1. “Si, Mi chiamano Mimi” from Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème
This aria, sung here by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, is one of the prettiest of all time. Mimi is introducing herself to Roldolfo for the first time. I love how you can see how she’s trying to impress him very subtly. That jump gives me chills every time.
2. “Nessun dorma” from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot
No list would be complete without “Nessun dorma.” I’m a major Pavarotti fan, and I think his version of this aria is the best. He’s my ultimate favorite tenor and if I had to choose, probably my favorite singer of all time. He has incredible power and expression, two things that this song highlights perfectly. Another piece of Puccini genius. The look on his face at the end… Oh man it just gets me. He’s singing the words “I will be victorious” and I just have the sense that he’s so close that he can taste it. Oh man…
3. “Habanera” from Georges Bizet’s Carmen
Maria Callas is a goddess. She’s just perfect. The energy and attitude she brings are out of this world.
4. “La donna e mobile” from Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto
This version is an oldie but goodie performed by Giuseppe di Stefano. This is often an aria that people don’t realize they know. I love how it’s such a peppy song but it’s talking about how all women do is lie.
5. “Brindisi” from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata
Sung by Teresa Stratas, Placido Domingo, James Levine, and Franco Zeffirelli. Another peppy Verdi aria.
6. “Un bel di vedramo” from Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly
Sung by Renata Tebaldi. Madama Butterfly is a masterpiece.
7. “Porgi amor” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Le Nozze de Figaro”
Sung by Renee Fleming as the Contessa.
8. “Oh mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi
Another gorgeous piece sung by Maria Callas.
9. “Signore, Ascolta” from Puccini’s Turandot
Sung here by Leona Mitchell. Beautiful and heart-breaking.
10. “Belle nuit, o nuit d’amour” from Jacques Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann
Performed by Caballe and Verett. Absolutely gorgeous. Those strings get me every time.
11. “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” from Bizet’s Carmen
Jose Carreras does an incredible job on this. Truly beautiful.
12. “Voi che sapete che cosa è amor” from Mozart’s Le Nozze de Figaro
Sung by Cecilia Bartoli in this version, and also notably by Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. So pretty and the lyrics are precious.
Hope you enjoyed my list. There are plenty more; I’m surprised I could narrow it down to twelve even. What are your favorite arias?