Renée Fleming names the six greatest soprano arias of all time

3 July 2019, 15:07 | Updated: 4 July 2019, 16:17

By Rosie Pentreath

The best and most loved soprano arias of all time lie in the works of Puccini and Richard Strauss, the great opera singer tells us.

Opera royalty Renée Fleming has named her six favourite soprano arias of all time (watch our interview with her above).

Speaking to Classic FM, Fleming says: “Favourite arias for soprano start with Giacomo Puccini”. She names ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Gianni Schicchi, ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ from Madam Butterfly and ‘Vissi d’arte’ from Tosca among the greatest – and universally the most popular – arias written for soprano voice.

“Trust me, I have combed the repertoire,” the Grammy Award-winning singer laughs. “‘O mio babbino caro’ is definitely my go-to.”

Read more: Renée Fleming is the queen of everything and here’s exactly why

Renée Fleming stars in 'The Light In The Piazza'
Renée Fleming stars in 'The Light In The Piazza'. Picture: Getty

She goes on to talk about Richard Strauss and his impact on the operatic genre before naming Korngold’s ‘Marietta’s Lied’ from Die Tote Stadt as a final favourite.

“The final scene from Arabella, or certainly Der Rosenkavalier, which doesn’t have any arias per say, but has that exquisite trio at the end”, Fleming says.

Here is her full list, which you can hear her talk about in the video above.

Renée Fleming names six of the most loved soprano arias of all time

  1. ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Puccini’s ‘Gianni Schicchi’

    “‘O mio babbino caro’ is an exquisite melody with a beautiful sense of longing as [the protagonist] asks her father if she can marry the boy that she loves and she threatens to jump in the river if he says no. It’s incredibly charming but also an immediately recognisable melody.”

  2. ‘Un bel dì vedremo’ from Puccini’s ‘Madam Butterfly’

    “A fantastic melody and a tragic story, and one that we all adore, about the young girl who falls in love with Captain Pinkerton and is abandoned by him.”

  3. ‘Vissi d’arte’ from Puccini’s ‘Tosca’

    “This is also an incredibly beloved opera. Typically tragic for the heroine (this is no exception) and this aria goes ‘I live for art, I live for beauty, why God have you forsaken me, why is this happening to me?’ … This is the culmination of the most dramatic scene.”

  4. The finale from Richard Strauss’ ‘Arabella’

    “My favourite arias have a lot to do with Richard Strauss.”

  5. The trio from Richard Strauss’ ‘Der Rosenkavalier’

    “Exquisite.”

  6. ‘Marietta’s Lied’ from Korngold’s ‘Die Tote Stadt’

    “'Marietta’s Lied’ from Korngold is one of the most beautiful, most moving arias, that I sing because of the length of the line and the way the line spins out. There’s very little that’s more beautiful than this”.

Renee Fleming stars in The Light In The Piazza at London’s Southbank until Friday 5 July. Visit southbankcentre.co.uk.