It's Puccini night!
Like many a classically-trained singer, I have the same affection for Puccini as Alpinists do for the Matterhorn. It's a challenge you set yourself. Having said that, Puccini knew how to write stuff that sounds more difficult than it really is - he provides you with the musical equivalent of conveniently-spaced handholds to give you a fighting chance. I've tried to go with whole operas rather than merely the sources of favourite tenor "warhorses", so I'm afraid that I've had to wave goodbye - tearfully and while waving a large handkershief dramatically - to both Nessun Dorma and Che Gelida Manina (which if my Italian serves me correctly, means "Your hand is in my ice-cream!")
More people know the one rather insipid soprano aria O mio babbino caro than know the rest of this one-acter; which is a shame because the tenor parts are rather good too. Of course, if you're allowed to count Il Trittico ('the triptych', written as a single evening's performance of three one-act operas) as one, you get Il Tabbaro and Suor Angelica thrown in too, which is a good package deal by any standards. Gianni Schicchi is also refreshingly rare as being a genuinely funny operatic comedy.
La Fanciulla Del West
Who can resist the spectacle of cowboys and Indians singing in Italian? Yes, this has to be the finest operatic western ever written. Though not the most popular of Giacamo's works, it nonetheless has its admirers (myself included, obviously) for being better dramatically integrated than many of the others and musically more 'modern' to boot.
Not only do I - like all tenors - have a soft spot for Cavaradossi, but choosing this gives me an opportunity to air a funny story about an erstwhile colleague of Scaryduck, No Good Boyo and myself - let us call her Doris - to whom I shamelessly dropped the fact that an old chum had invited me to play Cavaradossi in an amateur production.
Doris: Tosca? Are you any good at jumping off walls?
Me: Pardon? Um, I'm a tenor.
Doris: Yes, but are you any good at jumping off walls?
Me: It's only Tosca who jumps off the wall at the end.
Doris: I thought they all did.
Me: Have you ever actually seen Tosca?
Doris: Well, no...
Actually, come to think of it, the entire cast leaping from the walls might be an improvement, adding some much-needed laughs to the otherwise depressing final act.