Opera Top Ten

Again via UD--a list of the top ten arias as voted by radio 3 listeners.

The surprise winner (not to UD, but certainly to much of the rest of the opera-listening world), to my great surprise and joy, is Henry Purcell's "When I am Laid in Earth,"  the final aria of Queen Dido from Dido and Aeneas.  But the remainder of the list contains a number of surprises as well--Russalka, an opera by Korngold and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.  I know I'm mundane, but I do like both "Nessun Dorma" and "Der Holle Rache" (which did make the list)  as well as the entire Alban Berg canon.

And below you can choose your "When I am Laid in Earth,"  clip one featuring the incomparable Janet Baker, clip two Jessye Norman,

Janet Baker



Jessye Norman


And now for something completely different--The Swingle Singers



And with that, it is not difficult to see why those in the know might have chosen such a magnificent aria.

Somewhat more difficult to explain--thought still within reason is the presence of Wagner on the list--although the "Leibestod" from Tristan and Isolde, show in two samples below:

Waltraud Meier



Birgit Nilsson in Concert (Arguably one of the greatest of the Wagnerian performers).




Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of Wagner, have been for a very long time.  But I'm not certain I would place any of his great music among  (even this) among the great arias in all of Opera.  But then, I must also qualify my remarks by saying that I am not very well-versed in Opera.  I just know what I like when I hear it.

And as an aside--isn't You Tube a wonder?  You'll be able to hear nearly all, if not all of these top ten by several different performers all in a matter of moments.  There are many who suggest that the internet is making us stupider.  While I might say that immediate access to all of the information you can find there may have a profound effect on memory (witness the transition from a preliterate society to post Gutenberg), I can't help but think that access to much of the world's artistic beauty is a detriment to our intellects or taste.  (Yes, I know, in addition to Purcell, you can also find an nearly infinite supply of Lady Gaga, but in the overall balance. . . )

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