Final Jeopardy: Opera

The Final Jeopardy question (5/28/2014), in the category “Opera” was:

In a bit of foreshadowing, the title character’s dad has committed suicide before the action in this 1904 opera.

17x champ Julia Collins is now up to $372,700 in winnings. She is 2 games away from a tie with Dave Madden’s record, and 3 to beat it and maybe beat his winnings, too. But she’s not going to get there if one of these players is on their toes: Maggie Davis, from Indianapolis, IN; and Manuel Bermudez, originally from Modesto, CA.

Round 1: Julia found the Jeopardy! round Daily Double in “Pin the Tale on the Donkey” under the $600 clue. She was in the lead with $5,000, $200 more than Manuel in second place. She bet $1,200 and said it was Don Quixote. That was WRONG.

Not quite Rocinante, the mount used by this character is a brown donkey. show

Manuel finished in the lead with $4,000. Julia was second with $3,800 and Maggie was last with $2,400.

Round 2: Manuel found the first Daily Double in “Newer Words & Phrases” under the $1,200 clue. He was in second place with $6,400, $5,800 less than Julia’s lead. He bet $3,000 and he was RIGHT.

Get in touch with this, defined by Random House as “the juvenile aspect of a person’s psyche.” show

Julia found the last Daily Double in “Los Alamos National Laboratory” under the $2,000 clue. It was the second to last clue. In the lead with $16,600, she had $7,200 more than Manuel in second place. She bet $2,300 and she was RIGHT.

The Lab’s 3-D visualization theater uses 33 digital projectors to study complex physical systems; for example, the asteroid impact that created the Chicxulub crater on this peninsula, leading to the extinction of the dinosaurs. show

That gave Julia the lock but there was one more clue for $2,000 on the board. Nobody rang in and Julia finished with $18,900, not a killer runaway like the last 2 games but unbeatable all the same (notice how Alex Trebek doesn’t say a word about it). Manuel was second with $9,400 and Maggie was in third place with $800. And here’s what that looked like:

TWO of the contestants got Final Jeopardy! right.


In Act I of Giacomo Puccini’s 1904 opera, “Madama Butterfly,” Cio-Cio San shows her few possessions to soon-to-be husband, Pinkerton. One is a sheath with a dagger belonging to her father. The marriage broker Goro explains to Pinkerton that Butterfly’s father committed suicide with it at the Mikado’s command. In Act III, Butterfly commits suicide with the same weapon.” (Sarasota Opera: Synopsis of Madama Butterfly)

Other 20th century operas with suicidal heroines: Tosca, Turandot, Suor Angelica (Puccini), Katja Kabanova (Janacek), The Rape of Lucretia (Britten); and Cleopatra does herself in twice (1914 (Massenet), 1966 (Barber).

Maggie wrote down Manon (who died but not by suicide in Puccini’s 1893 opera “Manon Lescaut”). She bet nothing so she lost nothing and remained at $800.

Manuel got it right. He bet $5,000 and finished with $14,400.

Julia also got it right. She didn’t bet anything either. So she won the match with $18,900. Her 18-day total is $391,600.

2 years ago:: NONE of the players got this FJ in “Presidential Resting Places”

Only 3 sites have the remains of 2 Presidents: 1 at Quincy, Mass., 1 at Arlington and 1 in this state capital. show

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54 Responses

  1. dalton higbee says:

    I didn’t expect Julia to win the game on May 28, 2014

  2. jacobska says:

    Christopher Ingraham has an interesting article on today’s Washington Post website (29 May 2014) on Jeopardy with charts and graphs comparing Ken, AChu, Julia, Madden, etc., winnings.

    • vj says:

      I put the link in, jacobska. It’s okay to ask me to put in a link or to put a legit and related link in your comment, only it won’t show up right away. I even have to approve my own links. I am anti-spam big time.

      • jacobska says:

        Thanks vj. I did not know if the Washington Post would complain. I like the graph comparisons.

    • eric steele says:

      Great! Unfortunately, my favorite player only lasted six games but averaged over $ 37,000 per win.

  3. jacobska says:

    @Nomi, the Jeopardy Clue of the Day appears every week day in the New York Times and on its website. That info is announced during Jeopardy breaks. As Eric stated it is not always the FJ clue. Sometimes it might appear someplace else on the board. Most times though it is the FJ. It is fun trying to figure it out. Today’s clue was easy for me and vj because maybe our Latin root word knowledge helped. Not sure.

    • vj says:

      I’ll say later how I knew it, but it wasn’t Latin. I never studied Latin in school per se, but was exposed to a fair amount in Catholic schools. I can read French and some Italian. Sometimes I get info from foreign wikis, like that list of suicidal opera heroines above was in French wikipedia, not English!

      But gosh, if we’re going to have a who’s the smartest thing going on, I’m out. I am dumb as a rock when it comes to the sciences and my math skills are atrocious.

      • jacobska says:

        Did your Swedish help? Between my Latin studies and visiting Sweden while living in Europe I figured it out. I don’t think it’s smarts in Jeopardy. Personally I think it is whether or not a topic is familiar to a contestant. If you notice there are some categories Julia doesn’t bother to buzz in on.

        • jacobska says:

          P. S. It wasn’t Biology or Botany that led me to the response to Clue of the Day (29 May 2014). Sometimes I back into a response based upon my schooling, in this case Latin, my living in other countries and what I learned while living in them or my readings.

          When I was in college I realized that trying to get something correct is not always the textbook way. Sometimes it was better to reason things out. I hated rote memory. Drove my profs crazy but I came to a conclusion that was correct. Like you vj quantitative courses vexed me until I figured out other ways to arrive at responses. Then it was easy.

  4. eric steele says:

    Looks like a tough FJ today (if the Clue of the Day is the FJ). At least it was to me. It’s a biology question and Julia said that she hasn’t had a biology class in years.
    I believe this can open the game at the end. Therefore, my prediction is: no runaway, Julia falls.
    @Nomi: no shame in not getting this one, but double goodness if you do and Julia doesn’t.

    • vj says:

      well a tough FJ is not going to preclude Julia from getting a runaway by the end of Double Jeopardy, is it? I know this one and haven’t had a biology class since well before Julia was a twinkle in her daddy’s eye.

      PS – so you’re not going to tell me why you think FeiFei and Wendy will be the toughest opponents?

      • eric steele says:

        So VJ, honestly and sincerely, you know a lot of things from many varied subjects, as do others on this site. Did you ever take the first Jeopardy qualifier? Are you waiting for the call? If you go on, you must tell us your name (Victoria Jane? )and when you’re on. Please don’t let it be the game Nomi plays, unless you tie. That would be great.
        P.S. re PS, maybe I was there, maybe not. After all, the audience isn’t sworn to secrecy.

        • eric steele says:

          P.P.S. my original post should’ve read: IF no runaway, Julia falls.
          And I thought this was a hard FJ, but I had never heard the term.
          Let me be clear: I am not the smartest person here and I would be happy to be in the top five (ok maybe three or four, haha). Actually I believe that intellects are like snowflakes, some are just more melted than others.

        • Nomi says:

          Hey Eric, just read your posts. No, I didn’t get it…had to google bromeliad :) . I wonder if many people know the FJ clue can be seen early morning. I certainly haven’t told any of my friends. Once in a while (about once every two months), I get to watch the show live with a couple friends and they are always awed by my FJ prowess. :)

        • eric steele says:

          @Nomi Lmao. Be careful: the CotD isn’t always the FJ! I think that it is, unless it’s a rerun, but I’m not sure.
          Like you, I only get to see the show occasionally, so this site really helps.
          As I’ve said before, I’ve been to tapings. They nice: just a couple of hours and free parking (buses aren’t far). That, the beach in Santa Monica, and the Botanical Gardens in UCLA are all free and worth every penny. The Getty Center is also, but parking costs, but the buses are reasonable. Keep them in mind if you go to L.A.

        • Nomi says:

          Right you are, Eric. The CotD isn’t always the FJ, but that’s rare. And lucky you, to be able to go to the tapings. I hope to be there too one day.

      • vj says:

        Nope, no tests, not waiting for any calls, and no ambition to go on the show here. Just trying to do a helpful and hopefully somewhat entertaining recap.

        I suppose I look at more websites in a week than most people look at in 2 months because of the the various sites I work on and their different topics – but I am pretty scatterbrained when it comes to recalling it in 30 seconds. LOL!

        Last month, for example, in Pam’s BotD game, I wrote an article about the guy who was the answer to the last Daily Double but could not recall his name for the life of me!

        PS – I take that to mean you have some info that a woman took Julia down but you don’t know which one.

        • eric steele says:

          I know what you mean about time. I learned my lesson the first time that I took the LSAT (I can almost hear Tom rolling his eyes).
          Ok. The absolute honest answer is I have no idea of the outcome, I just thought it would be fun to stir things up a bit. Those two just struck me as being the most likely to win. I don’t want to really get too far into why: one person’s deductions are another’s bias.

        • vj says:

          I’m betting John knows the answer :)

        • eric steele says:

          The avatars are changing (then yours changed back). Now, Nomi looks crabby and you looked like a pink elephant-bat, until you returned to your New Jersey Devil self.

        • eric steele says:

          Oh, and I have no doubt that John is also one who is smarter than I, at least in this arena.

        • will i am says:

          Not sure what FJ clue is being referred to, but an example of a “bromeliad” is a pineapple. I never took botany specifically, but I recall that there are plants that operate on a unique metabolic pathway called “CAM” (I think it was), and pineapples/bromeliads are among that group.

          I like the science categories, and anything history, geography, poly sci, social science/social studies related material.

          I’ve made a few attempts at Jeopardy going back quite a few years, including a very close call not too far back. I can say with strong certainty that the current system is set up to gather online quiz takers who score probably somewhere in the high 30’s to 40-ish (out of 50), and once they get to a tryout site, the selection process is not based on best performances on the in person (again, 50 questions) quiz, but “other factors” that the producers are looking for.

          This leaves a lot of room for the producers to achieve various distribution curves of contestant talent. Bottom line: I saw people I tried out with who weren’t particularly good players, and I’ve no doubt there were better players in my pool that would have made stronger contestants on the show.

        • eric steele says:

          And I slide further down the ladder.

        • eric steele says:

          Actually, Julia has an example of a preliminary tryout on her Twitter: how it started for me (I think).

        • will i am says:

          correction: The few people from my tryout pool who made it to the show were not very impressive players.

  5. vj says:

    On that $1,000 clue in Pin the Tale on the Donkey – “In 1879 this young Scot documented his adventures in France in Travels with a Donkey in Cevennes”

    Maggie said Robert Burns, an 18th century poet. To anyone this might interest, here is the 19th century poets lifespan chart on my poetry site. It shows some years from the 1700s, but Burns is only on the 18th century chart since he died in 1796. RLS was born in 1850.

    RLS was a very versatile guy and managed to cram a lot into his short life, in spite of his health problems.

    The travel in France was actually in 1878. (The donkey’s name was Modestine). In 1879, RLS traveled across America to hook up with his future wife who had just gotten a divorce. The book on that is The Amateur Emigrant (not published till after his death).

    I had a poll on Robert Louis Stevenson that asked when you hear his name what do you think of first — Jekyll & Hyde, Treasure Island, Child’s Garden of Verses, Master of Ballantrae, Kidnapped, no answer. Top answer was Treasure Island.

    • Tom Clark says:

      I was going to say that Treasure Island used to be considered the best novel for boys ever written, with Little Women the best novel for girls. (I’m going back a few decades here.)

      However, “Jekyll/Hyde” has passed into the language, and I think today it must be the most famous work Stevenson wrote. It has become so famous, the original novella doesn’t work any more, because the fact that Jekyll and Hyde are one and the same was a surprise ending!

    • vj says:

      His children’s poems were some of the first poems I learned and memorized as a child. I remember being 5 years old, muttering a line from “Bed in Summer” every night after daylight savings began. “I have to go to bed by day,” “I have to go to bed by day.”

  6. john blahuta says:

    just an idea i would like to put up for discussion, with all the pro and con rigging arguments. what if – and it’s a HUGE if, the show would be done LIVE. let’s say at 5 p.m. on the east coast then broadcast it at 5 in every time zone. the later ones would be “reruns”, but still unedited and “live”.
    i know, alex would have to show up 5 times a week for a couple of hours, hotel bills would soar and there would be all kind of objections and obstacles. but it would put to rest – at least for the most part( they could e.g. draw the categories on the air just before the game etc…) – the “rigging” theory. any ideas of variations, anyone?? i know broadcasting a 30 minute show live on a daily basis would create tons of headaches,but maybe somebody could come up with a viable alternative???? i know it would be tough on the crew, the contestants etc, but maybe there is SOME way to eliminate “possibilities” to, shall we say “influence” the outcome of a game or “streak”??? let’s get to work, brainstormers, and see if we can come up with something, some alternative to the current method? i don’t expect anyone to immediately come up with the perfect solution, but if enough people throw ideas back and forth etc… you know, if you have enough typewriters, enough chimpanzees and all the time in the world, one would eventually write “hamlet”, correct down to the last comma and period.
    this show is doing so much good for the education of people who otherwise would never even be interested in any “non essential” subject, it would be a shame, if -God forbid- it would go down in flames one day because somebody “overstepped” a line. even with the best of intentions.
    this is certainly a challenge but maybe we can little by little find a way to suggest a 100% kosher way, without the slightest possibility of manipulation?

    btw, i predict that thursday’s game will have 2 VERY strong opponents for julia and that the game will be very close. just a feeling, but we shall see.

    • Tom Clark says:

      My feeling is you’ll see two of the worst Jeopardy players in history up against her tomorrow.

      As to your first point, I don’t see how doing the show live would keep it from being rigged in the mild way I’ve been speculating: giving her weak competitors and having her buzzer slightly faster than the other two.

      • eric steele says:

        Perhaps the word “engineered” represents your sentiments better than “rigged”?

        • john blahuta says:

          nice variation, but semantics. invented on wall street , to nobody’s surprise….

  7. vj says:

    Speaking of body language (see Tom’s comment below) — I thought Manuel’s body language in the first round was saying “You’re going down today, mamasita.” He looked like he meant business and I also noticed that he didn’t clap at the end of the game.

    Well, that’s just the way I saw it. I’ve seen a lot of comments that Julia has a smug look about her — but I don’t see that, probably because my idea of a smug look is not in any of her expressions. To me, smug is in the eyes.

    It would be a shame if she doesn’t make the 19 games tomorrow. At first I was rooting for her to make 12 and didn’t care what happened after that. But now that she’s soooo close, I’m rooting for some more cannon fodder tomorrow. LOL!!

  8. Tom Clark says:

    I just want to say that the folks here who think NO WAY could Jeopardy be rigged could win the Nobel Prize for Naivete, if there were such a thing.

    Would you ever dream the VA would do the cheating that has now been revealed? Wouldn’t you have thought, “No way”?

    Also, the very young people on the staff of Jeopardy, if they even know much at all about the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, think of that era as very ancient history.

    I’m not saying things are rigged in favor of Julia, who is obviously an outstanding Jeopardy player — but I’m also not saying they’re not! They very well could be in this corrupt world of ours.

    By the way, Julia herself has nothing to do with this alleged rigging, and is clearly unaware of it. She was just in the right place at the right time.

    But do you notice how unsurprised she seems about her great success? There’s a certain expression on her face when Alex mentions how much she has won that makes me think ————– well, it makes me think.

    • Nomi says:

      I’m beginning to agree with Tom. But why are they doing this? Surely it’s putting people off, to see no competition. I came on Fikkle Fame today hoping to see Julia ousted. No luck!

      • eric steele says:

        Wendy and Feifei are her top competitors this week. Keep checking.

        • Tom Clark says:

          Excuse me for being out of the loop on this, but who are these Wendy and Feifei people you keep referring to?

        • vj says:

          Look at the Hometown Howdies in the sidebar to the right of the post, Tom. The four who haven’t played yet are Wendy, FeiFei, Sami and Matt.

          PS — Lebanon Public Libraries Facebook says Wendy’s game is on Friday, so we’ll probably see FeiFei Thursday, unless they are going to make it 2 guys Thurs and 2 gals Fri.

        • eric steele says:

          Nice bit of investigation.

        • eric steele says:

          Did they happen to say if she was playing Monday?

        • vj says:

          nope, it just said her game is on May 30th.

      • vj says:

        How do you know they are top competitors, Eric?

    • Keith says:

      Do you seriously think the good folks at Jeopardy would risk going to prison, and their lives as they know it, just to give a woman from the suburbs of Chicago some cash? C’mon man. There’s always a third party rep from Standards & Practices to ensure everything is kosher. Everyone takes the same test, there’s an arbitrary minimum score to have in order to become eligible for The Call.

      Also, it doesn’t matter if there’s some young people on the staff of the show, do you really think they’re unaware of the federal laws against rigging of game shows? Do you think they have no idea who the Standards & Practices lawyer that is there everyday is? The Powers That Be literally have nothing at all to gain from rigging anything for a contestant, and literally everything to lose if they did it. Unless the staff has some crazy wish to be thrown in prison for a few years, destined to probably never have a real career again, I just cannot see that happening.

      • Tom Clark says:

        Do you seriously think all the people in government who do corrupt things, whether it’s the bridge scandal in New Jersey or the VA scandal or the IRS scandal, etc. etc. etc. would risk going to prison? They sure seem to risk it!

        Why do you think people who work for Jeopardy remotely think they could go to prison, anyway?

        Who can prove they purposely gave Julia the weakest competitors they could find, i.e., the ones who passed the test with the lowest scores? Who can prove her buzzer was a tenth of a second faster than the others without going back in a time machine?

        As I’ve said, their motivation is to get a woman among the all-time top winners. The final 15 competitors in the Battle of the Decades were 14 men and 1 woman, if I remember correctly. Julia probably did an outstanding job in the tryouts and then, after she won several games, they thought, “Here she is. It’s now or never!”

        Something just doesn’t ring true about these incredibly lousy competitors she’s been getting!

        As for your outside person to insure things are kosher — everyone has his price! As Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist everything but temptation.”

        As for what they have to gain, look how we’re all talking about this. People are watching now to see how long Julia can go — and to see when she finally loses. As the ratings go up, the channels that run Jeopardy can charge more for commercial time — and the syndicator can charge the channels more for such a top rated show!

        Yes, I’m cynical, but living on this planet as long as I have tends to make you that way.

  9. Nomi says:

    So we, VJ’s readers, know the game is being rigged in favor of Julia. But there is no use of protesting because the games have been taped so much in advance. The producers cannot do anything to undo their transgression.

    On a side note, my FJ streak broke today. I saw the Opera category and my heart sank. Bet nothing and wrote down nothing :).

    • eric steele says:

      You’ll have time to study that category before your appearance. It’s alright now to miss those from your weaker categories.
      So, let your heart soar again!

      • Nomi says:

        I’ve tried thrice, Eric. I’m not good enough, not even to be cannon-fodder for Julia :).

        • eric steele says:

          Well, I still believe in you. However, if you already know that you have glaring deficiencies, address them! You still have plenty of time. I seem to remember many contestants saying they took the test numerous times.
          You are right, though: you are not good enough, if you believe it so.
          Further, why would you take the test more than once unless you believed that you may be good enough?
          Please believe, the test can not hold you back, only you can.
          So, like I said before, tell us when you’ll be on and what your name is and we’ll be cheering for you (not caring in the least that it’s taped)!

        • Nomi says:

          Yes, I will keep taking it of course. But am I wrong in assuming that almost everyone here takes the test annually? You only have to register once and then it’s like 10 minutes of your time on a January night (second week of Jan if I remember correctly). Any fan would/should take the test.

  10. eric steele says:

    Game theory 101: Manuel should have rung in on the last clue no matter what. Of course, in this case, it really didn’t matter.

    • eric steele says:

      Even further, as I didn’t get to see the game, Julia should have bet at least 4300 on the last DD: same risk, better return.

      • john blahuta says:

        same risk? pls explain. had she gotten it wrong, no chance for a runaway. there was no guarantee that julia would get fj right. she did, but as i said so often: hindsight is 20/20….but maybe i am missing something here???
        alex was kind of hesitating before announcing the fj category and saying julia has the lead. maybe he doesn’t trust his ability to do math in his head on national tv anymore..????:-) :-)

        well, 1 more to go to tie dave madden for games won,38.800 to tie him for money won.
        on friday she will go into the weekend , being # 2 in both areas. at least i hope so.
        i really admire how level-headed, cool, consistent and disciplined she plays. of course her brains don’t hurt either.
        the middle of the week prediction came true. i am REALLY rooting for her now. it would be a heartbreaker should she lose tomorrow. so close, but no cigar? aaaa would have to swallow THAT one…just kidding , aaaa! :-)

        • eric steele says:

          I’m glad that you asked about the risk. First of all, by that I am only considering ability to win, not the final total.
          So, at the time, Julia had 16.6 to M’s 9.4. If she bets 4.3 and gets it right, she wins no matter what (assuming she is not dumb enough to try the last clue). If she gets it wrong, she still will have the lead in FJ no matter what (her minimum at 12.3 to M’s max 11.4). Granted, betting 2300 was the next best thing, as Manuel had to get the last response correct, then overtake her. But still, she did leave that window open when she, with the same risk (e.g. correct/incorrect scenario), could have hammered it shut. AChu would not have made that mistake.

        • eric steele says:

          In my analysis, I did not double the last 2000 for Manuel. I was wrong. It was hubris. Her only losing situation was him getting both of the last two questions right and her missing FJ. If she goes jugular, like 6300, she can end the game, but does open the window for him taking the lead on the final question.