Stop! Opera time.
October 8, 2011 9:41 AM   Subscribe

I love opera anyway, but I particularly love the "Caro, Cara" duet from Handel's Faramondo. What are some similarly beautiful opera pieces I should hear?
posted by katillathehun to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Arias generally? Duets? Overtures, intermezzos?

All-time favourite opera aria: The first act trio Soave sia il vento from act 1 of Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart.
posted by Logophiliac at 9:58 AM on October 8, 2011

The Flower Duet from Leo Delibe's Lakme is just about the most famous duet ever - and still one of my favorites.

But listening to the Handel - it sounds like it is relatively light-hearted Baroque style; a lot of opera was written later than Handel, but you should check out other Baroque orotorios and music. I'm a massive Baroque fan, especially for Vivaldi, and if you like Handel I would definitely check out Vivaldi's stuff. In addition to the Four Seasons, he has some excellent choral works.
posted by jb at 9:59 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Logophiliac - any song that can stand on its own musically without requiring the rest of the opera. Some pieces, I've found, can sound dull on their own but are necessary for telling the story.
posted by katillathehun at 10:04 AM on October 8, 2011

Oh, this whole album is sooo for you, if you haven't.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:30 AM on October 8, 2011

Hooboy. There's a mortal ton of 'em, particularly if it doesn't have to be baroque. How about:

Song to the Moon from Rusalka by Dvorak (recorded by just about every soprano--you might start with the Renee Fleming version)
Second act duet "In the depths of the temple" from The Pearl Fishers by Bizet (duet tenor and baritone). Lots of recordings of this too. Lots of bits from Carmen.

"Nessun dorma" from Turandot. Pavarotti really can't be beat for this one.
More Puccini: Cavaradossi's third act aria from Tosca "E lucevan le stelle"--gorgeous sinister beginning (Cavaradossi is to be executed the next morning).
more Mozart: The Queen of the Night's second-act aria from The Magic Flute. Largo all' factotum from The Marriage of Figaro. Sorry, i'll go on all night given half a chance.

Another personal favourite: the aria "For the glory of loving you" from the rare opera Griselda by the even rarer Giovanni Bononcini (a contemporary and sometime competitor of Handel). Possibly the only opera aria recorded by both Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland. Get Pavarotti's version--it's on this disc , of which my copy is not for sale. This is simply the most utterly gorgeous aria of all time. It's available for download though.
posted by Logophiliac at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry, hit post too soon. I could go on and on even though I'm not particularly an opera lover, but lots of suggestions was what you wanted, right?

Handel wrote a lot of operas, and they have some wonderful music in them. He also wrote lots of opera-like compositions like oratorios (of which Messiah is the most famous) and masques--these would probably float your boat too. The difference is that oratorios are concert performance rather than theatre. Masques have dancing as well. Try a collection of highlights from Messiah, and then get hold of the aria "O ruddier than the cherry" from the masque Acis and Galatea (get a proper bass version, preferably Owen Brannigan's).

I may be making an unwarranted assumption here but are you in the habit of listening to an opera all the way through? Beware though of getting hooked on just the standout arias. Opera is musical theatre. Without all the boring stuff in the middle it doesn't exist as opera. Once you've got good and hooked on some arias see a few performances--doesn't have to be the Metropolitan or Covent Garden. I can't listen to a recording of Tosca all the way through (I have a broadcast of it on the radio at the moment and I'm only half attending) but a live performance by the Australian Opera a few years ago hooked me for life. Peter Coleman-Wright as Baron Scarpia casting a little black cloud of malevolence over the Sydney Opera House stage ...

Incidentally, I thoroughly agree about Cecilia Bartoli. I don't specifically know that recording, but everything she does is wonderful.
posted by Logophiliac at 11:13 AM on October 8, 2011

Response by poster: I do often listen to operas all the way through, but for a drive to work, there's no time for that. ;)

Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by katillathehun at 12:11 PM on October 8, 2011

I highly recommend Handel's Giulio Cesare, which is full of excellent tunes and has two similar soprano/mezzo duets, the slow and lovely "Son nata a lagrimar" in the middle and the uptempo "Caro! Bella!" at the end.

There's also his Semele, which is an excellently funny opera in English, and has a few good ensembles: "Prepare then, ye immortal choir" for soprano/mezzo, and "You've undone me! Look not on me" for mezzo/countertenor spring to mind.

The final duet from Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea, "Pur ti miro", is heartstoppingly beautiful and I highly recommend it. It has the same feeling of harmonic suspension-- voices sliding from harmony into dissonance and resolving again. I love it to bits.

Monteverdi's duet Zefiro torna isn't from an opera but a book of "scherzi musicali"-- fun little pieces. It's scored for tenor/tenor but is frequently done by countertenors too.

Henry Purcell's "
Sound The Trumpet" from his birthday ode for Queen Mary is a classic duet much loved by countertenors. I'd also recommend his one-act opera Dido and Aeneas.

Also pretty much all of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.

Hope that's enough to be going on with. There is *scads* of other stuff I could recommend, but I've tried to stay within the Baroque era.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:51 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

(Working link for Zefiro Torna. Sorry about the b0rked one.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:56 PM on October 8, 2011

Puccini - "O mio babino caro" from Gianni Schicchi and "Senza mamma" from Suor Angelica. This duet from The Queen of Spades. Sull'aria from La Nozze di Figaro. "Je veux vivre dans" from Romeo et Juliette. "Al dolce guidami" from Anna Bolena (Donizetti).
posted by Felicity Rilke at 4:04 PM on October 8, 2011

Monteverdi - L'Orfeo
Eccles - The Judgement of Paris
posted by falameufilho at 10:22 PM on October 8, 2011

I pretty much love anything from Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier.
posted by _superconductor at 4:02 AM on October 9, 2011

also, maybe check out Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.
posted by _superconductor at 4:15 AM on October 9, 2011

superconductor: oh yes, that final trio is the most transcendent thing 3 people can do with their clothes on.
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:43 AM on October 9, 2011

« Older First-world Kindle angst...   |   Name this movie! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.