The 5 Songs That Changed It All

By Nathan Straub

Below, you will find five songs that have dramatically changed me as a singer, teacher, and person. Each of them resemble an important moment in my development as a person and musician. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

1.    Che Gelida Manina, sung by Nicolai Gedda

This song is amazing! Gedda uses his distinct voice with powerful impact in this Puccini aria from "La Boheme." The legendary tenor showed me that being technically perfect is only half the battle. Emotion and commitment to what you're singing plays an equal part.

2."Dies bildnis ist bezaubernd schon," sung by Fritz Wunderlich

Wunderlich died at the age of 36, just a few weeks before his debut at the Metropolitan Opera. The few records that exist of his are proof that had he lived a full life, he would have given Pavarotti a run for his money! Unfortunately, Wunderlich's powerful voice led me astray, as I attempted to mimic his heavier instrument with my naturally lighter one. Luckily, I had a voice teacher who set me straight!

3."Un Bel di Vedremo" sung by Maria Callas

Callas was arguably one of the most expressive singers in the operatic genre. I have listened to numerous interpretations of Madame Butterfly's famous aria, but none can compare, in my opinion, to her raw vocal power on the climactic high note, as well as the musical sensitivity displayed throughout the song.

4. "Soliloquy" sung by Thomas Hampson

Some of you may recall this song as the one my wife and I used at our gender reveal party. It is a wonderful moment in the musical, Carousel, where Billy finds a significant purpose in providing for his daughter. This tragically leads to his death later on, but the song is full of such hope and tenderness for his daughter, that I couldn't resist including it in the list. My own daughter will be arriving on July 3rd, and I see this song as a sort of anthem to her.

5. "The Pilgrim's Chorus" from Tannhauser

Choral pieces have always been a favorite of mine, but few have affected me as profoundly as that of Wagner's Pilgrim's Chorus. The scene of hundreds of people, redeemed from their pasts, walking past the soprano lead, who is searching for her lover in the throng of new arrivals, only for him not to be found, is strangely emotional for me. This is the only scene in opera that has caused me to cry, and I stand by Wagner's musical genius for that accomplishment! 

Thank you for checking out my blog post. Feel free to post on the AWSOM Facebook Page about your favorite songs (classical or popular)!