A few arias to go along with your coffee

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Opera music can be a bit much to chew early in the morning, but here are a few pieces that I find go well with my morning coffee.

Although not an aria, it just can’t get much more beautiful than that, can it? Those french horns – wow! “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” is from Wagner’s Lohengrin. I think the title of the piece does a fairly good job explaining what’s happening in the opera when you hear it.

“Casta Diva,” from Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece Norma, sung by the phenomenal Anna Netrebko. Listen to the beautiful rounding of that gorgeous melody. This prayer to the “chaste goddess” is all about the voice and melody; listen to how simple the orchestra accompaniment is.

Renee Flemming singing “Song to the Moon” in one of her signature roles, Rusalka. Just listen to the orchestral color and harmonic progression. Dvořák doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a composer of opera.

I love Rodney Gilfry’s interpretation of “Deh, vieni alla finestra” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. He really sweetens up this magical aria. Other Dons tend to be a bit too forceful with it, in my opinion. The first time I heard this piece, I couldn’t believe it was Mozart – there’s a guitar and some interesting harmonic progressions. I just love that drop to the A# around 0:51. Mozart does it again!

We start and end with Wagner. “Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde is one of opera’s greatest arias. This opera is regarded as a major turning point in the direction of classical music. The so-called Tristan chord is often viewed as one of the earliest moves away from tonality.

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