39 Best Opera Songs, All Very Famous


G.F. Handel – Ombra Mai Fu

Not every opera has to be popular in order for a piece of music to become famous and popular performance selections. Such is the case with the 1738 opera, Xerxes, which was, by all accounts, a blunder of an opera that only ran for a handful of performances.

Thanks to some educated musicians, Ombra Mai Fu would end up being rediscovered in the following century. Today, it’s one of the most popular arias designed for the male voice, despite the fact that it was written with a castrato in mind. 

Giuseppe Verdi – La Donna È Mobile

Sometimes, composers know that they have a magical song up their sleeve before they’ve even had it performed. Verdi knew that La Donna È Mobile would be one of these songs, forcing his entire cast to agree to keep the song a secret until its first performance.

His intuition proved to be correct, with La Donna È Mobile being the standout moment for audiences who attended a performance of Rigoletto. It has since become embedded in the fabric of pop culture. 

Eduardo Di Capua, Alfredo Mazzucchi, Giovanni Capurro – ‘O Sole Mio

‘O Sole Mio is an interesting operatic piece in terms of copyright and its melody. Initially, the song was credited solely to Eduardo Di Capua, without any mention of Alfredo Mazzucchi, with whom Di Capua had frequently collaborated.

Mazzucchi’s daughter eventually recognized the work in her father’s collection and eventually, the proper credit was given. As a result, the iconic melody in ‘O Sole Mio will remain copyrighted and barred from the public domain until the year 2042, 144 years after it was written.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – The Queen Of The Night Aria

Mozart has a reputation for having composed soprano arias that are notoriously difficult to master. A fine example of this is with his aria, The Queen Of The Night (often titled Der Hölle Rache), from his 1791 opera, The Magic Flute.

In terms of length, this particular aria is rather short, which is probably to the benefit of the soprano singing it. This aria is notable for its bouncing melody that covers an extremely high range of the singer’s voice. 

Gioachino Rossini – William Tell Overture

Operatic songs featured in cartoons are nothing new and are largely responsible for the reason people are familiar with certain melodies. One of the most popular operatic works to be featured in such a manner is Rossini’s William Tell Overture.

Portions of this work have distinct styles, all of which have been utilized to convey certain things within these cartoons. Looney Toons cartoons and Disney’s Fantasia are just 2 popular examples where you’ve likely heard this song. 

Giacomo Puccini – Nessun Dorma

If you’re a classically trained tenor, it’s quite probable that you’ve labored to add Puccini’s Nessun Dorma to your repertoire. It is, by far, one of the most popular selections for the tenor voice.

Nessun Dorma comes from Puccini’s opera, Turandot, which remained unfinished and did not debut until 1926. The piece is notable for the climactic ending that features the tenor voice belting out in the high vocal range at full volume. 

Gioachino Rossini – Largo Al Factotum

For an opera to be comedic, its music often has to be ridiculous, and that’s precisely what you could label Largo Al Factotum as. This extremely famous tenor aria comes from Rossini’s 1775 opera, The Barber Of Seville, and is sung by the character, Figaro.

There’s a good chance you’re familiar with this song that says “Figaro” numerous times in different delivery styles and vocal ranges, though you might never have known its title. Surprisingly enough, after almost 250 years, Largo Al Factotum is still as ridiculously funny as it was back in Rossini’s day. 

Gioachino Rossini - Largo Al Factotum

Alessandro Parisotti – Se Tu M’ami

Parisotti is a name we haven’t mentioned yet in this article, though Se Tu M’ami remains a popular aria sung by modern classical singers. Because of the mood of the song, many might interpret the lyrics to convey sadness.

However, this is more about someone not wishing to make a commitment to someone else. In fact, it’s been said that Se Tu M’ami was sung by parents to their daughters to instill a bit of relationship wisdom.

George Gershwin – Bess, You Is My Woman Now

George Gershwin is a name that is synonymous with American music of the 1920s and 1930s. Given his range of work, it isn’t all that surprising to see an opera in his catalog of compositions.

1935’s Porgy and Bess is well-known today, but at the time of its premiere, it didn’t become a hit. However, some songs have transcended the opera altogether, with Bess, You Is My Woman Now, being one of them. 

Gabriel Fauré – Notre Amour 

To the average commoner who is only vaguely familiar with classical music, Gabriel Fauré is known for Clair De Lune. Notre Amour is a song often sung by tenors or baritones and features an expressive range set against a piano that weaves a tapestry in its accompaniment.

Sure, Fauré might not be as big of a name as Chopin, but he is considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. 

Giuseppe Verdi – Anvil Chorus

Considering how many times he’s been mentioned thus far, Giuseppe Verdi may as well be considered the star of operatic composers. He seemed to possess a remarkable talent for crafting memorable melodies that range in all degrees of mood.

Anvil Chorus is an especially upbeat, cheerful chorus song that comes from his opera Il Trovatore, which debuted in 1853. 

Giacomo Puccini – Un Bel Dì, Vedremo

Puccini’s Un Bel Dì, Vedremo is a standout soprano aria that comes from his 1904 opera, Madama Butterfly. The song has a very gentle feel with long, sweeping motions to carry the listener into a state of bliss and wonderment. 

George Gershwin – Summertime

If there’s one song that has become a modern staple, it’s George Gershwin’s Summertime, from Porgy And Bess. Even the reggae dub group, Sublime has had massive success with their cover version of this song.

You’d have to live under a rock not to have heard this song before! 

Top Opera Songs, Final Thoughts

Thanks to written music, opera has found a life existing far beyond the time period any particular piece was written. Yet, despite many operas being written over a century ago, the emotional expression remains unparalleled.

It’s safe to say that operatic songs will continue to be a staple in the repertoire of classical singers. After listening to these songs, you’ll likely want to pay a visit to the theater the next time an opera takes place in your region. 

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