29 Opera Arrangements for String and Full Orchestra

One of an orchestra teacher’s duties is to introduce students to a variety of musical styles and genres. In an orchestra setting, one way to do this is by playing music from that style or genre. Opera is a particularly interesting and important musical style to introduce students to. To that end, we’re highlighting some of the string and full orchestra arrangements of opera selections available from Tempo Press.

String Orchestra

Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore

This intermediate string arrangement of the famous chorus from Il Trovatore is everything you have come to expect from Sandra Dackow: spectacular music that has been simplified without losing its character. The Violin I, Cello and bass parts require some shifting, while Violin II and Viola remain entirely in first position. And don’t forget the anvils!! This is a great opportunity to have a ‘guest’ percussionist (a principal, superintendent, local celebrity, etc.) join the orchestra.

Aubade from Le Cid

Le Cid is a typical French Grand Opera on an exciting historical subject with lots of Spanish-flavored music. The beautiful Aubade, a morning love song, uses pizzicato to evoke the sound of Spanish guitars. This piece remains entirely in first position with the exception of the final note in the first violin part.

Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffmann

The lovely Barcarolle evokes the feeling of being poled on a small boat, or barca, on the canals of Venice. This intermediate arrangement for string orchestra can be played entirely in first position, though shifting will make some of the passages easier to play and more musical. This piece provides the perfect opportunity to highlight your harpist. The harp part is integral to the piece but can be played on a keyboard instrument if necessary.

Chorus Of The Huntsmen from Der Freischütz

Long a favorite of Suzuki students, this beloved opera melody works extremely well with beginner orchestras. Scored in the lower registers of the key of C major, it guarantees a successful playing and learning experience.

Cossack Dance from Mazeppa

Moving at a fast pace in 2/4 time, this energetic dance requires precision and accuracy from every section of the ensemble.

Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Orpheus and Euridice

This baroque favorite has been expertly arranged by Robert Longfield. A musical gem for young string orchestras!

Dance Of The Tumblers from Snow Maiden

This arrangement has been a favorite of students, teachers and audiences since it was published. All sections make important contributions, and all players have something to do. Originally arranged for an elementary school orchestra, this arrangement sounds more difficult than it actually is.

Danse Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila

Samson et Dalila is one of the 19th Century’s opera blockbusters. This intermediate arrangement of the famous Danse Bacchanale utilizes considerable divisi writing to recreate the texture of the original full orchestra setting. Some shifting is required in the first violin, cello, and bass parts and the cello parts involve moving quickly between forward and backward extensions, due to the minor key. The viola part involves optional shifting for the beautiful theme of the slow section. With its exciting tempos and familiars melodies, this title is the perfect closer for your concert program.

Entrance And March Of The Guests from Tannhäuser

A rich and romantic concert piece, this arrangement is best suited to a larger group. It contains considerable divisi writing to accommodate the original scoring for chorus and orchestra. This arrangement challenges traditional notions of intermediate string orchestra scoring.

Last Rose of Summer from Martha

Friedrich von Flotow adapted the popular Irish song “The Last Rose of Summer” for use in his opera Martha. For this arrangement, Robert Longfield has preserved the legato phrasing and rich harmonies of the original in a form playable by an intermediate string orchestra.

Overture to Lucio Silla

Written during Mozart’s teenage years, this is a bold and robust overture. It is a worthy addition to advancing string repertoires.

March Of The Meistersingers from Die Meistersinger

This is an easy arrangement, which, through close scoring, makes the young string orchestra sound especially full.

Overture to Nabucco

Now available for string orchestra! Sandra Dackow has carefully reduced and editied this favorite Verdi overture for performance by intermediate string orchestras. Third (and a few 4th and 5th) position notes are necessary in the 1st violin parts and the solo cello parts at the beginning require position and extension work.

O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi

This familiar aria from Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi is faithfully arranged with careful attention to the gorgeous lyricism and emotional expression found in the original. Individual parts require modest technical facility (all parts in first postion). Much is demanded musically and expressively. Harp or piano is required.

Pilgrims' Chorus from Tannhäuser

This majestic arrangement of the famous Wagner chorus is the perfect opportunity to introduce triplet rhythms to your students. Both students and audiences will be surprised by how full this arrangement makes a beginning string orchestra sound.

Overture to The Pirates of Penzance

Carefully edited for intermediate string orchestra, this adaptation maintains the rich harmonic textures of the original full orchestra score through a number of divisi passages in both the violins and cellos.

Overture to Rienzi

While the initial reaction might be that this Wagner work might overtax intermediate strings, in the hands of a fine and accomplished arranger, such as Dr. Dackow, it is another luminous addition to the string orchestra repertoire. While the players need to have an advanced intermediate technical facility, the results are worth the effort.

Susy, Little Susy from Hansel and Gretel

In this lovely waltz from Humperdinck’s much-loved opera, the arranger has crafted a comfortable, well-edited, and pedagogically sound work for young players. In the key of F major, with an integral piano part (but its exposures are cued in other instruments if none is available), it also includes beginner parts for all strings as well as the regular parts. An included Violin 3 part may be used as a viola substitute. In these ways, this arrangement can be crafted to fit many uses and capabilities.

Wandern ach Wandern

The best-known song from Neuendorff’s operetta Die Rattfänger von Hameln (The Pied Piper of Hamelin), “Wandern, ach Wandern” introduces the Pied Piper as sings about his loneliness as he wanders from place to place. Here it is arranged for intermediate orchestra by Lloyd Conley and features an unusual 9/8 time.

Overture to William Tell - Finale

Players and audiences alike will enjoy the rousing, well-known melodies of this arrangement. In addition, the optional ‘Festival’ pack of parts, including percussion and open string parts, makes this a great selection for large, extravaganza performances.

Full Orchestra

Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore

This intermediate full orchestra arrangement of the famous chorus from Il Trovatore is everything you have come to expect from Sandra Dackow: spectacular music that has been simplified without losing its character. Carefully edited so that it can be performed by intermediate orchestras. First violins, cello and basses have a few shifts into positions, while second violin and viola parts can be played entirely in first position. Woodwind and brass parts are edited with fingerings, slide positions and courtesy accidentals for the benefit of those students without extensive playing experience in sharp keys. A violin III part (treble clef viola) has been provided as well as optional harp parts.

Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffmann

This famous excerpt requires style and balance in order to make this piece come to life!

Dance Of The Tumblers from Snow Maiden

As the title implies, this is a lively, energetic work. Arranged for developing players, the eighth and sixteenth note passages sound more difficult than they are. Particular care was taken to retain as much of the shimmering orchestration as possible.

Danse Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila

Samson et Dalila is one of the 19th Century’s opera blockbusters. Some shifting is required in the first violin, cello and bass parts and the cello parts involve moving quickly between forward and backwards extensions, due to the minor key. The viola part involves optional shifting for the beautiful theme of the slow section.

March of the Toys from Babes in Toyland

This accessible arrangement for ensembles who might find the original work’s difficult key and tricky 9/8 rhythms cumbersome, keeps the overall effects of the operetta the same. Lightness in style is key throughout the piece, as the toys are heard approaching, presented, and then passing into the distance.

Overture to Nabucco

Originally arranged for a junior high school festival orchestra, this title sounds more difficult than it actually is. Dr. Dackow has simplified the composer’s rapid passagework, allowing the original tempi to be maintained. This is a terrific selection for a concert or contest program.

Non più andrai from Le Nozze de Figaro

Sandra Dackow has arranged this famous aria from The Marriage of Figaro for full orchestra. She has creatively used the expanded instrumentation of the school orchestra to highlight the aria’s military theme.

Overture to The Pirates of Penzance

Sullivan’s delightful Overture, including “Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here”, is a favorite with listeners around the world. Already a potpourri arranged from the most engaging tunes from Pirates of Penzance, Dackow’s arrangement expands the small pit orchestration into a work with rewarding parts for everyone in a full, symphonic ensemble. Violin parts do not exceed third position and wind parts are carefully edited for upper intermediate players. Players and audiences will have a blast with this tuneful overture!

Overture to Rienzi

Intended for high school groups, this arrangement can also be performed by a good junior high school group. It requires full brass and percussion sections; the result is very exciting and will make young, developing orchestras sound terrific.

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