Desert Island opera: baroque, classical, or romantic?
If you had to choose, which of these three great composer's operas would you take to a desert isle—Handel, Mozart, or Verdi? And why? To help in your deliberations, here are samples of works by all three, which are available on our website.
Handel's dramatic, fast-moving oratorio Saul is an opera in everything but name only. This meditative soprano/chorus passage displays a beautifully subtle use of trills.
At present, Die Zauberflöte is the most frequently performed opera in the world. Mozart's last opera, The Magic Flute has something for the highbrows, the lowbrows, and everyone in between, from charming arias and duets for the lovers Tamino and Tamina to rafter-shaking outpourings from the Queen of the Night. Yes, Diana Damrau's
attire, makeup, and gestures are a drag queen's dream, but that's what
you gotta do to put the role across to the back rows of the opera
house! (Above: Librettist Emanuel Schikaneder in the role of the "bird man" Papageno and an 1816 costume design for the character.) Here's a sweet little interlude with the three boys from Ingmar Bergman's 1976 film version.
Finally, I present legendary diva Leontyne Price, in a scene from Verdi's Il Trovatore, sung live at the Met with Franco Corelli, and in "Tacea la notte placide" from the same opera. If that doesn't tug at your heartstrings, I don't know what will!