The Circle Of Harmony Orchestra performed Lodoiska in concert at the Parco Della Musica in Rome. courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Fanning Revolutionary Fires:  Cherubini's 'Lodoiska'

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Set in 17th century Poland, the plot involves a somewhat inept young knight who tries to liberate his captive fiancé, and needs a lot of help along the way.

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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

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Saverio Mercadante's rarely performed opera Virginia from Wexford Opera Festival in Ireland. Clive Barda/Courtesy of Wexford Festival Opera hide caption

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Brilliance In The Shadows: Mercadante's 'Virginia'

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Once a huge hit in Italy, this opera by the nearly forgotten Saverio Mercadante has long languished. But it's full of great music — and ancient Roman intrigues.

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The ballad opera 'Flora': from early 18th-century England to 21st-century Charleston. William Struhs/courtesy of Spoleto USA hide caption

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'Flora' — An 18th-Century British Invasion

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How an English innovation led to the first opera to be produced in North America.

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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

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Rusalka (Christine Opolais) gives up her immortality for a chance at love with the prince (Klaus Florian Vogt) — but she's not the only one who has to make the ultimate sacrifice. Wilfried Hosl/Bavarian State Opera hide caption

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Life Yields to Love in Dvorak's 'Rusalka'

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A water nymph sacrifices her immortality for the love of a prince, only to be rejected. But somehow, this fairy-tale inspired opera still has a romantic ending, if not a happy one.

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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

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Francesca (Svetla Vassileva) is tricked into marrying an odious older man, but she still harbors feelings for his brother Paulo (Roberto Alagna). Mirco Magliocca /Opéra national de Paris hide caption

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Passion From Hell: Zandonai's 'Francesca da Rimini'

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A woman forced into a political marriage with a brutal older man falls madly in love — with her brother-in-law. The story is told in the second circle of hell.

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Queen Elizabeth (soprano Carmela Remigio) tries to use her power to gain love — with disastrous consequences. Teatro dell'Opera di Roma hide caption

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Tannhauser's time in a den of sensual pleasures sends him on a pilgrimage to redeem his soul. Wikimedia Commons hide caption

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Wishful Thinking: Wagner's 'Tannhäuser'

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A man learns that there's more to life than sensual pleasure in this extended version of Wagner's opera.

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The main plot device in this darkly comic Mozart opera is false identities, as the the two main characters don disguises to test their fiancees. Michael Pohn/Wiener Staatsoper hide caption

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Romantic Recrimination: Mozart's 'Così Fan Tutte'

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Two macho types hatch a silly test to prove the unswerving loyalty of their girlfriends, in a comedy by Mozart that goes deeper than farce.

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The action begins when Alvaro's (Salvatore Licitra) pistol accidentally goes off, killing his beloved's father. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino hide caption

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It Must Have Been Fate: 'La Forza del Destino'

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Plenty of operas dwell on fate, but few do it so dramatically as Giuseppe Verdi's La Forza del Destino — The Force of Destiny.

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Cinderella (Kate Aldrich) doesn't know that the man she's fallen for is actually Prince Ramiro (Lawrence Brownlee) in disguise. Studio Amati Bacciardi/Rossini Opera Festival hide caption

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The Beaune Festival's concert version of "Ulysses" was performed at the Basilica Notre Dame in Beaune, France. Wikimedia Commons hide caption

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In Kurt Weill's opera, the city of Mahagonny was founded by three fugitives hoping to extort money from prospectors. Javier del Real/Teatro Real hide caption

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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

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Placido Domingo stars as Bajazet, with soprano Sara Coburn as Asteria, in this production by Washington National Opera. Karin Cooper/Washington National Opera hide caption

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Semi-Historical Drama: Handel's 'Tamerlano'

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Placido Domingo takes on his 126th role, as Bajazet in Handel's taut drama, Tamerlano.

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Margaret Garner (Denyce Graves) and her husband Robert (Eric Greene) support each other through their hardships. Jim Schmid/Opera Carolina hide caption

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Don Quixote (Jose Van Dam) describes himself as a knight-errant who wanders the world righting wrongs, comforting mourners and aiding the oppressed. Johan Jacobs hide caption

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