39 Best Opera Songs, All Very Famous

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Alexander Borodin – Polovtsian Dances

Price Igor is one of Russia’s greatest operas, though it isn’t as nearly well-known around the rest of the world. The opera was to be the last composition Borodin worked on, and was unfinished until 3 years after his death when revisions were made to allow it to be performed.

A song that is often performed outside of the context of the opera is Polovtsian Dances. This song moves through many different tempos and feels, some of which will dazzle you with its energetic fervor. 

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – The Tempest OP. 18

If you’re only vaguely familiar with Tchaikovsky, there’s a fair chance you’ve encountered The Tempest at some point in time. As the name would suggest, this specific opera is based on the iconic Shakespeare work of the same title.

This is one of those pieces that is ideal for a relaxing listening session when you have minimal distractions. Its fantasy nature is bound to take you places within your imagination. 

Gaetano Donizetti – Il Dolce Suono

Depicting one’s descent into madness is something that was quite popular throughout many operas. One powerful song that is sung during such a scene is Il Dolce Suono, from Donizetti’s opera, Lucia Di Lammermoor.

This soprano aria is quite moving in the sense that it has a sort of ominous feeling to it. The strings hang in a seemingly suspended tension while the voice commands a presence that will have you completely moved. 

Carl Orff – O Fortuna

Some opera songs have found their way into pop culture, often being featured in films when appropriate. One of the most popular that features an entire chorus is Carl Orff’s song, O Fortuna.

You will recognize this song immediately from its towering, powerful introduction. From there, the song has a sort of rolling nature, which builds in intensity until erupting into a climactic release. 

If you’re in a choir that sings with an orchestra, this is most likely in your repertoire.

Franz Schubert – Ave Maria

All of the sopranos reading this article are probably all too familiar with Franz Schubert’s iconic song, Ave Maria. This is a song that has transcended its original opera altogether and is usually performed as a standalone solo piece.

Ave Maria has a very distinct vocal melody that has the unique knack of pulling on the heartstrings. Because of its religious lyrics, Ave Maria is often heard at funerals before saying goodbye one last time. 

Jacques Offenbach – Belle Nuit O Nuit D’Amour

If you’re a fan of memorable operatic duets, you might already be familiar with Offenbach’s Belle Nuit O Nuit D’Amour. The song comes from The Tales Of Hoffman, which debuted in 1881 and would be his last opera.

Compositionally, Belle Nuit O Nuit D’Amour is modeled in the style of songs that gondoliers would sing when navigating their gondolas. Its melody is so memorable that its essence even found its way into a recent Bob Dylan song released in 2020. 

Jacques Offenbach - Belle Nuit O Nuit D’Amour

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Dies Irae

We’ve already mentioned how Mozart’s Requiem, his final work, is a colossal composition. The third section, Sequentia, opens up with a movement called Dies Irae that should be recognizable to anyone.

This movement opens with an eruption of stern, powerful energy, which could be used to summarize that signature opera sound so many think of. For many, Dies Irae is their favorite section of this entire composition. 

Giuseppe Verdi – Prelude To Act III

Are you familiar with the author, Alexandre Dumas? The name is familiar for The Three Musketeers, and The Count Of Monte Cristo.

What you might not know is that his son was actually a popular playwright in Paris, with one of his works being adapted to the opera by Giuseppe Verdi. Prelude To Act III comes from this opera, entitled La Traviata, which debuted in 1853.

Georges Bizet – Chanson Du Toreador 

Many would agree that Carmen has some of the best music out of any opera. Most of the songs could easily be extrapolated from the opera and sung without its context, and they would still be enjoyable.

Chanson Du Toreador is a song that has certainly found its way into mediums well beyond its original intent. There’s a signature melody that you’d recognize if you’ve ever watched your Saturday morning cartoons.

Georges Bizet – Au Fond Du Temple Saint

When thinking of Bizet and opera, Carmen is rightfully what he is most known for. However, Bizet composed a number of popular operas, including 1863’s The Pearl Fishers.

In fact, this specific opera has one of the best duets in all of operatic history, featuring a part for both a baritone and a tenor. If you attend an opera showcase, you can almost bet without reservation on the fact that you’ll likely hear this song.

Edvard Grieg – Solveig’s Song

Edvard Grieg is a name that actually isn’t commonly associated with the opera. But, because his compositions are incredibly cinematic and almost visual, it makes sense that Grieg would take a crack at an opera.

His work for the 1867 opera, Peer Gynt, stands out in his catalog of compositions, with Solveig’s Song being an excellent selection. This particular soprano aria is almost extremely delicate in its delivery, which immediately fills the listener with wonder.

Georges Bizet – Carillon

Are you tired of hearing about Georges Bizet yet? The fact that he’s been mentioned so many times should be a glaring indicator that you need to investigate his works fully.

Carillon is a suite that comes from one of Bizet’s least popular operatic compositions but has found life outside of its original context. If you’re looking to be taken on a journey through contrasting emotions in the span of a few minutes, Carillon will certainly deliver.

Felix Mendelssohn – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, Op. 21

Felix Mendelssohn must have had an affinity for Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Over the course of his career (ironically at the beginning and end), he made a composition for the play.

The one he wrote as a young composer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, is a feat that is almost unimaginable considering its complexity. Mendelssohn was only 17 years old at the time that he put these notes to paper. 

Given this fact, it’s quite obvious that Mendelssohn was on a completely different level compared to his peers. 

Felix Mendelssohn - A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, Op. 21

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