Opera in Italy
I would go so far to say that Italy is the home of Opera. Nearly every Italian knows at least one opera aria. O Sole Mio (made famous by the late Luciano Pavarotti) could be sung by most people in the country. La Scala, Milan's famous opera house is known the world over and the aim of every opera singer is to make their debut at La Scala. Opera is performed in all major towns in Italy and their audiences stem from a much wider populace than is found in other western countries.
It is no surprise that some of the most famous world opera singers have been Italian, (past and present) the late Luciano Pavarotti was the greatest in his time and Andrea Bocelli is now one of the most popular and loved classical singers in the world.
Maria Callas (1923-1977) although not Italian, was loved in Italy and they called her La Divina - the divine. Her performances at La Scala are legendary with the audiences showing their appreciation of the quality of her voice by boos and hisses or wild acclamation. One of her famous quotes is "When my enemies stop hissing, I shall know I'm slipping".
The other famous female opera singer Joan Sutherland (Australian) was very loved at La Scala, earned the name La Stupenda meaning wonderful and marvellous! One of the greatest Italian female sopranos of the twentieth century was Renata Tebaldi (1922-2004) who was competed the time with Maria Callas for the role of La Diva.
Some of the most popular operas in the world are Italian - those of Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) La Boh?me, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot and Aida, Rigoletto and La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (1813- 1901). They are performed regularly in Italy and dearly loved. Puccini's arias O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi and Nessun Dorma from Turandot, have become recognized in modern culture, as two of the most well known, classic opera arias of all time.
Other great 19th century Italian operas include: The Barber of Seville by Giacchino Rossini 1821, Anna Bolena by Gaetano Donizzetti 1830, La Sonnambula by Vicenzo Bellini, 1831, Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni 1890, I Pagliacci by Ruggiero Leoncavallo 1892, Andrea Chenier by Umberto Giodarno 1896, Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilea 1902.
Italian opera also had many great conductors and orchestras. Arturo Toscanini(1867-1957) was the director of La Scala and one of the worlds greatest conductors. He conducted the premieres of many great operas such as Le Boheme and many of Verdi's operas, as well as conducting all over the world and especially the New York Philomonic.
Italian Opera Tenors
History of Opera in Italy
Opera Houses of Italy