Operatic lovers

'Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a.....' no sorry, not in opera. More like love and tragedy! This has proven to be a winning combination for over four centuries and has been the theme of many of the most popular operas ever written. Explore the stories behind five tragic favourites below...

La Traviata


La Traviata


The lovers..
Violetta Valéry - a Paris courtesan and nobleman Alfredo Germont

A very brief synopsis...
After admiring from afar, Alfredo confesses his love to Violetta at a party held in her Paris apartment. The couple live happily together for three months, however Alfredo's father convinces Violetta that the relationship has been a scandal and she must break it off with him. Violetta gives in and Alfredo, who is oblivious to the arrangement, is bitter towards her. Violetta suffers with tuberculosis throughout the opera, however by the end she is dying. Alfredo finds out the truth, however as they are finally re-united she tragically dies.

Listen out for...
'Parigi, O Cara, noi lasceremo'  (We shall fly from Paris, beloved) - the final duet in the last act sung as Violetta approaches death in the arms of Alfredo.    

Download Parigi, O Cara, noi lasceremo  from iTunes


La Traviata
Suggested recording...

Angela Gheorghiu, Frank Lopardo, etc Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden - Sir Georg Solti  DECCA 448 119-2DHO

Order your copy from Amazon

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dido and Aeneas

The lovers..
Dido - Queen of Carthage and Aeneas, the Trojan Prince

A very brief synopsis...
An opera based on the story of the Queen of Carthage Dido and the Trojan refugee Aeneas. When Aeneas and his crew are shipwrecked in Carthage, he and the queen fall in love. However Aeneas must leave to found Rome, leaving the Dido brokenhearted and awaiting death.

Listen out for...
'When I am laid in earth' - Dido's Lament - the last aria as the opera and Dido's life both come to an end after she rejects Aeneas for leaving her.

Download When I am laid in earth from iTunes


Dido
Suggested recording...

Sarah Connolly, Gerald Finley, etc Choir & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - Steven Devine (director) Elizabeth Kenny (conductor) CHANDOS CHAN0757

Order your copy from Amazon

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Madam Butterfly

The lovers..
American Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San (Madam Butterfly) - a geisha girl with whom he has a temporary marriage.

A very brief synopsis...
Set in Japan during the early 20th Century, Pinkerton marries geisha girl Cio-Cio-San - a marriage that can be ended on a month's notice. They have a son together - Sorrow, however Pinkerton abandons Cio-Cio-San for an American wife. Three years later Pinkerton and his new wife arrive at Butterfly's house to propose they take Sorrow to live with them. Cio-Cio-San reluctantly surrenders him and after bidding farewell commits suicide.

Listen out for...
'Vogliatemi bene' - the final part of the love duet when Butterfly pleads with Pinkerton to 'Love Me Please'. Pinkerton embraces her and says 'I have caught you. You are mine.' She replies, 'Yes, for life.'

Download Vogliatemi bene from iTunes


Madam Butterfly
Suggested recording...

Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, etc Vienna State Opera Chorus/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - Herbert von Karajan - DECCA 4175772

Order your copy from Amazon

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

La Bohème

The lovers..
Parisian bohemians Mimi and Rodolfo

A very brief synopsis...
An effusive poet, Rodolfo falls in love with his beautiful, but gravely ill neighbour Mimi one Christmas Eve. However within a month all has changed. Rodolfo has left Mimi in what she thinks is a fit of jealousy, however Mimi discovers that the actual reason was her illness and his belief that he has nothing to offer her, but bitter poverty. The plot continues to follow the lives of the two lovesick characters, until fate cruelly strikes and brings the story to a tragic close.

Listen out for...
'O soave fanciulla' - 'Oh gentle maiden' Mimi and Rodolfo sing of their newfound love at the end of Act 1.

Download O soave fanciulla from iTunes


La Boheme
Suggested recording...

Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, etc Vienna State Opera Chorus/Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra -Herbert von Karajan - DECCA 4780254

Order your copy from Amazon

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tosca

The lovers..
A beautiful opera singer - Floria Tosca who is in love with a young painter, Mario Cavaradossi.

A very brief synopsis...
In a bid to help political prisoner - Angelotti, Tosca's lover - Cavaradossi flees from the police, only to be caught and interrogated about the prisoner's whereabouts. Tosca hears the police torturing Cavaradossi, so gives in and reveals Angelotti's hiding place. As a result Cavaradossi faces execution, however Chief of Police, Baron Scarpia gives Tosca the opportunity to save his life in return for a night of love. Tosca stabs Scarpia and tries to save her lover, but fails and with the police hot on her trail she throws herself off the parapet in despair.

Listen out for...
'Vissi d'arte' - sung by Tosca as she thinks of her fate and the endangered life of her lover.

Download Vissi d'arte from iTunes


Tosca
Suggested recording...
Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Algana,etc Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden/Antonio Pappano - EMI 551732

Order your copy from Amazon

Now Playing on Classic FM