If Taylor Swift songs were in operas

18 June 2024

Welsh National Opera’s hometown of Cardiff is gearing up to host pop superstar Taylor Swift this evening. Swift’s Eras Tour is an incredible three-and-a-half-hour journey exploring 18 years of musical hits, such as Love Story and Blank Space. With so many songs full of dramatic lyrics about love, loss and heartbreak, it’s hard to believe that Swift’s songs haven’t been lifted straight out of arias sung by our favourite operatic heroines.

As Swift-mania sweeps the Welsh capital, we couldn’t help but wonder which of Taylor Swift songs wouldn’t seem out of place in an opera?

In her song Ivy, Swift sings ‘I'd meet you where the spirit meets the bones, in a faith-forgotten land, in from the snow. Your touch brought forth an incandescent glow, tarnished, but so grandwhich reminds us of the meeting between Rodolfo and Mimì in La bohѐme. The ‘forgotten land’ and ‘snow’ could be the freezing cold conditions in which the lovers live, and the ‘incandescent glow’ as the candle flame that Rodolfo lights for Mimì and the light he sees in her.

In Strauss’s Salome, the title character becomes infatuated with John the Baptist, who is being held prisoner by her stepfather, King Herod. The prophet ignites Salome’s yearning and she is determined to have him. With lyrics from one of Swift’s newest songs exclaiming ‘I just learned these people only raise you to cage you’ and the defiant ‘I'll tell you something right now, I'd rather burn my whole life down’ in response to being told who she can and can’t date, But Daddy, I Love Him! seems to be a fitting song for Salome, who, like Taylor, is expected to be a ‘Dutiful daughter’.

There are many women who could sing our next song; I Knew You Were Trouble is full of lyrics about a man who’s known for loving and leaving which could perfectly apply to opera’s bad boy, Don Giovanni. With lines such as ‘I was in your sights, you got me alone’ and ‘…you never loved me, or her, or anyone, or anything’ this song about a serial womaniser could be sung by all of the women in Mozart’s opera; from Zerlina, a bride-to-be who finds herself alone with Don Giovanni to Donna Elvira who warns others of his wicked ways.

We couldn’t forget the pop megastar’s most heart-wrenching song, All Too Well. Taylor’s ten-minute ballad of love and loss could be a mini-opera of its own, but we think that All Too Well would fit perfectly in Puccini’s tragic tale, Madam Butterfly. Lyrics such as ‘Time won't fly, it's like I'm paralyzed by it’ and ‘I can picture it after all these days’ remind us of Butterfly’s agonising wait for the return of her husband, the American naval officer, Pinkerton. Years later, Pinkerton returns with a new wife, wishing to adopt the young son he shares with Butterfly. In this moment we can picture Butterfly belting out Swift’s line ‘You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath’ and asking ‘Just between us, did the love affair maim you too?’ before she makes her final, heartbreaking decision.  Of course, there are plenty more heart-wrenching tales in both opera and Taylor Swift songs, so if you now find yourself in the mood for dramatic love stories, then head to our What’s On page where you’ll find all our upcoming productions. From Rigoletto to The Marriage of Figaro, we’re sure you’ll find something you’ll love.