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Just Follow Your Nose for Good Opera

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Jul 18, 2013 03:48 AM EDT | James Inverne

Just Follow Your Nose for Good Opera

Dead fish for 'Peter Grimes,' optimism in 'Candide,' cloves on cloves of garlic à la 'Der Vampyr'--no doubt, Mr. Jimmy Durante here could've smelled them all! (Photo : Creative Commons)

The sweet smell of success?

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music will hope so, as they add a new dimension to a new opera production--the sensation of smell.

Our friends over at Limelight magazine in Australia report that this month's production of Hymn to the Sun--an adaptation of Philip Glass's 1983 opera Akhnaten, about the Egyptian pharaoh--will waft perfume into the audience.

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Sensuality is apparently the goal, with the perfume designed by Chiaki Nomura (who's based in New York). And, says Limelight, the idea is for the scent to "connect audiences more deeply with the events as they unfold on stage."

The perfume has tones of velvet jasmine, water lilies, deep music, bergamot and muguet, and you have one chance to catch it--at the single performance on Saturday, July 27.

This might sound entirely novel, but in fact there have been other instances, although rare, where smell was brought to bear.

Way back in 1988, the director Richard Jones took on Prokofiev's The Love of Three Oranges for English National Opera--and duly supplied the audience with scratch 'n' sniff cards so that they could unleash the appropriate scents. The show was a hit, but smell-o-vision didn't catch on in a wider sense.

No, not even on YouTube.

Maybe the Australians will now revive a lost art.

And for future productions? Here are Classicalite's suggestions for appropriate scents...

Britten's Peter Grimes 

Fish. Dead fish.

Bizet's Carmen

Tapas and wine.

Bernstein's Candide

Optimism (the precise make-up of said scent is obviously for the scent designer to work out, but this one should be intersting).

Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen

Wet fox fur.

Marschner's Der Vampyr

Garlic, and lots of it!

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