Saturday, March 7, 2015

The biggest mystery in the Tintin movie

I got curious after watching the Tintin movie: is the song that Castafiore sings the famous "Jewel Song" from Faust that she continually sings in the comic books? So I looked up "The Jewel Song" on youtube and, while the two songs sound similar, the song Castafiore sings in the movie is NOT "The Jewel Song" from Faust.

Fast forward a year or two and I start singing "The Jewel Song" in voice lessons. The very next song after "The Jewel Song" in my book is the song that Castafiore sings in the movie.

Both songs are from operas by Charles Gounod. "The Jewel Song" is, obviously, from Faust, and the song that Castafiore sings in the Tintin movie is from Romeo et Juliette.

Why did the people in charge of picking music choose "Juliet's Waltz" over "The Jewel Song," especially since both songs are by Gounod, and both songs sound so similar (featuring lots of "ah" runs)?

In the movie, Castafiore sings her highest note and it shatters a bulletproof glass case which homes the third Unicorn ship model, which is important to the plot. Did the song-choosers pick "Juliet's Waltz" because it goes one note higher than "The Jewel Song," and a higher pitch is needed to break the glass? And is that why they made Castafiore go a whole fourth HIGHER* than the actual highest note in the song?

According to my (minimal) research, you can shatter glass at any pitch, you just have to be loud enough and keep a steady pitch. (I guess the reason opera singers don't shatter glass with those high, high notes is because their vibrato.)
So did the song-choosers in the Tintin movie make a sloppy error with their musical research, or did they have some other reason for choosing "Juliet's Waltz" over "The Jewel Song"?

This question will haunt me for the rest of my life. If anyone can think of a plausible answer, please let me know.

Live long and prosper.

If you want to see someone shatter glass with his voice, check out this video:

*Going up the additional fourth bugs me. A lot. And not just because it's not in the original music. It bugs me because, listening to the song, it sounds like the sound editors electronically moved the pitch from the C (the red note in the picture) to the F (the orange note in the picture). While an F6 (which is the sixth F note on the keyboard) is difficult to hit (my highest note is an E6, which I can only hit on warmups), it is not impossible. Most coloratura sopranos can sing a G6 (the white note to the immediate right of the orange note in the picture) or even a G#6 (Diana Damrau, for instance). If the movie people wanted to change the music and go up to the F, they should have hired a soprano able to do it.


  1. That's funny! Never thought about that. You're a pretty good detective though.

  2. I DID NOT KNOW THIS. And now it's bugging me...gah. It always feels weird when movies (or books) make a mistake like that and my brain just wants to know whyyyy.
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!