Listening to Opera music is an enjoyable and pleasurable experience. And it is also an emotional journey. Opera songs bring drama and emotions to the act itself. And the good news is, you can listen to some of these famous songs. What are some of the most famous opera songs?
We will embark on an emotional journey trying to reveal some of the most popular opera aria songs. Let’s go listen to some classical music.
O Sole Mio
The globally popular Neapolitan opera song is definitely at the top of the list. Written in 1898 by Giovanni Capurro, the song has many variations and versions. Yet, the original is sung in an original Neapolitan language.
A lot of singers have performed this song. But we can definitely say that the one by the Three Tenors, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti is the best ever. Pavarotti also sang the song once with Bryan Adams side by side.
This is among the most famous songs from Verdi’s Aida. The song plays when Ramades returns victorious from battle. As the name suggests, he marches triumphantly. The scene portrays immense internal conflict for the princess Aida, whose love just won a battle against her country.
The Opera Aida is set in Ancient Egypt. It represents a timeless story of love and betrayal against the backdrop of war.
There are many theories why Giuseppe Verdi wrote the opera. One is that he wrote it in celebration for the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Yet, the reality is that Verdi was commissioned to write the opera in celebration of the opening of the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo.
The original name for this song is “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle”. It is an aria from Georges Bizet’s 1875 opera Carmen. Habanera is the entrance aria of the title character, in scene 5 of the first act.
The score of opera aria was adapted from the Habanera by the Spanish musician Sebastian Iradier, first published in 1863. Fun fact: Bizet thought it to be a folk song. So, when others told him that was a song written by a composer who died 10 years earlier, Bizet added a note of its derivation in the first edition.
Bizet kept the basic layout of the song, which has each verse in D minor and each refrain in the tonic major. But he let go of the long ritornello. Thanks to his customization of the song, he made it a memorable song.
La Dona e Mobile
Another famous song from a famous opera. La Dona e Mobile is a popular song from Verdi’s Rigoletto. The song plays when Rigoletto arrives with money at midnight, receives a corpse wrapped in a sack, and rejoices in his triumph. Rigoletto prepares to cast the sack into the river when he hears the voice of the Duke, singing the aria.
The name of the great opera song translates to The woman is fickle. It is praised as a showcase for tenors. Verdi wrote the music for Rigoletto. He was commissioned by the Venetian La Fenice to write an opera seria for the Carnival in 1851.
Nobody has ever sung this famous opera song better than Pavarotti. And probably nobody ever will. The aria has become an iconic number for dramatic productions.
Translating to “none shall sleep”, the song was made famous by Pavarotti. The incredible emotional aria comes from the famous Italian opera, Puccini’s Turandot. Puccini wrote and composed the opera, and he made it famous for the passion and precision he poured into it.
Prince Calaf sings the aria when he wants to marry Princess Turandot. While the song has been a staple of operatic recitals, Pavarotti popularized it beyond the opera world in the 1990s. He performed the song at the 1990 World Cup, captivating a global audience with the aria.
Other notable performers of the song include Aretha Franklin and Andrea Bocelli.
Un Bel Di, Vedremo
Translated from Italian, the song “One fine day we’ll see” is a soprano aria from the opera Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.
Butterfly sings it on stage with Suzuki, as she imagines the return of her absent love. It is the most famous aria in the opera, and one of the most popular pieces for a soprano repertoire.
Rosina Storchio performed it first at the premiere of Madama Butterfly in February 1904 at the Scala in Milan. Deanna Durbin performed the English version in the 1939 musical movie, First Love.
The Barber of Seville Overture
The highly popular comic opera The Barber of Seville premiered in February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina in Rome. Gioachino Rossini composed some of the most engaging operas, and the Barber is definitely his masterpiece. It is also a masterpiece of comedy within music.
The original Overture was mysteriously lost after the premiere in 1816. Yet, Rossini recycled some of his old opera themes and created what we know today as the Overture.
The opening of the opera is in typical Rossini style. Slowly, he builds the dynamic up, teasing the listener every time the music begins to swell. And then he comes right back down again. This tempo is what makes the Overture to the Barber an amazing song.
Phantom of the Opera
We cannot have a list of most famous opera songs without one of the most famous operas of all time. The Phantom of the Opera is a rather new and modern opera, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. But it remains one of the most popular.
The song from the 1986 stage musical was originally recorded by Sarah Brightman and Steve Harley. Prior to the premiere of the opera, the song became a UK hit single. Sarah and Michael Crawford sang it in the theatrical debut as Christine Daae and the Phantom.
The song takes place as the Phantom escorts Christine by boat to his lair beneath the Opera Garnier. At the end of the song, Christine sings the highest note in the show. Sarah Brightman has sung the song with many other performers, including Antonio Banderas, Colm Wilkinson, Anthony Warlow, Erkan Aki, and many more.
But fans agree that Michael sang the song the best. In 1991, after more than 1,300 performances as the Phantom, he left the Phantom of the Opera.
The meaning of this song is “Oh Fate”. Written in the 13th century as a medieval Latin poem by German composer Carl Orff, the song is part of the collection Carmina Burana.
O Fortuna has made it into many movies and parodies for dramatic effect. Some of the credits include The Hunt for Red October, The Doors, Natural Born Killers, Jackass: The Movie, Cheaper by the Dozen, Detroit Rock City, and many more.
In 2009, O Fortuna topped BBC’s list of most widely heard classical tracks. The host of the programming called the song a “timeless piece of music that continues to be played, performed, and loved”. Nowadays, it is a classic opera song for chorus and orchestra performance.
Here is another song from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. The character Escamillo sings the song, with the performance part of a grand production on stage.
The song is actually the popular name for the aria “Votre toast, je peux yous le rendre”, which translates to “I Toast you”.
Escamillo, the bullfighter, describes various situations in the bullring through the song, including the cheering of the crowds and the fame that comes with victory.
The Fifth Symphony
We finish off our list of popular opera songs with the Fifth Symphony. Written by Beethoven, the song is one of the most famous and remixed opera songs. The song takes the theme of heroic struggle. Beethoven first explored this struggle in his Third Symphony, but the Fifth one is that made it the most popular.
The Fifth Symphony changed forever what people thought music could do and be. Today, we know it as the Symphony of Fate, and it is the central work for the Beethovenfest.