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Female opera singer dressed in period costume under the spotlight on the stage

Listening Guides

Get to know the music of some of the world's most famous operas. 

Beautiful melodies, lush orchestrations and grand arias! Opera is rich with details that help convey the emotion and passion of a story. There is always something new to be discovered when listening to the intricacies of a score. 

We’ve put all our listening guides together in one place, so you can get to know your favourite operas a little better – or perhaps learn about an opera you’re less familiar with. 

Take a look at one of our video playlists and listen to opera's most famous tunes. It’s time to sit back and enjoy.


RigolettO

Verdi's Rigoletto is an emotional journey full of bold and expressive melodies. Each character has their own unique 'theme' music: a rhythmic or harmonic pattern that signifies their entrance into the action. It also features opera's catchiest tune, 'La donna è mobile', which you'll recognise from ads, movies and anything else you can put your finger on!
 

Purchase our production of Rigoletto on DVD or Blu-ray here


La Traviata

From the famous drinking song 'Brindisi' to the showstopper 'Sempre libera', La Traviata is the world's most performed opera for a reason. Verdi was a master of conveying emotion through melody and instrument choice; this is obvious in this opera's arias, which may sound simple, but are in fact very difficult to sing. 
 

Purchase our production of La Traviata on Sydney Harbour on DVD or Blu-ray here


Simon Boccanegra 

Simon Boccanegra was almost forgotten — imagine that! Verdi described its premiere as a fiasco, and didn't revist the opera till years later. This epic tale is set by the sea, and Verdi uses music to paint a picture of its peace and power throughout the opera. This is obvious from the first bars of the overture, which gently 'rock' back and forth like waves.
 


The Force of Destiny

In The Force of Destiny, Verdi shows off his musical expertise and range of styles. This opera features his most famous overture; from its opening notes you will be swept up in the action-packed melodrama of this thrilling opera. 
 


La Bohème

Puccini's La Bohème is full of tunes that will tug at your heartstrings. The most famous is 'Musetta’s Waltz'; you might know the 1959 Della Reese pop song, 'Don’t You Know', based on this standout tune. It was also the theme song for the film Moonstruck and is often referenced in movies, television programs and ads.
 

Purchase our production of La Bohème on Sydney Harbour on DVD or Blu-ray here


TurANDOT

Puccini based several themes in Turandot on traditional Chinese melodies. Listen out for the folk melody 'jasmine flower' — a sort of ‘leitmotif’ or theme for the princess. The showstopper of this opera is 'Nessun dorma', which is probably the most famous aria ever written. This aria became a global sensation when Pavarotti sang it at the FIFA world cup in 1990. 
 

Purchase our production of Turandot on Sydney Harbour on DVD or Blu-ray here


TOSCA

From tender love duets to mournful arias, and the awe-inspiring 'Te Deum' Chorus, Puccini's Tosca is filled with music to make you feel. One if its most famous aria's is 'Vissi d'arte', a gorgeous soprano showpiece reflecting on a life lived for art.
 


Così Fan Tutte

Sensuous, harmonious, stunning! This opera contains some of Mozart's most beautiful music. The hit aria 'Come scoglio immoto resta' is a lesson in musical irony: as the soprano sings of her steadfast fidelity the melody line leaps and falls in huge bounds, ever unsteady! Mozart reportedly wrote it this way to make the singer's head 'bob like a chicken', as he didn't like the soprano set to play the role.
 


The Magic FLute

Mozart's fantastical opera, The Magic Flute, is filled with beautiful melodies and lots of decorative notes. In the Queen of the Night's famous aria, the soprano has the incredibly difficult task of a hitting a high F note over and over again.
 


Carmen

Sultry tunes and infectious rhythms set the scene for Carmen. Bizet incorporates exotic Spanish music into the score — the Seguidilla that Carmen dances in the hillside, accompanied by castanets, and the Habanera, based on an original Spanish folk song.
 

Purchase our production of Carmen on Sydney Harbour here


Don Pasquale

Donizetti's comedy is filled with gorgeous music, and some incredible 'patter' singing. In the Act III duet, the men race through the song, cramming two syllables to every beat. Donizetti also made an innovation in this opera, scoring the orchestra to play through the recitatives (sung speech), which were traditionally accompanied by fortepiano.
 


Albert Herring

Haven't heard of this one? That's probably because this comic opera was only written in the 20th century! Since its premiere at Glyndebourne in 1947, Britten’s Albert Herring has become a classic comprising a keenly observed, witty libretto and an evocative score.
 


 

Playlists

Hear some of the world's greatest singers perform the most memorable music from these operas.

Verdi
Watch: Rigoletto
Watch: La Traviata
Watch: Simon Boccanegra
Watch: The Force of Destiny

Puccini
Watch: La Bohème
Watch: Turandot
Watch: Tosca

Mozart
Watch: Così fan tutte
Watch: The Magic Flute

Bizet
Watch: Carmen

Donizetti
Watch: Don Pasquale

Britten
Watch: Albert Herring