LONDON (Reuters Life!) - In the run-up to this month’s World Cup it was all over the airwaves, but listeners to BBC radio have turned their noses up at “Nessun Dorma,” the Puccini aria made synonymous with soccer by Luciano Pavarotti.
In a poll of their favorite arias, the listeners to the BBC’s classical music station Radio 3 chose Henry Purcell’s “When I am laid in Earth” from Dido and Aeneas.
Over the past month, they were invited to email the station with their favorite arias, before an online vote was used to choose the winner. A tie resulted in the Top 10 becoming 11.
Dido and Aeneas is Purcell’s only fully sung stage work and is one of the earliest English operas in the regular repertoire. The aria comes at the end of the opera as Dido, Queen of Carthage, having been abandoned by the Trojan Prince Aeneas, flings herself on a funeral pyre.
“It’s touching that it’s an English rather than an Italian bel canto aria that’s won the most support,” said presenter Sara Mohr Pietsch.
“Purcell’s music gives us access to the heart of a proud queen in the final minutes of her life, one of those rare and beautiful moments when every listener is on the edge of their seat.”
The top choices were: 1. When I am laid in earth (Dido and Aeneas, Purcell) 2. Dove sono (Marriage of Figaro, Mozart) 3. Liebestod (Tristan and Isolde, Wagner) 4. E lucevan le stelle (Tosca, Puccini) 5. Casta diva (Norma, Bellini) 6. Song to the Moon (Rusalka, Dvorak) 7. Che faro senza Euridice? (Orfeo ed Euridice, Gluck) 8. The Queen of the Night’s second aria “Der holle Rache” (Magic
Flute, Mozart) 9. Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben (Zaide, Mozart) 10. Marietta’s Lied “Gluck das mir verblieb” (Die tote Stadt, Korngold) 11. Mon coeur s’oeuvre a ta voix (Samson and Dalila, Saint-Saens)
Reporting by Jonathan Parr; Editing by Steve Addison