Category: opera baby names
By Zeffy, Baby Names from Yesteryear
George Frideric Handel, born in 1685, is considered to be one of the most accomplished opera composers in history. Handel was German born but it was in England where he made his fortune and fame. He tapped into the English aristocracy’s obsession with all things Italian by creating beautiful, intricate Italian operas, and it’s his operas that show his talent for naming characters. I don’t know how many of the names below are actually usable, but they’re fun and so name-nerdy yummy.
Alceste – From the 1727 opera Admeto, this is the Italian form of the Greek mythological name Alcestis. Its possible meaning is ‘valiant, courageous’. Alceste is also the title of a mini-opera by Handel.
The character names to be found in the comical, light operas of Gilbert & Sullivan, for the most part, represent names that Victorian society either found to be fancifully appealing (as in the fairy names from Iolanthe) or absurdly amusing (as in the faux Japanese names from The Mikado). By comparison, some G&S character names may seem a bit mundane to us.
But viewing a rousing performance of The Pirates of Penzance could do much to redeem such names, as one finds oneself charmed by the dutiful and beautiful Mabel, or one cheers the “piratical maid of all work,” Ruth, who is later transformed into a feminist swashbuckler in her own right.
You don’t have to be an opera buff to appreciate the rich variety of names found in the classic repertoire. It’s an especially appealing category because it contains such an interesting mix of languages: there are frilly French female names, unusual Italian mens’ names, as well as some usable German and Russian character names. These range from leads such as Aida and Tristan, to featured players to those with minor roles.