A compilation of the most beautiful love arias for tenor with explanations and great YouTube videos.
TOP 10 OF LOVE ARIAS FOR TENOR
from TOSCA by Giacomo Puccini
Plot: Cavaradossi paints a picture of the Madonna in the church, which he has decorated with the features of Tosca and a second, unknown beauty who often visits the church. He is in thought of his beloved Floria Tosca.
This aria of Cavaradossi is a highlight of the opera and is played early in the first act. Like Verdi, Puccini occasionally made fun of punishing the notorious late comers.
The aria “Recondita armonia” must be sung contemplatively by the tenor, an indulgence in thought without haste. Puccini writes “con dolcezza” into the score for the orchestra. Beautiful details must be highlighted such as the letters “R” of “ardente” and “bruna” describing Tosca. Cavaradossi must sing precisely, just as the painter works with an exact eye. Thus the tenor must sing the phrases “tu azzurro hai l’occhio” (Attavanti) and “Tosca hai l’occhio nero” differently, because it remains clear, Cavaradossi’s love is with Tosca.
This beautiful tenor aria from the first act is a showpiece of many tenors in recitals. Listen to the great aria “Recondita armonia” sung by Jussi Björling. He was one of the greatest Puccini tenors. His voice had a silvery timbre and its high notes were of outstanding quality.
SE QUEL GUERRIERO IO FOSSI ... CELESTE AIDA
from AIDA by Giuseppe Verdi
Plot:Aida, the daughter of the Ethiopian king Amonasro lives as a slave in the Egyptian court. The Ethiopian warriors invade Egypt to free Aida. The Egyptian officer Radames dreams of returning to his secret love Aida, laurel-wreathed from the defensive battle.
Verdi presents the role of Radames with considerable difficulties. The role is written for a “lirico spinto”, a “youthful heroic tenor”. Radames must not only be able to sing the great heroic arias, but also be convincing in lyrical piano passages. The tenor voice must be audible above sharp trumpet sounds and be able to keep up with the warmth of the woodwinds. The tenor must also be confident in the high notes. Right at the beginning, Radames must sing the great aria “Celeste Aida” without being sung. Some tenors consider Celeste Aida to be Verdi’s most difficult tenor aria.The letter scene by Anna Netrebko is simply magnificent. She masters the intimate parts of this piece, her singing is subtle, the piani are breathtaking, only to produce ecstatic top notes from her full throat a little later in great fervor.
DU BIST MEIN GANZES HERZ
from LAND DES LÄCHELNS (Land of Smile) by Franz Lehar
Plot: Lisa has fallen in love with the ambassador Sou-Chong. The two realize their mutual love and decide to go to China together. There, Lisa must realize the rift between their cultures, which depresses her. The head of the family Tschang, demands that the prince marry four Manchu women according to the laws of the land, Lisa would then be the fifth wife. The prince begins to realize the hopelessness of the situation. Lisa is unhappy in the foreign country and is full of longing for her Viennese homeland. Once again, the prince tries to comfort her and invokes his love.
This song was practically note-identical already present in the previous work “of the yellow jacket”, but was hardly noticed. In the remake of the Land of Smiles, this piece became the golden number. For this, much credit must certainly be given to the tenor Richard Tauber. Tauber had already collaborated with Lehar in 4 operettas in the twenties, and the songs tailored for Tauber were usually placed in the second act and given the nickname “Tauber Lieder.” The Tauber song “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” is the best known, and one of the most famous tenor pieces ever.
The orchestra introduces this aria with a wistful chromatic chord. Lehar purposefully leads the aria to the high A flat. Lehar wrote many arias for the tenor Richard Tauber. His most beautiful position was the middle register and his weakness was the high register. That is why this aria does not go beyond the high A flat. The artistic partnership between Tauber and Lehar was symbiotic to the highest degree. In 1920 Richard Tauber sang an operetta by Lehar for the first time and reaped immediate success. Lehar suffered from the decline of the operetta genre and it was only with Tauber that Lehar was able to return to the early successes of The Merry Widow.
DONNA NON VIDI MAI
from MANON LESCAUT by Giacomo Puccini
Plot: In front of an inn in Amiens. A fanfare announces the arrival of a stagecoach. This emerges Manon and her brother Lescaut, who stop for an overnight stay. Des Grieux catches sight of young Manon and immediately falls in love with her. When Lescaut goes to the inn to take care of the overnight stay, she is alone for a moment, and Des Grieux approaches her. He learns her name and that she will be leaving the next day to go to the convent on her father’s orders. Des Grieux offers her his help to escape her fate. Manon wants to know his name and promises to return in the evening. Soon they are interrupted, her brother has returned and leads her to her room. Des Grieux remains behind. Rhapsodizing, he thinks of the beautiful young woman.
The aria that now follows is the most famous piece of this opera and the first famous aria written by Puccini, who was then 33 years old…. The ¾ meter gives the piece a lilting, dreamy character. The orchestral accompaniment of the melody is very rich, the tuning of the accompanying instruments with divided strings spans several octaves, emphasizing Lescaut’s passion with notes in extreme registers.
In the second part, Des Grieux tenderly and rapturously quotes Manon’s motif “Manon Lescaut mi chiamo” again and again, with which she had introduced herself. It is a surprising effect that makes this aria seem almost like a duet. The third part, “O susurro gentil, deh! Non cessar!“, repeated several times, ends with a passionate high B sung with verve:
Backed by a modern recording of an orchestra, we hear Enrico Caruso’s interpretation. He was a personal friend of Puccini. His voice is wonderfully soft and flowing. He sings this aria more broadly and dreamily, and it lasts a full 30 seconds longer than Domingo’s interpretation, for example.
CHE GELIDA MANINA
from LA BOHÈME by Giacomo Puccini
Plot:The philosopher Colline comes home. He is in a bad mood, because he could not pawn anything in the pawnshop, since it was closed on Christmas Eve. Only the musician Schaunard could earn something and brings wine, firewood and some money. So they decide to spend Christmas Eve at the Café Momus. They are interrupted by their landlord Benoit, who sends a reminder for the long overdue rent. They get rid of him and go to the café. Only Rodolfo stays behind, as he still has to finish an article. There is a knock at the door. It is Mimi, the seamstress from the apartment next door. She asks for a light for the extinguished candle. Mimi feels weak and Rodolfo takes care of her. The two talk about their lives and their dreams. Rodolfo begins and tells about himself, the poet, the millionaire of dreams.
The aria begins pianissimo and dolcissimo and the first part ends with a beautiful rallentando when Rodolfo points to the beautiful moon that shimmers romantically into the room (“e qui la luna”). Rodolfo introduces himself with an expressive “Chi son” in which he describes himself as a poet and a poor artist. In the third part, he tells of his dreams, which culminate gloriously in the word “Millionaria.” In the fourth part he sings of Mimi, whom he has just met. Infinitely romantic occurs the famous final sequence with the high C (Ma il furto non m’accora, poiché, poichè v’ha preso stanza, la speranza).
Many experts consider Pavarotti the best Rodolfo in recording history. In the words of Kesting: “Schlechthin überragend, auch und gerade darstellisch setzt sich Pavarotti als Rodolfo unter Karajan in Szene. It is one of the rare vocal portraits that makes the character visible. In no other recording – La fille du régiment aside – has he sung more freely and loosely, in none with a richer palette of color.”
HORCH, DIE LERCHE SINGT IM HAIN
from DIE LUSTIGEN WEIBER VON WINDSOR by Otto Nicolai
Action: In the garden behind the Reichs’ house. The Junker Spärlich wants to offer Anna a serenade, when he is interrupted by Dr. Cajus, who is planning the same thing. Fenton also had the same idea, at his appearance his two rivals hide and listen to him.
Accompanied by the chirping of birds in the orchestra, Fenton sings a romantic serenade. This aria will probably forever be associated with Fritz Wunderlich, who, with the mellifluousness of his voice and genuine musicality, shaped this serenade not into a sentimental sentimental piece, but into a soulful romance.
SALUT DEMEURE CHASTE E PURE
from FAUST by Charles Gounod
Plot: Faust has made a pact with Mephisto. Mephisto helps the aging scientist to a love beziheung. In return, his soul belongs to him in the afterlife. Mephisto makes Margarete appear at the spinning wheel as a vision. Faust is spellbound and enraptured. He quickly signs Mefisto’s paper and in return he receives a rejuvenation potion, which he drinks greedily. The next day Faust sees Margaret and approaches her. But she rejects him, whereupon Faust is not discouraged, but loves her even more. Faust shows up in her garden the next day accompanied by Mefisto. Mefisto leaves to procure a gift for Margaret. Meanwhile, Faust is alone, and his anticipation of seeing Margaret again is great.
A feature of this famous aria is that the tenor is accompanied by a solo violin, which plays around his voice throughout the piece. Berlioz felt that this artifice of Gounod’s “does much more harm than good to the whole, and I think the singer Duprez was right, who one day, when an instrumental solo in the orchestra accompanied him in a romance, said, “This devil’s instrument, with its runs and variations, irritates me like a fly buzzing around my head and trying to sit on my nose.” Conde countered that Gounod was saying with the violin what words could only half say ” ce que les mots ne disent qu’à demi.” Faust’s words are spiritual and expressive. Words like “Innocente et divine” or “Que de richesse” give the singer the opportunity to show the subtlety and richness of his voice. The intensity increases steadily until the climactic climax of the aria with the spectacular high C, which should be sung tastefully and in no way should be made coarse and applauding, which would destroy the mood of this piece. The piece ends beautifully with the solo violin in the Adagio.
Björling’s interpretation is perhaps unbeatable. He has recorded this aria repeatedly. Listen and watch the recording from a television production. We note an uncertain look at the beginning, but then Björling beguiles the listener from the first second. He transforms into a tender, romantic lover. His singing and playing are of great naturalness, as is the high C of the ending. This performance, along with Caruso’s interpretation, is and was the blueprint for all the tenors that followed them.
IL MIO TESORO
from DON GIOVANNI by WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
Plot: Don Giovanni was in the bedroom of Donna Anna. When Don Giovanni wants to leave the room, Donna Anna tries to prevent him. She wants to know his name. The noise wakes the commander, Donna Anna’s father. He recognizes the situation and attacks the seducer with his sword. In the duel, Don Giovanni stabs the Commendatore. Donna Anna sets off with her fiancé Don Ottavio to find the murderer. Don Ottavio comforts his beloved and wants to avenge the death of her father.
One of Mozart’s famous tenor arias. Don Ottavio is characterized by two feelings, on the one hand the duty to revenge and on the other hand the love for Donna Anna. These feelings must be sung with an aristocratic dignity. The aria begins with a warm expressive theme, dolce e espressivo, accompanied by a beautiful motif in the strings. The second part of the aria is dedicated to revenge. The music becomes more agitated. A virtuoso run shows an agitated and determined Don Ottavio. This aria is a touchstone for tenors. It requires endless breath, coloratura skills, and the ability to manage great leaps of tone. All ingredients that make even seasoned singers sweat.
For many, Mc Cormack’s 1916 interpretation of this aria was the gold standard. Kesting counts it among the greatest recordings: “Anyone who wants to understand, for example, that a securely centered rounded F’ in a tenor voice is more important than a C”, however resounding, listen to Mc Cormack’s holding notes, struck with the resonance of a bell. Mc Cormack surpasses all other singers in this aria.”
from DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG by Richard Wagner
Plot: The day of the singing competition has come. Beckmesser and Walther von Stoltzing present their prize song. The Singer owns the hand of Eve. Walther begins his song. Already after the first stanza a murmur of astonishment goes through the audience and the crowd of the Meistersinger, which increases after the second stanza. After the third stanza, there is no doubt about the winner.
In swaying rhythm and accompanied by the tender pizzicato of the strings and lovely interjections of the woodwinds, the rose aria of Susanna unfolds. It is a beautiful, lyrical declaration of love for her future husband Figaro, and the utopia of a world where distinctions of class no longer exist. The aria is a significant resting point in the opera.
Preislied consists of three stanzas that continually increase in tempo, volume, and intensity. It is an urgent and romantic Heldentenor aria that must be sung in the most beautiful legato and derives its beauty not least from the magnificent accompaniment.
Hear Placido Domingo in this effective piece in the recording conducted by Eugen Jochum. The Spanish-speaking tenor was not the ideal Walther from an idiomatic point of view, but no tenor could match the beauty and splendor of his interpretation of the Preislied.
UNA FURTIVA LAGRIMA
from L-ELISIR D-AMORE by Gaetano Donizetti
Plot: Adina, who knows nothing of the death of Nemorino’s uncle and his inheritance, learns from Dulcamara that Nemorino has sold himself to Belcore for her sake. Moved, Adina buys back the bill of sale. Dulcamara also wants to sell her a bottle. She just smiles and says she wants to win Nemorino back with her eyes and her smile. Nemorino thinks he recognized a tear in Adina’s eye when the girls wooed him.
Introduced by a bassoon solo and harp (an interesting combination!) begins this famous aria. In addition to the beauty of its motifs, it stands out for the peculiarity that the first part of each verse is in a minor key and the second in a major key. This transition from pain to hope is wonderfully enhanced by the expressive instrumentation with bassoon and clarinet.
In 1901, Enrico Caruso sang this aria for the first time. It was his debut season at La Scala and Toscanini conducted. What followed was the greatest ovation yet heard in that theater. It went on to become one of the most important operas of his career at the Met. “Una furtiva lagrima” was among the first arias Caruso recorded and (along with “Vesti la giubba”) became his trademark.
Listen to it in the recording, which was accompanied by a modern orchestra. You can hear the classical rubato, for example on the second “Che più cercando io vo” which, combined with a grandiose accelerando, is twice as long as Pavarotti’s 80 years later. The same can be said of the (wonderfully) long ritardando on “Io la vedo.” Listen to Enrico Caruso in the 1904 recording as he tenderly sings this passage and then exults in the “Cielo.” The final crescendo on “Si può morir” delights with the consummate swelling of the sound and the glowing final notes.