Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS This image shows a frame from a video posted on YouTube by The Planetary Society, with actor Robert Picardo singing an operatic ode to the Cassini spacecraft. The actor from TV’s ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ series says he dashed off the lyrics in about a minute, several weeks ago.

Goodbye Cassini: Saturn spacecraft gets funny opera send-off

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is getting a grand but hilarious opera send-off before it plunges through Saturn’s atmosphere and vaporizes Friday.

An actor from TV’s old “Star Trek: Voyager” series, Robert Picardo, said he dashed off the lyrics in about a minute, several weeks ago. He collaborated with the creative director of The Planetary Society, and, presto, “Le Cassini Opera” was born.

Picardo set the words to the instantly recognizable aria “La Donna e mobile” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto.”

While Cassini’s 20-year mission has been “a serious success,” Picardo said the opera is definitely a comedy. Here’s how it opens: “Goodbye, Cassini. Your mission’s fini. Bravo, Cassini! Have some linguini.” And on it goes, paying humorous tribute.

“No tragedy here. All good things — NASA missions, ‘Star Trek’ series, turkey and Swiss sandwiches with avocado — come to an end,” Picardo told The Associated Press.

Cassini’s program manager, Earl Maize, loves the performance.

“It’s very heartwarming to us,” Maize told reporters Wednesday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“Part of what we try to do is to extend everybody out to Saturn. It’s not science for the ivory tower. It’s for humanity, and so everybody to get on the ride, come with us, is just phenomenal.”

That was Picardo’s goal, too. A longtime fan of both space and opera, he merged those interests in “Star Trek: Voyager” as the holographic doctor who bursts into song. It seemed fitting that he celebrate Cassini in song, too. He actually got to see Cassini’s hitchhiking moon lander, the European Huygens, before it left Earth in 1997.

Picardo said Wednesday from Beverly Hills, California, that he sang “Le Cassini Opera” through twice. Five minutes, and that was a wrap.

“It was definitely a seat-of-the-pants production,” he said.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer teacher engages students with “cool” science experiments

On Thursday, he made fire dance to the beat of the music

Province purchases land for new Red Deer courthouse

Construction to begin in the fall of 2019

Parking costs in Red Deer are going up — so are parking tickets

City council raises parking rates by 25 per cent starting July 1

WATCH: Alberta Party leadership candidates in Red Deer

Three people vying to be the leader of the Alberta Party were… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month