Opera is indeed sad stuff. Sometimes. Most of the time. Heartbreak, betrayal, murder! You name it! So much to be sad about! Classical music, and especially opera is indeed the place to get the blues!
I was reminded of this when I read an excellent blog post about sad classical pieces. This fellow blogger asked for her reader’s favorite sad classical pieces. My prompt answer was the tenor aria “Una furtiva lagrima” from the Donizetti opera “L’elisir d’amore“. With Pavarotti, of course!
This aria is for me the saddest classical piece. It really gives me the blues! It’s so sad that I sometimes try to avoid it when it pops up in my playlists and on my CD compilations. For me it becomes very sad because the rest of the opera is so jolly and cheerful. This melancholy aria becomes a sharp contrast to the otherwise light and funny story and music. Thank goodness the story ends well!
The video below is from a performance in 1991 at The Metropolitan Opera in New York conducted by James Levine. This performance is issued on Deutsche Grammophon DVD, and was broadcast on TV.