Opera and Oratorio

The fourth album in the Classical Collection contains immediately recognisable vocal works from famous operas and oratorios, including The Barber of Seville, Madame Butterfly and Carmen.

Listen to five tracks from the album

Un Bel Di (One Beautiful Day) is the most famous aria from Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

It opens Act II, where Butterfly has been abandoned by her faithless American lover, but still clings to the hope that he will return.

In the film Fatal Attraction, Glenn Close’s character is obsessed with the opera and attempts suicide to Un Bel Di.

This aria, from The Barber of Seville, is considered one of the hardest in the baritone repertoire. Due to its tempo rubato – meaning expressive and rhythmic freedom – the piece relies heavily on the interaction between singer and orchestra.

An adaptation of an early opera by Giovanni Paisiello, the audience stormed the stage in protest at Gioachino Rossini’s revised Barber - nowadays, it’s considered the superior work and the best of Rossini’s oeuvre.

Largo Al Factotum has been parodied in a number of cartoons, including Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry, as well in the film Mrs. Doubtfire.

Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves is from Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco, an opera based on the Biblical story of the exile of the Jews from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.

A performance of Chorus formed part of the state funeral of Verdi, the largest public assembly ever to take place in Italy. This piece was featured in the film The Color of Money.

The popular name for Love is a Rebellious Bird, Habanera marks the entrance of the title character in Georges Bizet’s Carmen.

The opera tells the story of Don José, a naïve soldier who is beguiled and then betrayed by the fiery gypsy Carmen. Controversial upon its release, it has gone on to become one of the most consistently popular operas.

This piece has featured in films and TV programmes such as Up and Six Feet Under.

This setting of Ave Maria is comprised of a melodic line by Charles Gounod superimposed over a prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Unusually, this collaboration is the work of two composers whose lives didn't overlap - Gounod's melody was written 130 years after Bach's piano accompaniment.

The piece has become a fixture at weddings and funerals.


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