Classical music: opera song in “The Shawshank Redemption” movie

shawshank redemption opera song

Music has the power to say so much more than we can see… So many movies have tried to express this idea, but The Shawshank Redemption was very good in doing that, and it was done through a single scene. An opera song floating in the air and doing incredible charming effect on the prisoners minds and souls.


The Shawshank Redemption opera song

One of the greatest scenes in film history is from the great film “The Shawshank Redemption”.

The Shawshank redemption opera scene embodied the spirit of the film’s story, when the wrongly imprisoned, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), locks himself in the prison office in an act of defiance against prison authorities and plays “Duettino- Sull’aria” aria duet from one of Mozart’s most popular operas “The Marriage of Figaro” over the loudspeakers, creating a sense of euphoria throughout the prison yard.


And hardened prisoners who haven’t seen the world outside the prison walls for ages, just stood open-mouthed, silenced by the arresting beauty of a sudden soothing music coming from a machine that orders them to do things. It was like the one hope left in the world, which for them it probably was… for moments, every prisoner at Shawshank felt free.

Also, the guards in the courtyard, hospital and in the workplaces were also brought to silence, maybe the were shocked like the prisoners and appreciated the beauty of the situation, believing that such a thing cannot exist in a gloomy place like this prison.

Red (Morgan Freeman), a fellow inmate, providing a voice-over narration, comments, “II have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.”

It is so sad to think human are denied the music that can mend souls. However, I think this scene deserves Oscars for the acting , music , colors , Morgen Freeman’s voice …


Who is the opera singer in the Shawshank redemption ?

The recording they used in the movie was made in 1968, many years later with Deutsche Oper Berlin Duettino conducted by Karl Bohm. The two “Italian” ladies were the German born Austrian lyric soprano Gundula Janowitz and her contemporary the Swiss soprano Edith Mathis.

Janowitz was von Karajan’s favourite singer and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. Mathis was a leading exponent of the works of Mozart. Their recording of “Canzonetta sull’aria” from “The Marriage of Figaro” opera is widely considered the best in existence. listen to original opera song from Shawshank redemption in the video below.


Also discover: Best opera songs of all times


What are they singing about?

They’re actually singing about their plan to trick the Count. In this scene from Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro”, the Countess Rosina was left alone and she ponders over the loss of her happiness. Susanna, her maid, enters and updates her regarding the plan to trap the Count.
The Countess dictates a love letter for Susanna to send to the Count, asking him to meet susana secretly , “under the pines”. The letter instructs the Count to return the pin which fastens the letter. In this duet, the Countess dictates the title and the three lines of the letter and, after a pause, Susanna repeats the lines as she writes them. In the later part of this duet, the Countess and Susanna read alternate lines with a slight overlap (bars 38–45) until they finish in a true duet with their conclusion. 


Shawshank Redemption opera song lyrics in english:

The content of Countess’ letter was:

On the breeze
What a gentle little zephir
A little zephir
This evening will sigh
This evening will sigh
Under the pines in the little grove.
Under the pines…
Under the pines in the little grove
Under…the pines…in the little grove
And the rest he’ll understand
Certainly, certainly he’ll understand.

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