Best Halloween Songs for the Opera Enthusiast

Some of the best Halloween songs are opera songs that are part of the classical music opera repertoire. The origin of Halloween dates back to pre-Christian times in the United Kingdom. Today, what does Halloween mean to most of us? Halloween desserts, Halloween stories and Halloween jewelry are an important part of many Halloween party themes.

Choosing scary music and music to listen to from among the best of opera music to complement a scary Halloween theme can be a challenge.


Read to Discover the Best Halloween Songs


What Are the Best Halloween Songs?

Best Halloween Songs
Best Halloween Songs

Best Halloween songs, or, is it best Hallowe’en songs – what do you think?

If you think that Hallowe’en is the correct spelling, then you are right! But, you belong to the older generation! The spelling “Hallowe’en” is the way it used to be taught in schools. Today’s teachers are teaching “Halloween” – no apostrophe!

In many cultures around the world, it is believed that on a certain night of the year the souls of the departed return to earth. In European cultures and, in particular, those of the English speaking world, the night of Halloween is dedicated to the remembrance of the dead and, the belief that on this night, their souls wander the earth.

In the Christian tradition, Halloween is a night dedicated to prayers for the dead, assisting them in their safe passage to heaven for everlasting peace and joy. In pre-Christian tradition, it was believed that evil spirits impeded the safe passage of these souls and in order to ensure that the souls had a safe and successful trip, the evil spirits needed to be scared off – hence – the bonfires, masks, rituals, spells and pranks.

On the other hand, in today’s secular world, Halloween is a night of costumes (witches, skeletons and ghosts), decorations (jack-o-lanterns, candles and black cats) and parties. Interestingly, among the colours (orange and black), symbols (spiders, tombstone and pumpkins) and food (candy and apples), there are neither songs nor music that are traditionally associated with Halloween.

This means that to find the best Halloween songs from among this lack of any Halloween songs can indeed be a challenge!


Best Halloween Songs for Opera Enthusiasts

Best Halloween Songs in Opera
Best Halloween Songs in Opera

If there is an overall lack of Halloween songs (see above) then how can there be any “best Halloween songs”? After all, how do you choose “the best” when there is no famous Halloween music to choose?

Halloween, of course, is not usually identified with opera, and classical opera music. Certainly, Halloween has not been included as a prime theme or setting in any of the classical opera repertoire. On the other hand, a fear of death has been prevalent throughout the ages, as has been a desire to maintain contact with those who have passed on. And, the theme of death and the afterlife is present in many of the great opera songs.

Playing music that evokes the emotions and images of Halloween is a good way to enhance the evening of Halloween. With the growing popularity of Halloween, opera enthusiasts might want to join in the festivities by including some scary or creepy opera songs into the evening’s plans as the kids come trick-or-treating or as friends gather for some bobbing-for-apples and ghoulish punch.


Best Halloween Songs by the Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night
Queen of the Night

The Queen of the Night in the opera The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) is as close as we can get to an opera character singing one of the best Halloween songs. True, The Queen of the Night is usually portrayed as an elegant figure. Certainly, she is not a black witch with a crooked nose and broomstick. However, her obsession with all things dark and her mystical battles with the sun, underscore the classical conflict between good and evil.

In Act II, Scene 3 of the opera The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote), the Queen of the Night instructs her daughter, Pamina, to kill Sarastro, who is the Queen’s long-time enemy. It is at this point in the opera, when she commands her daughter to kill, that the Queen of the Night performs one of the most famous arias in the coloratura soprano repertoire.

Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart) is an extremely demanding aria. The song has high notes that evoke shivers even in those who are not opera lovers. It has F6 notes, the highest notes that the human voice can sing. This is most definitely, one of the best Halloween songs in the classical opera music repertoire.


Best Creepy Songs for an Opera Halloween

Azucena – Creepy Songs
Azucena – Creepy Songs

One of the most creepy highlights and another best from among potential Halloween songs for opera singing is in Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901).

The opera Il trovatore is based on the grisly background story of a child thrown into a bonfire, which is the catalyst for all subsequent tragic developments in the opera. The events preceding the opera time frame are eerily Halloween – stories told around a bonfire, witches burned at the stake, ghosts of the past that haunt the present….

In Act I, Scene 1 of the opera Il trovatore, Ferrando, an officer in Count di Luna’s guard, relates an eerie ghost story: There was a witch who was burned at the stake on orders of the Count. In retaliation, the witch’s daughter kidnapped the Count’s baby brother and, according to lore, threw him into the same fire that burned her mother.

In Act II, Scene 1, we meet the witch’s daughter, Azucena, who remembers her mother’s death by fire. The haunting vocals and the creepy text of Stride la vampa make for one of the best Halloween opera songs.

In the video clip above, Myron Yusypovych conducts at the Lviv Philharmonia in Western Ukraine. Italian Mezzo-soprano Monica Minarelli performs Azucena in one of the best Halloween songs in the opera repertoire.

Stride la vampa! Take her to the stake!
La folla indomita The unrestrained mob
corre a quell fuocco runs to the bonfire –
lieta in sembianza; their faces filled with glee;
urli di gioia revelry
intorno echeggiano: reverberates:
cinta di sgherri surrounded by thugs
donna s’avanza! a woman is brought forth!
Sinistra splende Malice shines
sui volti orribili on the horrific faces
la tetra fiamma as the ghastly blaze
che s’alza al ciel! rises to the sky!
Stride la vampa! Take her to the stake!
Guinge la vittima The victim arrives
nerovestita all dressed in black,
discinta e scalza! bedraggled and barefoot!
Grido feroce A vicious scream
di mortr levasi; of death is raised;
L’eco il ripete The clamour echoing
di balza in balza! through the hills!
Sinistra splende Malice shines
vui volti orribili on the horrific faces
la tetra fiamma – as the ghastly blaze
che s’alza al ciel! rises to the sky!

(NOTE: The above translation of the lyrics was done for this website!)


Best Scary Halloween Songs in the Opera Repertoire

Opera Faust – Scary Music
Opera Faust – Scary Music

One of the scariest songs in the opera repertoire that is perfect for Halloween, is Le veau d’or est toujours debout (The Golden Calf is still standing) sung by Mephistopheles in the opera Faust. The opera by Charles Gounod (1818 – 1893) is based on the classic legend of a man who forsakes his soul to Satan in return for universal knowledge and the bodily pleasures of youth.

In Act II, Mephistopheles, Satan’s messenger, declares that the Golden Calf continues to be revered by humans on earth. The power of greed and lust maintains control over both the mighty and the weak, the rich and the poor. In short, Satan controls the earthly dance of humans and rules the human race.

Interestingly, it is understandable why this particular aria was famous and frequently performed in the now non-existent Soviet Union (1922 – 1991). Mephistopheles declares the triumph of Satan over all earthly achievements and pleasures – truly, one of the scariest Halloween opera songs.

A German evil queen, an Italian witch’s daughter and a French messenger from Satan are from among the more famous opera songs and certainly among the best Halloween songs for the opera enthusiast.

Enjoy the best of Halloween opera music listening!

Text by Oksana A. Wynnyckyj-Yusypovych


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