Beautiful aria… but with which perfume?

Tristan und Isolde

Ludwig und Malwine Schnorr von Carolsfeld – Tristan und Isolde, 1865.

Perfume criticism depends largely on one’s references. Unless the person has the perfume in front of them, you have no choice but to refer to perfume notes or other perfumes or feelings or art.  Personally, I don’t like to list notes because they rarely describe what the finished product actually smells like.  Listing other perfumes is probably your best bet IF the reader knows the other perfume.  For instance, “Miss Dior (1947) smells similar to Y by Yves Saint-Laurent” is a perfectly good reference but if you don’t know what Y smells like, then it doesn’t work.

My background in art history has served me well but also my love of opera. Luckily, with the Internet, I can include images and links to YouTube.  It makes it much easier for my readers.

Last week when I made the link between Eau du Soir and Tosca, I really had Verdi in mind… which was wrong, Tosca being an opera from Puccini,  FiveOaksBouquet commented the following :

Other than Tosca, who does seem like a perfect candidate for dramatic rose chypres, I see Puccini characters as leaning more toward lighter florals or floral aldehydes as in the case of Liu, who has her own. This could be a very interesting topic for discussion, perfumes suitable for opera characters in general.

And then in a follow-up comment :

While reading your post, thoughts of Verdi did pop up, specifically Violetta in La Traviata. If I can detour a bit to characters in that opera, my favourite character is the father. After hearing La Traviata several times over the years, I came away thinking if I were Violetta I would have gone for the strong father instead of his wimpy son.  I think he could wear something like the original Héritage by Guerlain really well—but I really do digress.

Please digress!

When FiveOaksBouquet suggested that Puccini brought to mind floral aldehydes, she was so right!  Perhaps Puccini’s most popular heroine, Mimi from La Bohème, could certainly be wearing an abstracted floral fragrance… but definitely NOT a rose chypre!  Wagner is easy… leathers!  Big leathers!  Yes, even the women!  Well, if not leathers, then at least woods.

You know, when I started this post, I thought it would be easy to come up with 3 operatic heroines or heros and match the perfume scent but the more I thought about it, the more I became confused.  Why couldn’t Wagner’s Isolde wear Chanel No. 22?  Or Guerlain’s Idylle?  Or, L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci?

I’m giving myself another week to think about it.  In the meantime, any suggestions?

Leave a comment


  1. FiveoaksBouquet

     /  January 22, 2018

    Carmen used to wear Lanvin Spanish Geranium. When it was discontinued, she found Floris Rose Geranium—but then that was discontinued too! Not to worry; today she has Boy Chanel, carrying on the undoubtedly red geranium note to this day.

    Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust also had a problem with discontinuation. When Van Cleef and Arpels came out with Gem, she thought she was set forever. But that scent too went its way. Once again, however, Chanel to the rescue, with 1932, in honour of its first jewelry collection and now Marguerite can sing The Jewel Song happily once again.

    Now Faust has been scrambling to wear every fragrance aimed at the youth market. He was even desperate enough once to try Axe Apollo but finally came to terms with his mortality and settled on the more realistic Tom Ford Grey Vetiver.

    Mephistopheles, of course, can wear any perfume to represent his changing identities as he plies his mischief around the world, but his go-to-scent for his own pleasure is naturally L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer.

    Carlo and Alvaro in La Forza del Destino both came to the showdown wearing Duel. Oops–same perfume on the same day! In my version one of them said “Sorry,” and went home and changed perfume and they remained friends forever.

    This is fun but in a way I cheated a little bit. Except for Carmen’s and Faust’s, whose scents really do seem to be olfactorily appropriate, these perfumes rely on the superficial connection of the name. It is much harder to connect a character with the actual nature of the fragrance itself.

    • Oh, so smart and so funny! I love the way you treated the characters as they would be today shopping at the local department store, or even a drugstore, for something to wear.

      Faust wearing Grey Vetiver… yes, absolutely! Perfect for a social climber!

      And, Mephistopheles would smell “diabolic” in Passage d’Enfer. As would Don Giovanni as he is being taken down to hell by demons.

      And, Carmen with Spanish Geranium… so totally appropriate.

      Thanks for taking the time to write.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: