Dude, Chill Out. It’s Just a Flower from Carmen
It started with a tease: Of all the soldiers desperate for her attention, Carmen singles out the shy Don José, tossing him a rose.
But that rose becomes so much more than a rose as Don José embarks on a destructive affair with the beautiful factory worker. He deserts his military post, runs away with a band of smugglers, and gets imprisoned for his crimes. But throughout it all, he’s kept the rose, as he explains in his aria “La fleur que tu m'avais jetée.” He clings to it as he does Carmen’s love, though — just like the flower — her affections have long since withered.
Aida’s Love Triangle — With Deadly Stakes
Amneris, daughter to the king of Egypt, faces an impossible situation. On one hand, she’s furious: The man she loves, Radamès, has betrayed her for an enslaved Ethiopian princess. But on the other, she cannot stand to watch him die a traitor’s death for helping the princess escape. She is desperate to save him.
Their duet, “E la morte un ben supremo,” captures the fury of the moment. They sing almost in parallel to each other, up until the very end, when their voices unite and the music spirals into a menacing crescendo, as Radamès prepares to embrace his fate.
Smells Like Teen Angst in The Marriage of Figaro
The Countess Almaviva is besieged by unfaithful men. Her husband is off chasing any skirt that passes by — and he’s recently set his sights on the Countess’s maid and confidante, Susanna.
But if that weren’t trouble enough, the Count’s teenage page Cherubino is suffering from a bout of raging hormones. He too is attracted to all the women he sees. But above all, he has fallen for the Countess, the last person he should hope to seduce — if he prizes his life. In the aria "Non so più cosa son,” the Countess suffers through Cherubino’s tortured proclamation of love, an anthem for horny teenagers everywhere.
A Vow to Murder for Love in Don Giovanni
It has been the worst night of Donna Anna’s life. A masked intruder entered her house and attempted to rape her. She succeeded in fending him off — but as he fled, he ran into her father, whom he stabs in his escape.
Donna Anna’s fiancé, Don Ottavio, arrives to defend the family. But it’s too late. Her father is already dead. And in her grief, Donna Anna forces Ottavio to swear an oath: that he will kill whoever murdered her father, as he does in the duet "Ah, vendicar, se il puoi, giura quel sangue ognor!"
Rigoletto’s Dastardly Duke Leaves Hearts Broken
It’s a lonely, haunting aria — devoid of all the joy that should accompany a confession of love. And yet, ”Tutte le feste al tempio” is the moment when Gilda unspools her heart, sharing with her father that she had fallen for a mysterious student she met at church.
But as she now realizes, the man she met was no student. He was the Duke of Mantua, a notorious libertine. Burdened with shame, Gilda then explains how a group of courtiers abducted her and delivered her to the Duke, as her father — the Duke’s jester — listens in anguish.
A Love So Strong, It’s Madness in Lucia di Lammermoor
So you’re sneaking out before dawn to see your lover. You know what might be a bad sign? Having visions of a ghostly woman stabbed to death by her lover.
The premonition is a sign of things to come — and of Lucia’s precarious mental state. The pressure she’s under is immense: Her family relies on her upcoming marriage to save its dwindling fortunes. But Lucia is in love with a man from a rival family, Edgardo. In their duet “Verranno a te sull’aure,” Lucia and Edgardo pledge their devotion to one another — even as Lucia’s nuptials loom on the horizon.
In Lucrezia Borgia, It’s a Choice Between Husband and Son
Will he suffer by sword or by poison? That’s the choice Duke Alfonso presents to his wife Lucrezia Borgia, as he prepares to murder the man who’s caught her eye, Gennaro. Not only has Gennaro defaced Borgia property, Alfonso also suspects he’s seduced Lucrezia.
In the song “Oh! A te bada,” Alfonso presses Lucrezia for an answer — his way of getting revenge both on her and Gennaro. But Lucrezia is hiding a secret: Gennaro is actually her long-lost son. And she’s not willing to let him die so soon after she’s found him once more.
Bad Timing? A Break-Up in the Midst of Orlando’s War
The jumpy, jittery rhythm of “Non potrà dirmi ingrata” reflect Angelica’s nerves: She feels guilty for leaving her lover, the warrior Orlando. And yet, while nursing the wounded Prince Medoro back to health, Angelica found a new love, a truer lover, with him.
Orlando’s jealousy verges on madness, and Angelica fears the wrath of his broken heart. But what else can she do? She prays in this aria that Orlando will understand her decision to leave, since he himself has known the unyielding power of love.