It is without a doubt that classical music will always thrive no matter the generation. Opera songs, for example, are still patronized by many. From the Magic Flute’s infamous aria to Carmen’s Habanera, both adult and young people enjoy the sophisticated and alluring charm of classical pieces.
Perhaps, you are one of them!
If yes, then look no further. This article covers the ten most loved opera songs of all time that, of course, you should check out too.
Famous Opera Songs to Listen To
1. The Queen of the Night’s Aria
Known as one of the most popular and interpreted opera songs across the globe, Queen of the Night’s aria is an opera song written by Mozart and is part of the stage play The Magic Flute. The piece was written in 1971 and was first performed in September of the same year by Mozart’s sister-in-law, Josepha Hofer.
The aria is also recognized as one of the most difficult pieces to sing. With its Mariah Carey level of note—which is F6 above top C—it is often played by for the most daring sopranos only.
The song talks about the Queen’s anger, betrayal, and revenge towards her daughter Pamina, as her position as the queen is threatened by the sorcerer named Sarasatro who Pamina is thinking about joining.
Here’s a video of the song part of The Magic Flute play:
2. Canto Della Terra
When it comes to contemporary pieces, Andrea Bocelli’s Canto Della Torre leads the pack. It is an Italian song that came out under Bocelli’s 1999 album Sogno. It was written by Lucio Quarantotto (lyrics) and Francesco Sartori (melody).
The song was performed solo but later on, was recorded as a duet with Sarah Brightman as Bocelli’s partner. It was the rerecorded year by McElderry (the winner of X Factor 2009) as part of his album Classics.
Popularly known as L’amour est un Oiseau Rebelle (Love is a Rebellious Bird), Habanera is an aria sung by the female lead character in the opera Carmen. The opera was written by Georges Bizet with libretto by Ludovic Halevy and Henry Meilhac based on the novel Carmen by Prosper Merimee.
Habanera, which means the Havanan dance, is the most interpreted opera song in the world of classical music. But not when it was first premiered at Opera Comique. And, in fact, was not received well by the French audience and was criticized as “French music wanting to pass Spanish Music.”
It, however, gained popularity after Bizet’s sudden death.
The Habanera is a song sung by Carmen in the first act as a response to the group of soldiers who asked the female workers, including Carmen, when they will love them.
4. Je Veux Vivre
Another classic, Je Veux Vivre is an aria sung by the female lead character (Juliette) in the opera Romeo et Juliette (Romeo and Juliette). The song was first performed on April 27, 1867, at the Theatre-Lyrique Imperial de Chatelet—also known as Theatre Lyrique—in Paris.
Je Veux Vivre is Juliette’s first aria in the play and a response to her nurse who insists on marrying Paris.
Romeo et Juliette is a five-act opera based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It was written by Charles Gounod with libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carre.
5. Tatiana’s Letter Scene
From one of the well-known classical composers Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Tatiana’s Letter Scene is an aria sung in the three acts opera Eugene Onegin (Yevgeny Onegin). The aria is about a young girl named Tatiana—the female lead character—who talks about her feelings towards Eugene Onegin—a visitor from Saint Petersburg and is characterized as emotionally distant—through writing letters.
The opera, as well as the libretto, was written solely by the Russian composer, Tchaikovsky. The opera was first performed in 1879 in Moscow.
6. Quando M’en Vo
From the opera La Boheme, Quando M’en Vo is a soprano aria sung by Musetta, the female protagonist in the play. The opera is a four acts play composed by Giacomo Puccini with Guiseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica as the libretto. It was first premiered at Teatro Regio on February 1, 1896; and has since then become Italy’s standard opera repertory.
Quando M’en Vo is a waltz in act two wherein Musetta, surrounded by her friends at the cafe, tries to captivate the attention of her occasional boyfriend named Marcello. The aria is also “directed to the people in the café rather than the audience in the theatre.”
7. Flower Duet
Another classic, Flower Duet is one of the most popular female operas in the industry performed for the opera Lakme. It is an aria sung in a duet for mezzo-soprano and soprano. It was performed by the characters Lakme, the daughter of a Brahmin priest, with her servant Mallika as both went to the river to gather flowers.
Flower Duet was first premiered in 1883 in Paris. It was written by Leo Delibes to French libretto Philippe Gille and Edmond Gondinet. And even before the start of World War II, the aria has received more than 1,000 interpretations across the world.
The piece is also used frequently in movies and commercials too such as Meet the Parents and British Airways Face Advertisements.
8. Ride of the Valkyries
Popularly known as “Ride,” Ride of the Valkyries is a piece from Richard Wagner’s four opera Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). The piece Wagner’s most popular song, together with the “Bridal Chorus” from another opera of his named Lohengrin.
Specifically, it is performed at the beginning of the second opera named Die Walkure. It was first composed by Wagner in 1854 and was fully orchestrated in March 1856.
Moreover, the Ride is an eight-minute piece that takes place at the beginning of the third act. It is performed as the eight Valkyrie sisters Bruunhilde gather in the mountain peak to prepare the transportation of Valhalla’s fallen heroes.
The piece is typically heard as an instrumental as well—which lasts for three minutes only—rather than its original version.
9. Deh Vieni, Non Tardar
The piece Deh Vieni, Non Tardar is another masterpiece by Mozart, from his comic opera Marriage of Figaro. The opera is composed of four acts and was written with an Italian libretto.
The song is about the servants Susanna and Figaro, who both successfully defy Count Almaviva’s wish to marry one another. In this scene, you will see Susanna teasing Figaro as he hides behind the bush.
Last but definitely not the least is L’Orfeo. Also called La Davola d’Orfeo, L’Orfeo is an early Baroque and a late Renaissance opera. It is considered the first major opera in history as well. The opera talks about the story of Orpheus who is trying to save Eurydice, his beloved.
Classical music such as opera songs are indeed timeless. Its sophisticated and often emotionally-driven sounds captivate not only elders and grown up adults, but also young folks. A proof that even after decades, opera songs, together with stage plays, will continue to flourish.
That said, if you are bored of tuning in to the same classical pieces you have been listening, then make sure to check the ten opera songs I recommended above!
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.