From Penny Dreadful to Samson and Delilah to the Fifty Greatest Arias of All Time…

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Samson, from the poster for a production of Camille Saint-Saëns opera Samson and Delilah. (https://vaopera.org/experience-2/samson-and-delilah/)

Watching Penny Dreaful on Netflix tonight, I heard a beautiful mezzo-soprano aria and discovered it was called “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix” and was from Act 2 of an opera, Samson and a Delilah (Op. 47) by composer Camille Saint-Saëns.

Photos above: Dorian Gray, left, from the series Penny Dreadful and his opulent ballroom, right, where “boundaries” hold no sway…

I was so moved by the decadence of the scene, and the haunting lilt and fall of the aria, I had to learn more about these beautiful things in operas called “arias”…

Here are the Top 50 based on a list I found online.


Turandot, Act 3: “Nessun dorma” (live at Arena di Verona) by Luciano Pavarotti, Orchestra del Teatro Arena di Verona and Armando Gatto

Rinaldo, HWV 7, Act 2: “Lascia ch’io pianga” by Elin Manahan-Thomas, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Harry Christopers

Gianni Schicchi: “O mio babbino caro” by Pilar Lorengar, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Giuseppe Patanè

La Bohème, Puccini, Act 1: “Che gelida manina” by Mario Del Monaco, Opera Orchestra and Franco Ghione

Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Mozart, K. 620, Act 2: “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” (Queen of the Night’s Aria) by Luciana Serra, Staatskapelle Dresden and Sir Colin Davis

Madama Butterfly, Puccini, Act 2: Un bel dì vedremo by Sylvia Sass, London Symphony Orchestra and Lamberto Gardelli

Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), K. 492, Act 1: “Non più andrai” by Wladimiro Ganzarolli, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis

Turandot, Act 1: “Signore, ascolta” by Montserrat Caballé, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta

Tosca, Act 3: “E lucevan le stelle” by Franco Corelli, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Lorin Maazel

Rusalka, Op. 114: Mesicku na nebi hlubokém (Song to the Moon) by Pilar Lorengar, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Giuseppe Patanè

Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Mozart, K. 620, Act 1: “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja” (Birdcatcher’s Aria) by Hermann Prey, Wiener Philharmoniker and Sir Georg Solti

Lucia di Lammermoor, Act 3: “Il dolce suono” (Mad Scene) by Montserrat Caballé, New Philharmonia Orchestra and Jesús López-Cobos

Tosca, Act 1: “Recondita armonia” by Carlo Bergonzi, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Gianandrea Gavazzeni

Xerxes, HWV 40, Act 1: “Frondi tenere e belle” – “Ombra mai fù” by Dame Janet Baker, English Chamber Orchestra and Raymond Leppard

Carmen, Act 1: “Mais nous ne voyons pas la Carmencita” – “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” (Habanera) by Tatiana Troyanos, London Philharmonic Orchestra, The John Alldis Choir and Sir Georg Solti

Don Giovanni, K. 527, Act 1: “Madamina! Il catalogo è questo” (Catalogue Aria) by Wladimiro Ganzarolli, Covent Garden Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and Sir Colin Davis

Die tote Stadt, Act 1: Glück das mir verblieb (Marietta’s Song) by Pilar Lorengar, Wiener Opernorchester and Walter Weller

Pagliacci, Act 1: “Recitar!… Vesti la giubba” by Mario Del Monaco, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Francesco Molinari-Pradelli

7D67ED05-DAFF-49F4-8E83-85AACB543D44Samson et Dalilah, Saint-Saëns, Op. 47, Act 2: “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix” by Olga Borodina, Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera and Carlo Rizzi

Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), Act 1: “Largo al factotum” (Cavatina) by Hermann Prey, London Symphony Orchestra and Claudio Abbado

Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492, Act 2: Cavatina: “Porgi, amor” by Jessye Norman, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis

Rigoletto, Act 3: “La donna è mobile” by Mario Del Monaco, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Alberto Erede

Orfeo ed Euridice, Act 3: Aria: “Che farò senza Euridice?” by Dame Janet Baker, English Chamber Orchestra and Raymond Leppard

Così fan tutte, K. 588, Act 1: “Un’aura amorosa” by Francisco Araiza, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Sir Neville Marriner

Tosca, Act 2: “Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore” by Carol Vaness, Philadelphia Orchestra and Riccardo Muti

Die Walküre: “Leb wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind” by George London, Wiener Philharmoniker and Hans Knappertsbusch

La Wally, Act 1: “Ebben? Ne andrò lontana” by Maria Chiara, The National Philharmonic Orchestra and Kurt Herbert Adler

Carmen, Act 2: “Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre” – “Toréador, en garde” (Toreador’s Song) by Nicolai Ghiaurov, London Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus and Sir Edward Downes

Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), K. 492, Act 2: “Voi che sapete” by Elly Ameling, English Chamber Orchestra and Edo de Waart

Dido and Aeneas, Z. 626, Act 3: Thy hand, Belinda… When I am laid in earth (Dido’s lament) by Elin Manahan-Thomas, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Harry Christopers

Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers), Act 1: “Je crois entendre encore” (Romance) by Léopold Simoneau, Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux and Jean Fournet

Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), Act 1: “Una voce poco fa” by Teresa Berganza, London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Alexander Gibson

Eugene Onegin, Op. 24: “Lyubvi vsye vozrasti pokorni” by Nicolai Ghiaurov, London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Edward Downes

Zaide, K. 344, Act 1: “Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben” by Emma Kirkby, The Academy of Ancient Music and Christopher Hogwood

Madama Butterfly, Act 3: “Tu, tu piccolo Iddio” (Death of Butterfly) by Pilar Lorengar, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Jesús López-Cobos

L’elisir d’amore: “Una furtiva lagrima… Eccola!” (attacca) by Giuseppe Di Stefano, Hilde Gueden, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Francesco Molinari-Pradelli

Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Mozart, K. 620, Act 1: “Oh zittre nicht, mein Lieber Sohn” by Wilma Lipp, Wiener Philharmoniker and Karl Böhm

Carmen, Act 2: “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” (Flower Song) by Plácido Domingo, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Georg Solti

Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow), Act 2: Vilja Song by Renata Tebaldi

Don Giovanni, K. 527, Act 2: “Deh, vieni alla finestra” (Serenade) by Cesare Siepi, Wiener Philharmoniker and Erich Leinsdorf

Andrea Chénier, Act 3: “La mamma morta” by Maria Chiara, The National Philharmonic Orchestra and Kurt Herbert Adler

Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492: “E Susanna non vien!… Dove sono” by Jessye Norman, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis

Madama Butterfly, Act 3: “Addio fiorito asil” by Mario Del Monaco, New Symphony Orchestra and Alberto Erede

Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620, Act 2: O Isis und Osiris by Kurt Böhme, Wiener Philharmoniker, Wiener Staatsopernchor and Karl Böhm

Otello, Act 4: “Mia madre aveva… Piangea cantando nell’erma landa” (Willow song) – “Ave Maria” by Felicia Weathers, Wiener Opernorchester and Argeo Quadri

Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K. 620, Act 1: “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön” by Peter Schreier, Staatskapelle Dresden and Sir Colin Davis

Samson et Dalilah, Saint-Saëns Op. 47, Act 1: Printemps qui commence by Olga Borodina, Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera and Carlo Rizzi

La forza del destino: Il santo nome… Il santo speco – La Vergine degli angeli (Hymn) by Cesare Siepi, Fernando Corena, Renata Tebaldi, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia and Francesco Molinari-Pradelli

Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), K. 384, Act 3: “Ha! Wie will ich triumphieren” by Robert Lloyd, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Sir Colin Davis

Tristan and Isolde, Act 3: “Mild und leise wie er lächelt” (Isoldes Liebestod) by Birgit Nilsson and Hans Knappertsbusch

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