Kreisler Schmaltz is not opera schmaltz. Opera schmaltz is greasier with less salt and onions. The schmaltziest aria of all time is Nessun dorma from Turandot. Furtiva lagrima would be worse, but it's from a comedy and is self-reflexive schmaltz which is somehow less schmaltzedich. Nevertheless, I abandon all self-respect when I listen to it.
Let it be said that "Boar knows schmaltz." Let it also be said that Boar cries easily. Le Marseillaise from Casablanca... every time. Casablanca is so schmaltzy it might as well be an opera. "If she can take it, so can I. Play it."
The schmaltziest opera singer was Pavarotti -- although Boccelli (who's not an actual opera singer) is schmaltzier yet.
My favorite tenor is the non-schmaltzy, beautifully voiced, Jussi Bjorling. Sink your teeth into this duet, Au fond du temple saint from the Pearl Fishers. If you want to do comparative schmaltz studies, here's the Boccelli version. See? Want more Bjorling? Here's an impossibly clean Nessun dorma. More Bjorling: They used to say that Caruso's voice was gold and Bjorling's was silver. Pretty fair.
Not to take anything away from Madame Butterfly, but the saddest non-schmaltz solo aria has got to be Sparga d'amaro pianto from Lucia. The echoes from the love scene are frikkin' eery. Don't know about you, but I mist up at the first note. So beautiful, so tragic. Aristotle thought you couldn't really have one without the other.
I really like Puccini, but find it hard to listen without getting distracted by the specter of Andrew Lloyd Weber taking notes.
Here's looking at you, kid,
Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/11/11 at 12:12pm