… Or at least that’s what my friend Grace is promising me. I’d asked her for a list of favorite arias, you see, because I am illiterate when it comes to operas and arias. It’s odd that I’m not an opera person. I’ve always loved classical music, and revel in the luxury of attending performances at the symphony, the ballet. I’ve sung in choirs since my youth, and one of the best things about going to Mass, sporadically as I do, is the singing. But for whatever reason, sitting and watching opera leaves me feeling very restless.
But I can still appreciate a beautiful melody. And every now and then, I hit upon an aria that steals my breath and my heart, it’s so beautiful. I have my own little top 5 list. I’m going to bet that you are familiar with most of these, too. I discovered them through movies and commercials and other lowbrow forms of entertainment. Hey, what can I say? I embrace my lowbrow side, too. Where would the world be without Taco Bell, Budweiser beer, and opera in TV commercials? To hell In a hand basket, my friend.
Here’s my list (note: the last two aren’t operas, really, so they only count for half a point each)
- Catalani: La Wally – Ne Andrò Lontano (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8jCe9Yj1I8)
- Puccini: Gianni Schicchi – O Mio Babbino Caro (featured in the opening credits of Room With a View and I’ve talked about this one before here: http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/a-perfect-moment-via-o-mio-babbino/
- Bellini: Norma – Casta Diva
- Puccini: Turandot – Nessun Dorma (*See below)
- Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann – Barcarolle (featured in the movie Life is Beautiful)
- Grieg: Peer Gynt – Solveig’s Cradle Song. This one’s so exquisite, you have to hear it.
(Here’s the link in case my embeds are malfunctioning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgBuJNyese4)
But back to my friend, Grace. When, six months ago, she brought up how much she’d enjoyed seeing Bellini’s Norma, multiple times now, I’d mentioned my opera illiteracy. Knowing she was much better educated than I in opera, I asked for her advice. “Ooh, let me compile a list for you,” she told me. “I’ll whittle it down to my favorites.”
Well. The list was 50 favorites (which I’m going to call “arias” in this post to keep it simple but really there are quartets, too, and choruses, and such, but you’re okay with that, right? Good).
Lucky me: Grace burned me three CDs to accompany her list. My habit is to listen to one CD over and over, getting a feel for which one speaks to me. You know how it is: sometimes you’ll have an instant favorite on the first listen. Some take several listens. Sometimes, by the 10th listen, you’ve grown tired of your initial favorite, and you’ve been drawn in, utterly beguiled, by one that you didn’t even register during the first few listens.
Here’s what was on the first CD. Are any of these your favorites?
- Beethoven Fidelio Chorus of the Prisoners
- Beethoven Fidelio Mit ist so wunderbar
- Bellini Norma Oh! Di Qual Sei Tu Vittima
- Bellini Norma Oh! Qual Traspare Orrible
- Bellini Norma Mira, O Norma
- Bellini Norma Si, Fino All’ore Estreme
- Bellini Norma In Mia Man Alfin Tu Sei
- Von Weber Der Freischutz Und ob die Wolke sie verhülle
- Gounod Romeo et Juliet Ah! j…
- Donizetti Lucia Di Lammermoor
- Donizetti Lucia Di Lammermoor
- Donizetti Lucia Di Lammermoor
- Verdi Rigoletto Gaultier Malde’ Caro Nome
- Verdi Rigoletto E il sol dell’ anima
- Verdi La Traviata E Strano! E Str
- Verdi La Traviata Sempre Libera
- Gounod Faust Salut! Dem
Among three or four rising favorites at this point, here’s the hands’ down winner: Carl Maria Von Weber’s Der Freischutz. “Und ob die Wolke sie verhülle” is performed here by Anna Tomowa-Sintow:
Here’s Grace’s second CD list
- Gounod Faust Ballet Music
- Mozart Cosi Fan Tutte Soave sia il vento
- Mozart Magic Flute Chorus of Priests
- Mozart Magic Flute Der Vogelfanger bin …
- Mozart Magic Flute Dies Bildness is bezaubernd
- Mozart Magic Flute O Isis un Osiris
- Nicolai Merry Wives of Windsor
- Puccini La Boheme O Soave Fa…
- Puccini Turandot Nessun Dorma
- Puccini Gianni Schicchi O Mio babbino caro
- Puccini La Boheme Chegelida manina
- Rossini Barber of Seville Ecoo, ridente in cielo
- Rossini Barber of Sevillw Una voco poco fa
- Verdi Rigoletto La Donna E Mobile
- Verdi Rigoletto Bellla Figlia Dell’amore
- Verdi Il Trovatore D’ amor sulla ali rosee
- Bellini Norma Casta Diva
* Pause for a commercial break, and that’s great, because that’s precisely what it is: a commercial. For beer. But oh, what a splendid commercial, using Bellini’s Nessun Dorma from my Top 5 list. It’s not just funny to watch, but to listen to, because they’ve changed the words. You’ve GOT to watch this. Kudos to Carleton Draught [beer] for an absolutely brilliant commercial.
And here’s the third of Grace’s list, which brings us to the aforementioned 50 arias we’ll love. Thank you, Grace!
- Bellini I Puritani O Rendeterni La (JS)
- Bellini La Sonnambula Ah! Se U
- Bellini La Sonnambula Ah! Non Credo mirati
- Bellini La Sonnambula Ah! Non giunge
- Bellini I Puritani O Rendetemi La (AN)
- Bellini I Puritani Vien, Diletto, E
- Wagner Flying Dutchman Spinning Chorus
- Wagner Die Meistersinger
- Wagner Tannhauser Entry of guests
- Wagner Tannhauser Pilgrim’s chorus
- Wagner Lohengrin Bridal chorus
- Wagner Lohengrin Procession
- Wagner Parsifal Grail chorus
- Von Weber Der Freischutz Huntsmen’s chorus
- Mozart The Magic Flute Bei Mannern, welche
3 thoughts on “50 arias you’ll love”
I should have called the list “Opera Favorites” since obviously not all these selections are arias. I couldn’t resist a few quartets and choral numbers. Another mistake: on disc 3 I mistakenly added O Rendeterni La from Bellini’s I Puritani twice. However, the first one is by Joan Sutherland and the second version is by Anna Netrebko. Might be interesting to compare them.
I suppose I could retitle the post to say “50 arias and other opera favorites and/or similar kinds of music pieces you’d love” but that would read kinda long. ; )
So, I’m just going to cheat and call them arias.
And thanks again, Grace! I’m having so much fun learning more about arias (and stuff).
Grace, I couldn’t resist adding that I’m very glad you included the other pieces, such as the quartets. I’m so enjoying the Beethoven Fidelio quartet, “Mir ist so Wunderbar” (no. 2 on CD 1). I listened to it this morning, over and over.
And since we’re expanding the definition of what constitutes an aria, well, my goodness, I HAVE to include “Abendsegen” from Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel. That IS an opera, actually. It’s just that the piece doesn’t feel “aria.” But it’s sooo beautiful. Others, do check it out. I blogged about it here: http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/hansel-gretel-abendsegen-14-angels/