Arias and Songs

Saturdays at 4:30 pm

The Chagall ceiling of Opéra Garnier in Paris (Photo: Lin Padgham, CC BY 2.0, cropped, via Flickr)

Enjoy recording collector and host Larry Johnson’s vast library of vocal music.

Arias and Songs celebrates great singers of the past and present, from Maria Callas and Jussi Björling to Renée Fleming and Jonas Kaufmann. Each week, recording collector and host Larry Johnson spins a wonderful web of opera, operetta, Broadway tunes, art songs—even vintage pop. Expect the unexpected as Larry guides you through the range and nuance of vocal artistry, with some programs tied to local performances, as well.

The player below features a continuous three hour loop of the most recent Arias and Songs episodes to be joined in progress.

Italian Opera in German

August 24, 2019

Guten Tag! At one time, opera-goers expected to hear performances in their own language! Who knew? Larry offers examples as sung in the German-speaking countries by Leonie Rysanek, Fritz Wunderlich, Erna Berger, and Pilar Lorengar.

Trouser Roles in Opera

August 17, 2019

Not men, but women wear the pants in a series of so‐called “trouser” roles. Teresa Berganza is Mozart’s Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, Joyce DiDonato is Bellini’s Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Marilyn Horne is Mozart’s Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, and more.

Heard in “Live” Performance

August 10, 2019

An eclectic collection indeed! Marcella Sembrich sings at a 1903 Metropolitan Opera concert, Maria Callas is heard in the Lisbon Traviata, Ferruccio Furlanetto is the Prince in Eugene Onegin at the 2007 Salzburg Festival, the ‘Cat Duet’ by Rossini is purred by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Victoria de los Ángeles in London, and much more will be hear live in performance.

A Trip To Naples

August 3, 2019

Larry takes you to the San Carlo Opera in Naples for highlights from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur. Cast includes Magda Olivero, Franco Corelli, and Naples’ favorite son, Enrico Caruso. There are also songs by Tito Gobbi, Mario Lanza, Richard Tauber, and Barbara Hendricks.


July 27, 2019

Delilah betrays Sampson, Radamès betrays his country in Aida, Lt. Pinkerton betrays Butterfly, and more. Among the betrayers and the betrayed are Christa Ludwig, Angela Gheorghiu, Maria Callas, Beniamino Gigli, James King, and Carlo Bergonzi.

Recalling the 1969 Moon Landing

July 20, 2019

Larry recalls a half century since humankind first walked on the moon. In this hour-long program, Anna Netrebko sings the ‘Song to the Moon’ from Rusalka. Also heard are Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna as unrequited lovers in a moonlit scene from Werther, Eileen Farrell sings ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ and so much more.

A Program For Bastille Day

July 13, 2019

How better to celebrate this French holiday than with the sparkling and effervescent music of Jacques Offenbach? Celebrants include Beverly Sills, Richard Tauber, Joan Sutherland, Jussi Björling, and more.

Four Operatic Quintets

July 6, 2019

Operatic ensembles at their best from The Magic Flute, Un ballo in maschera, Carmen, and Die Meistersinger. Among the many artists heard are Victoria de los Ángeles, René Kollo, Shirley Verrett, Nicolai Gedda, and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.

A Program for Gay Pride Weekend

June 29, 2019

For a special one-hour program beginning at 4:30pm, Larry showcases the talents of gay composers Gian Carlo Menotti, Reynaldo Hahn, and Michael Tippett. Also featured are Peter Pears, Nathan Lane, Josephine Baker, Donald Gramm, and pianists, Earl Wild, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and more.

Death Scenes from French Opera

June 22, 2019

Dorothy Kirsten welcomes death in Thaïs. Franco Corelli as Don José murders Leontyne Price as Carmen. Over the top melodrama abounds as Feodor Chaliapin succumbs as Don Quichotte.

Creator Recordings

June 15, 2019

Larry presents truly historic recordings that include the first Lt. Pinkerton, Giovanni Zenatello, in Madama Butterfly. Then the first Marchallin in Der Rosenkavalier, Margarethe Siems. In Verdi’s first Falstaff, Victor Maurel is heard and Richard Tauber in Lehar’s The Land of Smiles conducted by the composer.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

June 8, 2019

Lions, tigers, and bears are feared by Dorothy and her friends in The Wizard of Oz. This zoological program acknowledges not only lions, tigers, and bears, but also seals, dogs, swans, and more. Among those dropping by the zoo are Marilyn Horne, John McCormack, Kirsten Flagstad, and Peter Pears.

The Art of Claudia Muzio

June 1, 2019

This superb Italian soprano from the first half of the twentieth century is heard is some of her greatest roles in Tosca, Andrea Chénier, as well as a Chicago favorite, La traviata. There are songs also by Licinio Refice and Arturo Buzzi-Peccia.

The Art of Reynaldo Hahn

May 25, 2019

The fascinating life and career of this French composer, conductor, accompanist, singer, and voice teacher will be explored in recordings by Victoria de los Ángeles and Maggie Teyte. Hahn will be heard performing his own songs and some delightful Offenbach as well.

A Program of Prayers

May 18, 2019

Larry offers operatic prayers from Cavalleria rusticana and Der Freischütz. Then Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria,’ ‘Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow,’ and the cowboy prayer, ‘Home on the Range.’ Artists include Angela Gheorghiu, the Robert Shaw Chorale, Elisabeth Grümmer, and John Charles Thomas.

The Art of Jessye Norman

May 11, 2019

Larry presents the magnificent voice of Jessye Norman in some of her greatest roles from Ariadne auf Naxos, Dido and Aeneas, Tannhäuser, and more. A must for her fans will be her rendition of ‘Amazing Grace.’

Historic Figures in Opera

May 4, 2019

So many to choose from. We hear Spain’s El Cid sung by Plácido Domingo, Joan of Arc by Eileen Farrell, Mary Queen of Scots by Joyce DiDonato, and Mark Antony by Vanni‐Marcoux.

A Trip to London

April 27, 2019

Our first stop is Covent Garden for an aria from one of its greatest stars, Nellie Melba. Rex Harrison observes how the English speak in My Fair Lady. Noël Coward sings “London Pride” and we enjoy the melodic wit of Gilbert & Sullivan.

Fire and Music

April 20, 2019

A combustible combination as René Pape singing “Wotan’s Farewell” and “Fire Music” from Die Walküre. Régine Crespin witnesses the burning of Troy in Les Troyens. Larissa Diadkova sees her mother burned at the stake in Il trovatore.

A Trip to Sicily

April 6, 2019

There is nothing like a Sicilian curse! Carlo Bergonzi gets one he won’t forget from Fiorenza Cossotto in Cavalleria rusticana. Victoria de los Ángeles and Giuseppe Di Stefano are heard in songs. Also, there will be an offer you can’t refuse as we pay our respects to The Godfather.