age eight and becoming a national celebrity by the time he was 21.

Between 1808 and 1829, Rossini composed no fewer than 40 operas. With the exception of the now famous overture, Rossini composed The Barber of Seville in just shy of three-weeks’ time. Learn more.



The famous march ‘Here Comes the Bride’ is from an opera where the marriage is a failure, and the piece is sung just before several wedding guests are murdered.

Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin introduced the world to the well-known Bridal Chorus. Taking the song in context, however, and it may not be the bridal processional music of choice. Though a Romantic opera, the story centers around a marriage that is doomed from the start, gets bloody, and does not end happily ever after. Learn more about the opera.


OUR FOUNDERS HAD A BOLD PROPOSITION: to build a professional opera company that would put Grand Rapids on the map for a very discerning audience. 50 years later, we are humbled to be the modern bearers of classical standards and modern ingenuity. Learn more.



As an integral part of our city’s artistic fabric, it’s our responsibility to see to its continual flourishing. Please consider donating to Opera Grand Rapids to ensure our artistic excellence for the next 50 years and beyond. You’ve already made us great. With your support, there’s no limits to the height our voices can reach together. Give today.