My Top 10 Favorite Operas

Every once in a while I like to put together a post like this one. Most of the time they don’t get a lot of comments because, well, I figure that folks may look at something like this as taking a lot of time, and I know that the particular style of music or movie doesn’t fit everyone.

Opera Singer by Cliff

So why do I do them? Two reasons.

One, because I have lots of interests, and I like to share my thoughts on things every once in a while.

Two, because I like to consider myself kind of a renaissance guy, and I know a lot of people wouldn’t think that I would be the type of guy to like some of the things I do. I don’t know why not, though; after all, I did do a post showing my 19 favorite classical pieces, my top 10 disco favorites, and my 13 favorite singers, and on the first and third some of what’s below is repeated.

Why opera?

First, I was a music and history major in college, and I grew to enjoy opera a lot while in college, probably because of music history class, where we had to listen to all sorts of songs and be able to give all sorts of information about what we were listening to.

Second, as I listened to a lot of this stuff, I realized just how many of these songs were in the Warner Brothers cartoons I grew up watching and loving; that makes a lot of sense if you think about it. lol

Third, my dad loved classical music and loved to sing, and every once in a while he’d be watching opera on TV and I’d sit and listen with him. Whenever I’m on the road, the day I come home always starts with an opera in the early morning, and when it’s done then it’s time for something upbeat. But opera always comes first. 🙂

Did I always know what was going on? Not even close! Sometimes I did, and when I started going to operas, they’d have the lyrics posted above the stage so you can kind of follow along. You see in English what they’re saying in other languages. I’ll tell you the truth, most of the time I love the choruses more than the solo performances, probably because I was in a choir, and my dad loved choir music a lot.

What you see below are my top 10 favorites, in reverse order. I’m not giving the kind of detail I often do with these things, but I will tell a few stories before I start.

For instance, the reason Carmen is at the top of my list is because it’s the first opera I ever “kind of” saw live on TV.

Porgy & Bess is here because I knew a lot of songs from it before I ever knew it was an opera, and almost all black people at the same time; imagine my surprise at that one.

Lohengrin is on here because I had always planned on having a chorus at my wedding singing the Wedding March, which comes from it, but of course that didn’t happen.

Hansel & Gretel is the first opera I ever remember seeing on TV, on PBS, and I watched it with my dad.

Most of the rest… well, I love the love stories in operas, even though they don’t usually end well, and most of these are, to a degree, love stories. The Mikado; it just makes me laugh.

What’s not on the list? Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti. It was the first opera I saw in person here in the Syracuse, NY area, and my first time sitting in a box seat; that was epic! If I wanted to do a list of top 11, it would be on that list, but the number doesn’t fit. lol

Who says I don’t have culture? Anyway, that’s that; enjoy!

10. Tristan & Isolde

9. Otello (Kiri Te Kanawa)

8. Madame Butterfly (movie)

7. Romeo & Juliet

6. HMS Pinafore

5. Hansel & Gretel

4. Lohrengrin (wedding march; a choral version)

3. Porgy and Bess

(On this one, if you remember the TV show The Jeffersons, the lead singer here was the second Lionel, before they went back to the original for the last year)

2. The Mikado

1. Carmen


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2 thoughts on “My Top 10 Favorite Operas”

  1. I didn’t know you were an opera buff, Mitch, but as you said, why not? 🙂 Thanks for sharing your list! My mother was bent on giving me a cultural education as a child, so she took me to the opera a few times, as well as the ballet and the theatre, mostly when we lived in Germany. I also had a teacher who organized once a month school trips to the opera in a city nearby. Don Quixote, Carmen, and Madame Butterfly were favourites. I’d love to see Tristan and Isolde and also Porgy and Bess (“Summertime” is a favourite song).

    1. A common spirit! 🙂 I’ve seen 5 of these in person, Porgy and Bess twice. The Carmen I saw in person had a lead that used to have a video of her performance on YouTube; I haven’t seen it there in years, but it’s probably still around. I’m sort of ashamed I didn’t include Lucia di Lammermoor, but it was position #11; oh well… 😀

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