In 1885, it was evident that whoever could figure out how to separate aluminum from aluminum ore would make a ton of money. After many experiments and disappointments, a young scientist named Charles Martin Hall decided to try using electricity (in a process known as electrolysis) to separate the aluminum from the ore instead of using chemical methods. He had a lot of trouble getting this to work, until he immersed the aluminum in a solution called molten cryolite (which has to be heated to over 1000 degrees Celsius). After adding a compound of aluminum to the molten cryolite and letting electricity run through it for a little while, he found a couple small silver balls. It worked. He had produced pure aluminum, as well as a lot of money for himself. This discovery is what allowed us to have aluminum foil, as well as many other products that use the metal extensively.
What I have done here with opera is rather similar. I have gone through the beautiful past of opera – rather unknown of even to music students – and created playlists of the very greatest recordings of opera. My years of study into opera and my apprenticeship with a master teacher and singer have taught me how to separate the good from the bad. The recordings I list here are so unheard of and so great that I think they are capable of making great opera fans out of those who previously strongly disliked the art form. Also, be sure to read this whole page before clicking on. The information here will help you understand and appreciate these recordings even more!
In addition to the above twelve sections, I have also included seven of the greatest of these moments below on this page. In each section (including this one), I have written down the exact seconds of each recording that I think embody what I think you should hear. To maximize your ability to do this, I use the program Spotify which you can download, here. Spotify is an internet business that allows you to listen to almost any music recordings for free, and yes, it is totally legal. It compensates the artists from advertisements that listeners (like you) view while the music is playing. I have included players on each page that can give you clips of the songs if you click the play button on the top left, however, to hear the exact parts of the songs I would like you to hear, I have created links above these players that will open the playlist in Spotify. The instructions and comments to accompany these clips are on the corresponding pages of this website, and the exact seconds of each clip I would like you to hear are listed both on the pages of this website and in the playlist description in Spotify.
So enjoy! I hope that you will love these recordings as much as I do, and that this website will produce (by electrolysis, of course) the greatest and most pure opera recordings, that will revolutionize your view of opera as much as aluminum and aluminum foil revolutionized the way we live!
Open this playlist in spotify, here.
These seven moments are really incredible. Please take the time to read the comments for each clip below and listen intently to each one in Spotify. You will love them and be shocked by how awesome they are!
The exact clips I prepared for the recordings I list here are Ave Maria (soft singing)-3:07-4:25, Manon Lescaut (high notes)- 1:10-1:40, Manon (glorious tone)-1:39-2:39, Tosca (a very poetic moment)-1:48-3:00, Cortigiani (great baritone singing)-0:00-1:10, Una Voce Poco Fa (fast singing)-4:56-5:30, and Always – 0:00-2:18.
Zinka Milanov was one of the greatest sopranos in the history of opera. She was born in Romania, and her voice has a “Russian” type color to it. She was one of the greatest masters of singing softly. Here she sings two soft notes combined with gorgeous orchestra music that is too beautiful to be believed.
Richard Tucker was one of the main tenors of the Metropolitan opera in the 60’s. His high notes were very bright and gorgeous. Make sure your speakers are turned up loud enough (and are good enough) to hear the shining brilliance of this high note. Don’t let the speaker make it dull, it wasn’t sung that way!
Listen carefully to the quick high notes that De Los Angeles sings here. They are so bright and perfect placed that they sound like a miracle. She had almost a perfect voice.
This is almost the exact recording that first made me consider loving opera. It is so beautiful and poetic. Originally I was inspired by the melody that Puccini wrote at the end of the aria when Pavarotti sings, “Ah! Il mio solo pensiero sei tu! Tosca sei tu!” The aria is about a painter. When he paints different women, he always ends up adding the features of the woman he loves to the painting. The title, “Recondita Armonia” means roughly “Hidden Harmony” and the music that gracefully moves from high to low and settles in the middle, poetically conveys the thoughts of these two women. The last phrase he sings is translated, “Tosca, my only thought is you.” How is that for poetry?
This is the part of Verdi’s Rigoletto where Rigoletto demands a certain group of men to give him his daughter back. Listen to Leonard Warren’s tone!
I really recommend listening to the recording of this entire song, not just the clip I suggested (which displays awesome fast singing). This aria is so enjoyable and Anna makes it so fun to listen to. My teacher said that everyone in the audience went nuts when Anna Moffo came on stage for her debut in La Traviata. She was so gorgeous!
This recording isn’t from an opera, but I included it to show you how an opera singer could sing an absolutely gorgeous English song. This is what opera voices are capable of. After listening to this recording you may think about these voices less as “opera” voices, and more as simply beautiful voices.