Friday 10th October (or the 9th depending on various sources) marks the birthday of the great Giuseppe Verdi - not as big an anniversary as last year's bicentenary, but worth marking nonethless. Here is a personal selection of favourite arias and singers from seven of his operas to mark the occasion. Sit back and enjoy some wonderful artistry...

Rigoletto: "Caro nome"

Rigoletto's daughter, Gilda, is completely won over by the 'poor student' who has just declared his love to her (she has no idea he's really the licentious Duke of Mantua) and sings of her new-found love. Nino Machaidze sings the role of Gilda: 

La traviata: "Addio, bel passato"

Violetta, about to die, sings a farewell to happiness with Alfredo. Here is Anna Netrebko in Willy Decker's iconic production:

Il trovatore: "Ah, sì ben mio"

Manrico (the troubadour of the title) is about to marry Leonora, even though the castle is under siege. He declares that even if the fortress is destroyed and he is killed, he will die speaking her name. Stylish singing from the late Carlo Bergonzi:

La forza del destino: "Urna fatale del mio destino"

An opera full of false identities, Don Carlo (in disguise) has unwittingly befriended his mortal enemy (also in disguise). Alvaro, wounded in battle, has entrusted Carlo with his secret papers, among which he finds a portrait of his sister, thus revealing the truth. The surgeon announces Alvaro will live; Carlo rejoices - for he can now kill him. Rare video footage of the Italian baritone, Ettore Bastianini:

Otello: Willow Song and Ave Maria

Desdemona, under a premonition of death, relates the story of her mother's maid, Barbara, to Emilia. She follows it with a prayer to the Virgin Mary. Marina Poplavskaya has never sounded lovelier:

Don Carlo: "Ella giammai m'amò"

King Philip II cannot sleep. He realises that Elisabetta, his young wife, has never loved him and never will. He will only be at peace when he dies. Grainy footage of the splendid Boris Christoff, one of the great basses of the 20th century:

Aida: "Ritorna vincitor!"

Aida, the Ethiopian slave, has just seen her Egyptian lover, Radamès, sent off to do battle against her father (the king). She is torn between the man she loves and her homeland. In this film, Sophia Loren plays Aida... with vocals supplied by Renata Tebaldi! 

Do add your comments or thoughts. Who are your favourite singers in these roles?