When Opera Singers Sing Christmas

December 24, 2022, 4:00 pm

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Jonas Kaufmann in a tuxedo blwoing snow off his hand toward the camera
Jonas Kaufmann (Photo: Gregor Hohenberg)

Opera singers’ Christmas albums used to be a rite of passage, but have become increasingly rare. The 2020 release of Jonas Kaufmann’s It’s Christmas got Oliver Camacho thinking about how opera singers can elevate some of the most familiar melodies of the season.


Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff: All I Want for Christmas Is You*
Traditional German: Maria durch ein Dornwald ging
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor
Cologne Studio Big Band*
St. Florianer Sängerknaben†
Mozarteumorchester Salzburg†
Jochen Reider, conductor
It’s Christmas
Sony G010004592344D

Meredith Wilson: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas*
Henri Martinet: Petit Papa Noël
Angela Gheorghiu, soprano
Iona Dan, soprano*
Romanian Radio National Orchestra
Tiberiu Soare, conductor
Guardian Angel
Mediapro Music 0134

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart arr. Daryl Runswick: A Little Christmas Music
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
The King’s Singers
Richard Hickox, harpsichord
The King’s Singers: A Little Christmas Music
EMI CDC 7-49909-2

Thomas Bold/William J. Kirkpatrick: A Lullaby/Away in a Manger
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Christmas with Chanticleer featuring special guest Dawn Upshaw
Teldec 8573-85555-2

Traditional Italian: Tu scendi dalle stelle
Carlo Bergonzi, tenor
Gumpoldskirchner Spatzen
Paul Angerer, conductor
Carlo Bergonzi: Weinachten
Orfeo C-030-821-A

Adolphe Adam arr. Donald Fraser: O Holy Night
Donald Fraser: This Christmastide (Jessye’s Carol)
Jessye Norman, soprano
New York Choral Society
American Boychoir
Empire Chamber Ensemble
Robert De Cormier, conductor
Jessye Norman: Christmastide
Philips 420180-2

Hugh Martin arr. Jonathan Tunick: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Thomas Hampson, baritone
The Abbey Road Ensemble
Jonathan Tunick, conductor
Our Christmas Songs for You
EMI CDC 7-2435-56176-2

Traditional English arr. Svante Henryson: Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
Per-Erik Moraeus: Koppången
(sung in English)*
Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano
Stockholm Chamber Brass
Studio ensemble (Bengan Jansson, Kalle Moraeus, Svante Henryson)*
Home for Christmas

Deutsche Grammophon 289-459-685-2

Traditional Polish: Bóg sie rodzi 
Traditional Russian: Das Lied vom Feuerspan
Traditional Czech: Pujdem spolo Betléma 
Traditional Hungarian: Ménnybol az angyal 
Traditional American: Sweet Little Jesus Boy
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Eric Ericson Chamber Choir
Adolf Fredrik’s Music School Children’s Choir
Stockholm Chamber Orchestra
Eric Ericson, conductor
Barbara Hendricks Sings Christmas
EMI 7-2435-55536-2

Traditional French: Angels We Have Heard on High
Traditional Welsh: Deck the Hall
Joan Sutherland, soprano
The Ambrosian Singers
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Richard Bonynge, conductor
Joan Sutherland: Joy to the World
Decca 475-6153