Myleene Klass plays five famous opera tunes at the piano – can you guess them all?

27 April 2023, 12:05

Myleene Klass plays the piano backstage at the Royal Albert Hall
Myleene Klass plays the piano backstage at the Royal Albert Hall. Picture: Classic FM
Classic FM

By Classic FM

The Classic FM presenter and ‘I’m a Celebrity’ star plays some of opera’s most recognisable works backstage at the Royal Albert Hall. See if you can name them all...

Earlier this month, Myleene Klass hosted Classic FM Live, a night of operatic hits at the Royal Albert Hall, alongside her fellow Classic FM presenter, Alexander Armstrong.

But before she stepped onto the renowned stage to present a concert starring Danielle De Niese, Malakai Bayoh, Michael Spyres, and the English National Opera Orchestra and Chorus, she performed a selection of opera tunes backstage on the piano in her dressing room.

Adorned in a variety of colourful props, Myleene, who is a classically trained pianist, played through five famous arias and operatic overtures backstage.

But can you recognise every tune she’s playing? Watch the video below, make your guesses, and then scroll down to reveal the answers...

Myleene Klass plays 5 famous opera tunes at the piano – can you guess them all?

Read more: Who is Myleene Klass? Everything there is to know about Classic FM’s Calm Classics presenter

Did you recognise them all?

Scroll down to reveal which iconic opera works Myleene played backstage at Classic FM Live...

  1. Song 1 – Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’

    Clip shows amazing performance of Wagner's Ride Of The Valkyries on a pipe organ

    Originally written as the fanfare opening to the third act of Wagner’s opera Die Walküre, this iconic orchestral work is a staple of any classical music fan’s repertoire.

    The opera was first performed in June 1870, and within the next few months, Wagner was receiving letters from all over requesting that the instrumental ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ be performed as a standalone concert work.

    At first, Wagner went as far as to forbid this from happening, but due to popularity, the composer relented and even conducted it himself seven years later in London.

    The thunderously triumphant work is one of the genre’s most recognisable, thanks to its use in a host of cinematic settings, most notably as an accompaniment to the helicopter flight scene from the 1979 film, Apocalypse Now.

  2. Song 2 – Bizet’s ‘Habanera’

    Carmen - Habanera (Bizet; Anna Caterina Antonacci, The Royal Opera)

    The sultry ‘Habanera’ is the popular name for the aria ‘L’amour est un oiseau rebelle’ from Bizet’s 1875 Carmen.

    The descending solo, performed by the opera’s titular mezzo-soprano role on her entrance, begins with Carmen singing, ‘Love is a rebellious bird that none can tame’.

    The distinctive, dance-like rhythm played in the orchestral accompaniment is what gives the aria its popular name; the ‘Habanera’ is a Cuban dance style that originated in the late 19th century in Havana.

    Bizet’s use of this rhythm, alongside his use of tambourine, castanets, and snare drum, is a nod to the opera’s evocative Spanish setting.

  3. Song 3 – Mozart’s ‘Queen of the Night’

    Soprano Rainelle Krause flawlessly sings Mozart’s ‘Queen of the Night’ aria UPSIDE DOWN

    Mozart’s spectacular coloratura aria ‘Der Hölle Rache’ from The Magic Flute is always guaranteed to be a showstopper.

    Arguably one of the most fiendish Mozart arias in the repertoire, the work for solo soprano shoots up to an astonishingly high F6 above top C.

    The lyrics describe the Queen’s fit of rage, as she sings of the ‘vengeance of hell’ boiling in her heart, and ‘death and despair’ flaming about her.

    As she sings she plunges a knife into her daughter’s hands, instructing her to kill the sorcerer Sarastro, her long-time rival. The daringly high notes match the drama of the scene.

    Read more: Incredible soprano sings ‘Queen of the Night’ aria while upside down on aerial silks

  4. Song 4 – Puccini’s ‘Nessun Dorma’

    Adam Lambert performs stunning version of Nessun Dorma with Queen

    Puccini’s acclaimed tenor aria, from his opera Turandot, is performed by the protagonist, Calaf, who falls in love with Princess Turandot at first sight.

    Before the aria, Calaf has successfully answered all three of her riddles – her peculiar prerequisite for suitors wishing to marry her – but she is still rebuking his advances.

    The libretto to ‘Nessun Dorma’ tells of how Calaf is sure in his plans to marry the princess as he has challenged her to find out his name by morning; if she cannot learn his name by the time the sun rises, she has to marry him.

    Despite having origins in the opera house, the aria found its place in popular culture after legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti performed it as the anthem for the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

    Today you’ll hear the soaring solo on talent shows, in films, and even sung by pop stars such as Jennifer Hudson and Queen frontman, Adam Lambert.

    Read more: Queen lead singer performs Puccini’s ‘Nessun dorma’ and it’s hugely impressive

  5. Song 5 – Rossini’s William Tell Overture

    Rossini William Tell Overture Final

    For his 39th opera, Rossini turned to the legend of William Tell with a French libretto by Étienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Bis, based on a play by Friedrich Schiller.

    In setting the drama of Switzerland’s 14th-century freedom fighter, Rossini used a much more refined style than was to be found in his previous, more ostentatious works. The opera premiered at the Paris Opéra at the Salle Le Peletier on 3 August 1829.

    There’s one part of this opera which is more widely known than any other, and it’s of course the Overture.

    It’s one of the most distinctive themes in classical music, and through its use in The Lone Ranger, it’s now almost mandatory music for any fast-paced chase scene.

Listen to Calm Classics with Myleene Klass every Saturday and Sunday from 10pm–1am on Classic FM. Catch up via Global Player.