I think that Opera gets such a bad wrap! It can be so beautiful and powerful when sung correctly. It takes so much talent and vocal power to sing like that.
As I was finding the music for this post, my two year old was on my lap and she wanted to hear the Hansel and Gretel over and over again. So we’ll begin with that one.
1. Abendsegen or Evening Prayer from Engelbert Humperdinck’s (I know, I love the name too!) Opera Hansel and Gretel, first performed in December 1893. The Opera is in German, but the one here is in English. I chose this version, because it was my little daughter’s favorite.
2. Der Hölle Rache or the Queen of the Night Aria from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Another favorite song from this Opera is the Papageno-Papagena duet (my daughters really love it). This version is Erika Miklosa’s performance, and while she looks a bit creepy singing into the camera, the character is crazy and creepy. More importantly, her voice is SO beautiful.
3. O Soave Fanciulla or Oh Gentle Maiden from Giacomo Puccini’s beautiful La Bohème, probably one of the most well known Operas worldwide. The entire opera is worth a listen. The last few notes of this piece almost always make me cry, no matter the rendition. This performance was Live from Berlin 7 July 2006, and the entire concert (The Berlin Concert: Live from the Waldbuhne) can be purchased on Amazon – here.
Anna Netrebko is fast becoming my favorite and I really enjoyed Rolando Villazon.
4. The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves by Guiseppe Verdi found in his Opera Nabucco. I thought that this performance was particularly touching. The tempo and power with which it is sung, and the photographs from the opera are fantastic.
5. Flower Duet from Leo Delibe’s Opera Lakme. All I know about the concert is that it is from Baden Baden in 2007, sung by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca. This duet is heavenly.
6. In the early 90’s as an impressionable teenager, I saw the movie A Room with a View (1985) and there was a scene when Lucy Honeychurch is walking through a tall wheat field, and this man, George Emerson, that she has just met grabs her and kisses her. It was a moment that has stayed with me for years. The scene was set to Giacomo Puccini’s Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from his Opera La Rondine. Though this performance is dated (1982) it is sung so superbly by Leontyne Price.
7. Another song, used in that movie was O Mio Babinno Caro or Oh my Dear Papa, from Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. This performance is Norwegian soprano, Sissel Kyrkjebø singing the aria from her 2002 DVD concert All Good Things.
8. Sempre Libera from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. This is again Anna Netrebko & Rolando Villazónin concert at the 2005 Saltzberg Festival. The performance has a very interesting modern set and costume design, which you may or may not like. I have always loved the Tenor part singing from offstage.
9. Au Fond Du Temple Saint a duet from George Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. This is one of the reasons that I love to hear men sing. Listen to the beauty and power of this duet. Eric Cutler and Nathan Gunn are the performers in this 2008 production in Chicago.
Here is a more complete performance (see comments on this post) – Jonas Kaufmann and Dmitri Hvorostovsky sing in a 12/16/08 concert in Moscow.
10. The Master of Opera, Luciano Pavarotti and the song of all songs – Nessun Dorma, from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot. There is nothing like it, this is the reason that I fell in love with opera. Just listen to the final notes – phenomenal!
A final shout out goes to Britain’s Got Talent’s 2007 winner Paul Potts. This video is truly brilliant. They all think that he is going to tank as he begins to perform Nessun Dorma. The look on the faces of the judges and audience members is priceless.
3 thoughts on “Top Ten Opera Favorites”
Ok, no fair that I have a sore throat and cannot sing along today. 😦
1–I love Hansel und Gretel. Englebert Humperdink is also the name of a lounge singer….but serioulsy this is one of the first songs I learned as a child, in German. I still prefer the German.
3–This duet always reminds me of Moonstruck, one of my favorite movies. I just love that everyone falls in love to this song.
5–I used to know this duet by heart. This is one of my favorite of all time songs.
6 & 7 — Florence, Lucy Honeychurch, George Emerson. Need I say more? Really though, we need to get us up to Italy one of these days. The Chapter in Room With A View is: Lucy, Charlotte, Mrs Lavish, the Rev Beeb, the Misters Emerson go on a picnic, Italians drive them. I love the Italians drive them part! And let it forever be known, George Emerson can kick Mr Darcy’s butt any time! And now, I think I will need to go and watch Room With A View Today. “Is Pheyton misbehaving with his Persephone?”
8 — I acutally like it when operas are set with modern sets and costumes. My favorite rendition of La Bohemie is the Baz Lurhman/Sydney Opea company from the late 1990s. Everyone is dressed in biker clothes…totally cute. But that Rolando guy…he’s a creamy, dreamy treat!
9 — I’d never heard this one! Holy cow!
10 & 11 — Pavarotti is acutully not my favorite tenore, I’m a Jose Carras fan. However, I do LOVE Paul Potts. I love him.
Now the one thing you’re missing in the Three Tenors Sing Christmas. I got in at a tape stand in Plovdiv, it’s so awsome. But not as awesome as the Kenny Rodgers/Bing Crosby tape Elder Madson had. He never would give that to me. Thank you for writing this post for me Kapooka. I love you!
Joyce shared this on FB, which is why I’m here.
I love all of your choices. Not many people know the Pearlfishers duet, but it is one I have always loved.
I’d have to add Verdi’s Willow Song/Ave Maria from Otello and probably Una Voce Poco Fa from Rossini’s Barber of Seville. Of course, I don’t know what I’d be taking of your list here…do we have to stick to just ten?
Lara, I have to agree, I think those are great choices, especially Una Voce Poco Fa which is tremendous, but I had to stop somewhere! 😉 Thank you so much for commenting.
Joyce – Isn’t Pearlfishers AMAZING! I love it so much that I’m going to put up a second one that is the full song, for comparison. The first video is great because it’s costumed.
You’re right – the three tenors were fabulous!
I’ll never forget being on a bus in Sofia and hearing Bryan Adams singing O Sole Mio and thinking, “ugh, why is he singing this?” Then Pavarotti comes in on the next verse and I thought, “no, that’s Pavarotti, how could I mix the two up?” Then they sang together, and I found the tape – Pavarotti and Friends. So silly! You can find the performances on Youtube. They’re good for a laugh.
I did this post for you Joyce to make up for the “Opera mix fiasco” – my procrastination knows no bounds!