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Break The Cutie / Opera

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  • Opera in general is well known for this trope, as there are so many female characters who really get broken throughout.
  • Aïda from Verdi's Aida definitely counts. An Ethiopian princess-turned-slave for Egyptian Princess Amneris, she is torn between her love for Egyptian warrior Radamès and her loyalty to Ethiopia and her father Amonasro, and tries to help him escape from Egypt along with Radamès. This being opera, the plan fails, Amonasro is killed, and Radamès is charged with treason and sentenced to be buried alive, so Aïda sneaks into the tomb to die with Radamès.
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  • Lakmé from Delibes' Lakmé. A sweet Hindu priestess who falls in love with British officer Gérald, Lakmé wants to make their love everlasting by having him drink magical water from a spring with her. However, when Gérald is reminded of his duties, he becomes indifferent to Lakmé, who becomes so devastated that she consumes a poisonous leaf to commit suicide. This makes Gérald change his mind and drink the water, of course, just before Lakmé dies.
  • Poor, poor Lucia di Lammermoor. After her lover Edgardo leaves for France, Lucia is forced to marry Arturo after her brother Enrico forges a letter claiming that Edgardo has taken a new lover. To make matters worse, Edgardo shows up at the wedding and curses Lucia before trampling the ring that she gave him. All of this culminates in Lucia going mad and stabbing her new husband to death on their wedding night before interrupting the celebrations by wandering around in a blood-splattered wedding gown and singing her famous aria in which she believes that she's living a happy life with Edgardo. And after all of that, she dies from madness. The universe really has it in for her.
    • Donizetti loved doing this to the heroines of his tragic operas. Other examples include:
      • Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) from Anna Bolena. Based on Anne Boleyn, the wife of King Henry VIII, Anna is neglected by her husband and rumours of him being interested in another woman are flying around the court. Even worse, the new lover is Anna's chief lady-in-waiting, Giovanna Seymour (Jane Seymour). Anna is eventually accused of infidelity and convicted of such, and she temporarily goes mad just before her execution.
      • Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots) from Maria Stuarda. Even before the opera starts, Maria has been forced to abdicate the throne and flee from Scotland after a rebellion, and tries to seek asylum in England from her cousin Elisabetta (Elizabeth) but ends up imprisoned. When the opera starts, Maria is still imprisoned but is trying to petition her release, unintentionally having Roberto of Leicester falling in love with her, much to Elisabetta's anger. Sadly, Elisabetta refuses to let Maria go free and signs her death warrant, and the opera ends with Maria dying.
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  • Poor Gilda from Verdi's Rigoletto. The daughter of court jester Rigoletto, Gilda falls in love with the sleazy Duke of Mantua, and sacrifices her life to save him from assassins hired by her father. He really doesn't deserve her.
  • Dvorak's Rusalka has the titular water spirit suffering so much for love. She gives up her voice and immortality to fall in love with the Prince, but the Prince grows bored with her because she doesn't speak and instead goes after the manipulative Foreign Princess. He even kisses her in front of Rusalka! Even worse, when Rusalka cannot bring herself to stab the Prince in order to turn back into a water spirit, she cannot return to the lake and is condemned by her sisters, so she ends up as a demon of death trapped at the bottom of the lake.
  • Tosca: Floria Tosca is a sweet, religious girl, though a bit prone to jealousy. Corrupt police boss Scarpia uses this jealousy to not only get her to accidentally betray the artist Mario Cavaradossi, who she loves, to him, but then forces her to both tell him where Mario might be hiding Angelotti to stop him from being tortured, then agree to be raped to keep him from being executed in Scarpia's namesake ultimatum. Poor Tosca has a complete breakdown at that point, asking God why he would do this to her, who lived only for art and love, and tried only to serve him. She manages to palm a dagger and kill Scarpia when he returns to rape her — but, when she goes to meet up with Mario, the false execution that Scarpia arranged... turns out to be not so fake after all. As she breaks completely, and the troops can be heard coming to arrest her for the murder of Scarpia, she takes the only action left to her, and throws herself off the roof of a tower.
    • Puccini certainly put his cuties through the wringer. Poor Sister Angelica, forced to live out her days in a convent for the crime of having a child out of wedlock seven years prior: one day her rich aunt comes and tells her, "Your younger sister is about to get married to THE MAN YOU SLEPT WITH, you brazen slut, and you have to sign over your inheritance to her, since you won't be needing it. Oh, and your son died a couple of years ago. Bye," after which Angelica, devastated, brews up a poison out of the plants in the garden she tends, drinks it, and then realizes that she's committed a mortal sin and therefore has condemned herself to hell.
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    • Madame Butterfly: Poor Cio-Cio-San. She marries an American lieutenant, only for him to abandon her for three years on the cusp of poverty, during which she fervently believes that he will return to her. When he does come back to Japan, it's with his new American wife in order to take her son Sorrow back to America. Realizing this, the heartbroken Cio-Cio-San commits suicide in order to restore whatever honour she has left.
    • Poor Liù from Turandot; a slave girl who cares for Prince Calaf's blind and ageing father, she gets tortured on the account that she knows Calaf's name, yet she refuses to tell Princess Turandot. Instead, she sings "Tu che di gel sei cinta" while being tortured, telling that love is her resolve before committing suicide with a guard's dagger.
  • As that distinguished opera critic, Bugs Bunny said in What's Opera, Doc?, "What did you expect from an opera? A happy ending?"


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