Let’s be honest. Opera gives us more unfaithful and scheming parents than it does loving, caring, fathers-of-the-year.
But in honour of fathers everywhere, who we hope are striving to be better than Agamemnon, Wotan or Alberich, we’ve put together a playlist of some of opera’s more relatable father-child moments.
The vengeful father
The Commendatore in Don Giovanni loves his daughter Donna Anna so much he dies defending her honour. And then comes back to life (sort of) to drag her attacker to his fiery doom.
‘Don Giovanni! A cenar teco m’invitasti’ from Don Giovanni
The protective father
Rigoletto manages to get his daughter Gilda killed, in the end, so let’s not give him father of the year, but he loves his only daughter very, very much. In this gorgeous duet, the pair sing of their joy in each other, before Gilda questions him relentlessly about who her mother was.
‘“Figlia!” “Mio padre”‘ from Verdi’s Rigoletto
The concerned father
Giorgio Germont is a complex character. He loves his daughter so much that he breaks up his son’s happy (but scandalous) relationship to save her honour. But in the process, he sort of breaks his son’s heart. And his son’s lover’s heart. In this aria, he reminds his son of his duty and his home.
‘Di Provenza il mar, il suol chi dal cor ti cancellò’ from Verdi’s La Traviata
The long-lost father
In a thoroughly sad story, this aria between father and daughter is a moment of joy and delight. In his youth, Simon Boccanegra had loved a woman named Maria, and the pair had an illicit child. But when Maria died, the child vanished, and Simon is left alone. Years later, he meets the woman Amelia, who tells him she is adopted and only has one picture, in a locket, of her mother. Simon looks at the locket, and the image is of his Maria. Reunited, the father and daughter sing of their joy.
‘Figlia a tal nome io palpito’ from Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra
The indulgent father
Gianni Schicchi isn’t the world’s best father, but he does manage to work things out so that his daughter Lauretta can marry the man she loves. Before we get to the happy ending, his daughter sings that famous, almost-always sung out-of-context aria ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’. In the aria, she is begging her father to let her have her own way, while declaring how much she loves him. How could he refuse?
‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi
The deadbeat dad
Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton wouldn’t win husband of the year, abandoning his young Japanese wife and returning three years later to Japan with a new, American wife. Learning he has a son, he decides to take him and raise him in America, but cannot face the woman he had left behind. He sings of his regret and cowardice in this beautiful aria, before the heartbroken Butterfly gives her tiny son an American flag and decides to suicide.
‘Addio fiorito asil’ from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly