May I start with my all-time favorite is the
“Marriage of Figaro” which is about to open at the Lyric. But on some days, my answer would be “Don Giovanni.” It’s a toss up between those two wonderful Mozart operas. Mozart found just the right librettist in Lorenzo Da Ponte. So that’s number one and two. Number three is not necessarily my favorite opera but it’s close. But it’s the part I would most like to have if I were a diva. And that part is the Marschallin from “Rosenkavalier” in Richard Strauss’s “Rosenkavalier.” Then we of course must have Verdi in the five… And of his many wonderful operas I would pick “Otello.” Verdi did two Shakespeare plays. He did “Macbeth” – a fine opera – but truth be told I would prefer to go to the dramatic show. As between Verdi’s “Otello” and Shakespeare’s “Othello”… the opera is to me the far more engaging. It’s an overwhelmingly grand opera. And then, the fifth, because we can’t leave out Puccini… Now, Puccini… I could pick “Bohème,” “Tosca,” “Butterfly”… “Turandot”… But I’m not going to pick any of those because… the women don’t fare very well.. They die of consumption, they’re insanely jealous… Tosca…Little Liù gets tortured to death in “Turandot”…. And Butterfly… *poor* Buttefly… But, Puccini wrote an opera, “The Girl of the Golden West” (“Fanciulla”) where Minnie saves her man from the gallows. She plays cards with the sheriff to decide… if she wins, she saves her man… if she looses, well it’s not gonna be so good for Minnie or her man. But Minnie is a very strong woman and there’s not too many of those in grand opera. So I would pick “Fanciulla” as the fifth one on my list.