Editors Mark and Elisabeth need little excuse to uncork a bottle of bubbly, so coming up with a playlist of their favourite operatic drinking songs was as easy as shouting “Prost”! A good brindisi – preferably with chorus – helps get many an operatic party going, leading to all sorts of shenanigans (Fledermaus has several extolling the virtues of Champagne). Some – poets, princes – turn to drink to drown their sorrows. And beware! A singsong and a pint or two can lower your guard and a few of opera’s villains don’t have the best of intentions when offering you a glass. So clear your throat, raise your glass and toast some of opera’s jolliest tunes!

1Don Giovanni: "Fin ch'han dal vino"

Don Giovanni is no man of modesty. Donna Elvira has interrupted his flirting with Zerlina and unmasked him as the heartbreaking seducer that he is, Donna Anna recognises him as her father’s murderer, and yet, Don Giovanni seems to thrive in the chaos. In his tongue-twisting aria he orders Leporello to prepare the Champagne and invite all the young ladies he can find to dance and drink all night. [Elisabeth]

 

2La traviata: "Libiamo ne’lieti calici"

Famed Parisian courtesan Violetta is hosting a party, at which Alfredo – her admirer from afar – is introduced. He is cajoled into singing a toast with her: cue one of Verdi’s most catchy numbers dragged out as an encore at countless galas. [Mark]

 

3Die Entführung aus dem Serail: "Vivat Bacchus! Bacchus lebe!"

Pedrillo tells Blonde of Belmonte’s escape plan. In order to outwit him, Pedrillo invites Osmin, the overseer for the Pasha, to drink a bottle of wine with him. Against his religious beliefs and after some hesitations, he drinks heavily, praises Bacchus for inventing wine and falls asleep. Once again, the operatic lovers are happily reunited (for now). [Elisabeth]

 

4Cavalleria rusticana: "Viva il vino spumeggiante"

It’s Easter Sunday and the villagers have just left the church when Turiddu invites his friends to drink a glass of wine (or two) with him. He’s in high spirits as he gets to spend some time with his mistress, Lola, and praises the wine that makes every thought a happy one. [Elisabeth]

 

5Faust: "Vin ou bière"

In Act 2 of Faust, students, soldiers and villagers sing a rousing song before the men head of to war. Wine or beer? A drunk drinks anything! Gounod adds a military touch with a swaggering trumpet interlude. [Mark]

 

6Les Contes d'Hoffmann: "Drig, Drig, Drig, Maître Luther"

While the students wait for the poet Hoffmann in a Nuremburg tavern, they indulge in a carousing drinking song. Wine or beer? Again, French composers don’t seem to think the Germans are that fussy, as long it keeps flowing until dawn! [Mark]

 

7Hamlet: "Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse"

A French take on The Bard, Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet went down well in London, even though one critic dismissed it thus: “No one but a barbarian or a Frenchman would have dared to make such a lamentable burlesque of so tragic a theme as Hamlet.” In a scene not found in Shakespeare, the gloomy Prince Hamlet grabs a goblet and sings the praises of wine in helping forget the “heavy chain” we all carry. [Mark]

 

8Otello: "Inaffia l'ugola!"

On the surface, it’s harmless fun: Iago proposes a toast to the wedding of Otello and Desdemona. However, the jealous Iago’s intentions are dark. His aim to get Cassio, just promoted above him, drunk so that Otello will strip him of his new post. Between verses, you can hear Iago and his sidekick, Roderigo, plotting. [Mark]

 

9Die Fledermaus: "Trinke, Liebchen, trinke schnell"

I don’t know one Austrian who can’t finish the line “Glücklich ist…” with “...der vergisst, was doch nicht zu ändern ist” (Happy is who forgets what can’t be changed anyway). Rosalinde’s husband, Gabriel von Eisenstein, has left the house to enjoy his last night of freedom and so she’s enjoying a tête-à-tête with her lover Alfred! He asks her to drink (in fact, drink quickly) to lift her spirits, because illusions are what make us happy. Basically the opposite of Drinkaware! [Elisabeth]

 

10Im weißen Rößl: "Laßt uns Champus trinken mit lächelndem Gesicht"

Speaking of Austrian alcoholics, please bear in mind that taste can be very subjective – when it comes to both wine and music. But sometimes, you just need a feel-good operetta like Im weißen Rößl (or the film version with Peter Alexander!). At the end of the operetta all misunderstandings are resolved and the happy couples raise a glass of champagne to toast their wonderful lives. [Elisabeth]