While Moulin Rouge! (2001) riffs on and even exaggerates conventions from classic Hollywood backstage musicals, it owes a clear debt to an even earlier musico-dramatic genre – the opera. Combining operatic and film musical elements with those of pop videos, contemporary cinema and the rave scene, Baz Luhrmann's film engages with many of the thorny issues that have concerned opera critics of late, such as power, gender, exoticism, authorship, and identity construction and performance. The spotlight on the central love triangle of a consumptive courtesan, a writer and a wealthy patron makes possible a deeper scrutiny of traditional gender roles in the production and reception of Western art. The film's formulaic plot and the backstage musical format render transparent the commercial impetus behind the creative process and demystify the role of the Romantic artist-genius. Finally, the transnational and transhistorical elements of the film – a mostly Australian production team and crew, American and British pop songs, a Parisian backdrop, the Bollywood-inspired show-within-a-show, numerous anachronisms that refuse to stay confined within the specified time setting of the late nineteenth century – disrupt the Classical ideals of artistic unity and integrity and suggest new postmodern geographies and temporalities. This article considers how Luhrmann, by simultaneously paying homage to and critiquing operatic practices in Moulin Rouge!, deconstructs and reinvents opera for the postmodern age.