O mio babbino caro …

This soprano aria comes from a one-act comic opera set in Florence by Giacomo Puccini called Gianni Schicchi, written in 1918. It is sung by Lauretta after her father, Schicchi, has refused to allow her to continue her romance with Rinuccio, as she cannot provide her lover with a dowry on marriage. In response she … Read more

Wagner – Overture to Die Meistersinger

Wagner’s talents spanned composing, theatre directing and conducting but he is primarily known today for the thirteen magnificent operas he completed. The overture to the only comedy among these was first performed in Leipzig in November 1862 but it was not until June 1868 that the complete opera was ready for its first public performance. … Read more

Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod

Wagner’s composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck, and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. It is widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory and is notable for Wagner’s advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension. The opera has been profoundly influential among … Read more

Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana (Intermezzo)

Mascagni first studied composition in Milan, rejecting his father’s wishes to continue the family bakery business. At the age of 26 he achieved immediate fame by winning first prize in a competition for one-act operas. Although he wrote other operas, none matched the success of Cavalleria Rusticana, which was played worldwide and influenced many other … Read more

Mozart: Don Giovanni (arias)

Don Giovanni was commissioned for the opera in Prague, where Figaro had just been a phenomenal success. The main theme was a familiar one, the story of the conquest of innumerable ladies by Don Juan and a statue that comes to dinner! Read on. The opera is a story of social class and, especially, sexual … Read more

Mozart: Magic Flute (arias)

An opera in two Acts, The Magic Flute was first performed in 1791, just two months before the composer’s death. It was Mozart’s first opera for popular theatre. The Magic Flute was hugely successful and enjoyed 197 performances in two years throughout the world. It has been described as an exotic fairy tale with mystical … Read more

Mozart: Marriage of Figaro (arias)

Figaro was first performed in 1786, based on a play by da Ponte who was the leading librettist at that time. The play had everything to commend it, not least the thrill of being banned because of its subversive nature. Figaro teems with plots and intrigues. The play is reminiscent of a French farce, with … Read more

Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries

The Ride of the Valkyries (in German: Walkürenritt) is the popular term for the beginning of Act III of Die Walküre by Richard Wagner. One of Wagner’s best-known pieces, it stands out in part because of its references in popular culture, where it is used to represent stereotypical Grand Opera, and for its use during … Read more