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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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The BBC raises the curtain on its biggest ever celebration of Opera as BBC Radio 3 searches for the Nation's Favourite Aria

Aida: credit BBC/Karl Forster

Some of the biggest names of the opera world including Plácido Domingo, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Bryn Terfel, Antonio Pappano and Graham Vick are joined by opera lovers and experts across BBC Television and Radio including Stephen Fry, Rick Stein, Katie Derham and Gareth Malone to launch the widest ranging series of opera programming ever on the BBC.

Opera on the BBC is a celebration of opera across radio, television and online and BBC Radio 3 is launching proceedings by asking listeners to vote for their favourite aria.

From 17 May, listeners to Radio 3's Breakfast show will be invited to text and email their favourite arias to Radio 3 as it begins the search for The Nation's Favourite Aria.

From Monteverdi to Mozart, Bellini to Bernstein, Radio 3 listeners will have the chance to share their own operatic passions and favourites. The Top 10 will be revealed on 2 June. Listeners can then visit to hear clips and vote for their favourite arias from the Top 10. The Nation's Favourite Aria will be unveiled on air on 14 June.

Rob Cowan, presenter of Radio 3 Breakfast says: "This is the first time that Breakfast has been involved in a search of this kind, and we're all looking forward to seeing and playing the choice of the nation. From Che Faro to Nessun Dorma, I foresee an exciting battle for the top spot."

Sara Mohr-Pietsch, presenter of Radio 3 Breakfast says: "An aria can be hugely powerful and also intimate – it's the moment in an opera when a character steps out from the drama to share their innermost thoughts with the audience. I'm really looking forward to finding out which arias have captured listeners' hearts."

Roger Wright, Controller, BBC Radio 3 and Director, BBC Proms says: "Opera on the BBC is a great opportunity to celebrate opera in a way that no other organisation can, linking our radio, television and online offerings to bring audiences something really special.

"Throughout the year Radio 3 is the home of opera and we are looking forward to working with our BBC colleagues to give opera an even higher profile in our programming.

"It's terrific to welcome back to the Proms this summer Plácido Domingo and Bryn Terfel. Their performances in operas by Verdi and Wagner are two of the fastest selling Proms this year."

Jan Younghusband, Commissioning Editor, BBC Music and Events says: "This is a remarkable collection of original programmes, with singers, directors and conductors inviting us into their world with fascinating insights into everything we have always wanted to know about opera. I hope this will give our audience a unique experience of how opera is made and bring hours of enjoyment of this glorious music."

Other highlights of Opera on the BBC include:

  • Opera Italia (BBC Four) follows acclaimed conductor Antonio Pappano as he travels throughout Italy to explore the central role that opera plays in Italian history and culture
  • Stephen Fry On Wagner (BBC Four) is a one-off documentary which follows Stephen Fry as he explores his fascination for this controversial composer and confronts Wagner's troubled legacy
  • Rick Stein's Taste Of Italian Opera (BBC Four) sees Rick Stein tracing the role that food has had in Italian opera
  • In What Makes A Great Soprano? (BBC Two) iconic opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa explores the technical, physical and artistic demands of being an international soprano
  • As well as the search for the Nation's Favourite Aria, BBC Radio 3 will also launch The A-Z Of Opera on its drivetime programme In Tune. The series will showcase the world of opera in a series of features, building an A-Z of opera that will offer an approachable and demystifying guide to opera
  • BBC Radio 2 joins the celebration with a search for a new opera star. The Radio 2 Kiri Prize offers a singer the chance to study and train at the famous Solti Te Kanawa Academia and perform with Dame Kiri at BBC Proms in the Park in September

Notes to Editors

BBC Radio 3 broadcasts classical music, jazz, world music, arts programmes and drama. Last year BBC Radio 3 broadcast over 600 complete concerts and operas from venues and festivals across the UK and beyond. BBC Radio 3 is the home of the BBC Proms and broadcasts every concert live. It supports composers, writers and new young performers and last year broadcast over 40 new drama productions. See


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