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.

The Art of Ettore Bastianini

December 15, 2018

Larry explores the all too brief life and career of this superb Italian baritone. He will be heard in some of his greatest roles from Don Carlo, La bohème, Andrea Chénier, and La Traviata.

For the Children

December 8, 2018

The holiday season is always about children and the child that lives within us. We will hear lullabies by Kathleen Battle, Boris Christoff, Marilyn Horne, and Ian Bostridge. The prayer from Hänsel und Gretel is sung by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Elisabeth Grümmer. The Vienna Boys Choir sing a chorus from Bizet’s Carmen as well.

Remembering Montserrat Caballé

December 1, 2018

Larry offers a one‐hour memorial tribute beginning at 4pm to one of the most outstanding voices of our time. This master of legato and pianissimo will be heard in prominent roles from Norma, Aida, Louise, and La Traviata as well as selections from Spanish zarzuelas.

Puccini, Puccini, Puccini

November 24, 2018

Truly a feast for Puccini fans. It would be enough just hearing Renée Fleming and Jonas Kaufmann in La rondine or Victoria de los Ángeles and Jussi Björling singing the love duet from Madama Butterfly. There’s more as well sung by Licia Albanese, Franco Corelli and Maria Callas.

Heroes and Heroines in Opera

November 17, 2018

Wagner’s Valkyries bring slain heroes to Valhalla. Christa Ludwig is Fidelio who does whatever is necessary to save her husband. Enrico Caruso is the Spanish hero, El Cid, and Jon Vickers as Rhadames leads the Egyptians to victory in Verdi’s Aida.

Early Twentieth Century Opera in Chicago

November 10, 2018

We go back in time when opera was performed at the Auditorium Theatre from the beginning of the twentieth century to the opening of the Civic Opera House in 1929. Some of the greatest stars of their time will be heard such as Mary Garden, Tito Schipa, Edith Mason, Feodor Chaliapin, Amelita Galli‐Curci and Pol Plançon.


November 3, 2018

Lost in their dreams are Kirsten Flagstad, Jussi Björling, Renée Fleming, Jonas Kaufmann, and more.

Food for Thought

October 27, 2018

A tasty treat for all! The Robert Shaw Chorale takes us to a clambake, Fanny Brice cooks breakfast, the Crab Man and Strawberry Woman from Porgy and Bess offer food for sale, a little boy named Oliver wants more to eat, and there is a tribute to Julia Child.

The English Songbook

October 20, 2018

A survey of songs by Vaughan Williams, Delius, and Purcell among others; sung by Bryn Terfel, Kathleen Ferrier, Ian Bostridge, Alice Coote, David Daniels, Felicity Lott, Simon Keenlyside, Anne Murray, and more.

Larry’s Favorite Records

October 13, 2018

Once again, Larry shares some of his favorites. Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne sing from Bellini’s Norma. Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings Rachmaninoff. Sondra Radvanovsky is heard in an aria by Dvořák and Jussi Björling sings a song by Tosti.

Six American Sopranos

October 6, 2018

Six sopranos from the past and present are heard. They are Eileen Farrell, Edith Mason, Christine Brewer, Kitty Carlisle, Renée Fleming and Eleanor Steber.

Plácido Domingo’s 50th Anniversary at the Met

September 29, 2018

His seemingly never‐ending career is highlighted with selections from Otello, Don Carlo, and Adriana Lecouvreur, which was his debut role. His native Spain is recalled with a song from a zarzuela.

Kirsten Flagstad Sings Wagner

September 22, 2018

Long acknowledged as one the greatest Wagnerian voices of the twentieth century, the Norwegian soprano will be heard in Die Walküre and Götterdämmerung.

Opera Singers of Spain

September 15, 2018

Larry presents seven Spanish singers in opera and song. They are Montserrat Caballé, José Carreras, Teresa Berganza, Alfredo Kraus, Victoria de los Ángeles, Plácido Domingo, and Conchita Supervía.

Two Courtesans, Two Queens, and a Princess

September 8, 2018

Five women with, shall we say, unusual professions. Working hard are Renata Scotto, Shirley Verrett, Hermione Gingold, Rita Streich and Joyce DiDonato.

Play Gypsy, Dance Gypsy

September 1, 2018

Gypsies have long been a favorite topic for composers. Hear delightful and melodic songs and arias sung by Leontyne Price, Conchita Supervia, Fritz Wunderlich, Angela Gheorghiu, Renata Tebaldi and more.

Leonard Bernstein’s 100th Birthday Tribute

August 25, 2018

Larry explores the life of this endlessly fascinating musician. You will hear him as a conductor, composer, and accompanist. The program features him conducting Maria Callas at La Scala and Marilyn Horne at the Metropolitan Opera, to selections from his various Broadway musicals – which certainly includes West Side Story!

One Theme, Multiple Operas

August 18, 2018

Two La bohèmes, two Fausts and two Manons are heard in this program. Sorting out the differences are Renée Fleming, Nicolai Gedda, Victoria de los Ángeles, Anna Netrebko, Boris Christoff, Anna Moffo and Angela Gheorghiu.

Silence, Please!

August 11, 2018

Two operatic calls for silence. One by Rita Gorr in Verdi’s Aida with Leontyne Price. The other for the finale of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger with Ben Heppner, José van Dam and more with the Chicago Symphony led by Sir Georg Solti.

Scenes from Russian Opera

August 4, 2018

Dmitri Hvorostovsky and supporting cast give us a scene from Prokofiev’s War and Peace. Then the duet between Marina and Dmitri from Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov is sung by Evelyn Lear and Nicolai Gedda.