Opera is about many different things. But one continuing theme at the root of opera is love. It examines why we love, and what love signifies in erotic, emotional and spiritual terms, its comic triumphs and its tragedies and failures. During this season of love, I thought it would be interesting to ask colleagues and friends what would be their favorite love aria. Here are some of the responses:
‘En fermant les yeux. (From Manon by Jules Messenet) It's just.....yeah. Beautiful. ‘
‘My favorite love aria is Lullaby (from the Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti). Though it may seem a bit unconventional it is true love from a Grandmother to a child that she cannot save but can only give comfort to.’
‘My top choice is "Deh vieni, non tardar" from Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart. At this point (the very end of Act IV), Susanna is dressed as the Countess and Figaro believes that she is waiting in earnest for the Count to meet her for their secret rendez-vous. The recitative is deliberately calculated to make Figaro even more jealous, but as Susanna sings the aria, she speaks directly to her real love, telling him that she wants to crown him with roses and stay with him in the garden "until the sky turns brown"--that is, all night. It's a gorgeous moment, sensuous and romantic (even if Figaro doesn't know it), and it's the only time Susanna gets to sit still for a second and sing an aria.’
‘I would have to say Salome's aria / scene. 'Ah, du wolltest mich nicht deinen Mund Küssen lassen' (Ah, You Wouldn't Let Me Kiss Your Mouth'). Salome sings to the decapitated head of John the Baptist. True love. ‘ (from Salome by Richard Strauss)
‘This is hard for me to answer. I don't have one aria. Usually I fall madly in love with the character I'm playing or the one that I'm learning. So I would have to say Un bel di (from Madama Butterfly by Puccini). It's filled with all the dreams and beliefs that one can have when you're so in love with your mate....even if it's all just an innocent girls dreams.’
‘Vissi D’arte (from Tosca by Puccini)..Emotion’
‘O Mio Babbino Caro (from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini). I know it is over done, but I still think the melody is stunning. And yes, she may be a whiny little girl, but Puccini really knew what he was doing on that one. Young love is wonderful and uninhibited. There is a charm and innocence to it, while still being deeply moving when done well.’
‘I think my favorite of them all is Faust's aria "Salut, demeure chaste et pure." (from Faust by Charles Gounod) And I'll tag on the earlier scene between the waltz when Faust sings "je t'aime" up to that B natural. ‘
'Oh Dieu Brahma from Bizet's Pearl Fishers. I'm a sucker for Bizet...'
'Dies Bildnis (from The Magic Flute by Mozart) - talk about love at first sight! ; )'
As you can see, love comes in many varieties, shapes and forms. It has been expressed beautifully by some of our most prolific composers. We, at Third Eye Theatre Ensemble, wish you love not just during Valentine's Day season, but all year round!