The scheming Count Almaviva (Erwin Schrott, left) and Basilio the music master (Benjamin Bruns) prop up a swooning Susanna (Slyvia Schwartz), the object of the Count's nefarious affections. Michael Pohn/Wiener Staatsoper hide caption

itoggle caption Michael Pohn/Wiener Staatsoper

First-Time Perfection: Mozart's 'Marriage of Figaro' WDAV-FM

Mozart's premier creative partnership with Lorenzo Da Ponte produced a masterpiece for the ages.

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The tortured relationship between Carmen (mezzo-soprano Beatrice Uria-Monzon) and Don Jose (tenor Roberto Alagna) is at the center of one of opera's biggest blockbusters. A. Bofil/Liceu Theatre Barcelona hide caption

itoggle caption A. Bofil/Liceu Theatre Barcelona

'Carmen': Bizet's One-Opera Hit Parade WDAV-FM

Georges Bizet is only known for one opera — but he packs more hummable tunes than usual into it.

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Tosca (Catherine Naglestad) with her politically subversive lover, the painter Caravadossi (Roberto Alagna). Photo Grand Angle Orange hide caption

itoggle caption Photo Grand Angle Orange

A Shocker In Real Time: Puccini's 'Tosca'

The opera's realistic approach to the passage of dramatic time includes scenes of emotional agony.

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Though Pelléas (Yann Beuron) and Mélisande (Marta Márquez) do not explicitly discuss their love for each other until late in the opera, it smolders throughout the first three acts. Hans Joerg Michel hide caption

itoggle caption Hans Joerg Michel

Psychological Slow Burn: 'Pelléas and Mélisande' WDAV-FM

Debussy's dreamy, cerebral thriller proves that opera needn't be loud to be intense.

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Claudio Abbado conducts this concert performance of Beethoven's "Fidelio" at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. Peter Fischli/Lucerne Festival hide caption

itoggle caption Peter Fischli/Lucerne Festival

NPR World of Opera

Strife and Salvation: Beethoven's 'Fidelio' WDAV-FM

In Beethoven's only opera, a daring hero risks all to save her imprisoned husband.

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The Vixen (Isabel Bayrakdarian) sows seeds of discontent among the barnyard animals. New Press Photo Firenze/Maggio Musicale Fiorentino hide caption

itoggle caption New Press Photo Firenze/Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Quirk of Nature: Janacek's 'Cunning Little Vixen'

Although populated with barnyard animals, the opera speaks volumes about human nature.

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Even the few light-hearted moments in Berg's opera are surrounded by darkness. The disturbed Wozzeck (Georg Nigl) has horrific visions of knives and blood, which turn out to be prophetic. Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theatre hide caption

itoggle caption Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theatre

Opera Noir: Alban Berg's 'Wozzeck'

The disturbed title character struggles with jealously and poverty in Berg's powerful tragedy.

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Eugene Onegin (Dmitry Hvorostovsky) rejects his suitor with hardly a thought, but he comes to regret it by the end of the opera. Axel Zeininger/Wiener Staatsoper hide caption

itoggle caption Axel Zeininger/Wiener Staatsoper

Reversal of Fortune: Tchaikovsky's 'Eugene Onegin' WDAV-FM

Tchaikovsky felt Eugene Onegin so deeply that it led him to an ill-fated marriage — and an opera.

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Sophie Koch and Jonas Kaufmann as the star-crossed lovers in Werther. Michael Pöhn/Wiener Staatsoper hide caption

itoggle caption Michael Pöhn/Wiener Staatsoper

Ending It All In Massenet's 'Werther' WDAV-FM

Forget Metallica and Megadeth: here's Massenet on fading to black, in his opera 'Werther.'

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