Unlike many cultural pastimes, the mere thought of opera can be quite scary. The stereotypical image of a large lady in a Viking horned helmet, complete with two fat plaits belting out an ear-splitting aria in a foreign language, probably doesn't help.

All this week on WhatsOnStage we have been trying to debunk that myth and encourage our readers to give opera a go. On Monday our Opera Editor, Mark Valencia, listed ten operas that would appeal to theatregoers and we even sent our Deputy Editor, Ben Hewis, a total opera virgin, to the Royal Opera House to sit through four hours of Don Carlos. Guess what? He loved it and wants to go back to see more.

If you think that you don't know opera and it's not for you, have a listen to these arias. We guarantee that you will recognise more than you initially thought you would and maybe even hum along unknowingly.

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1. "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" from The Magic Flute by Mozart

Translated as "Hell's vengeance boils in my heart" this is widely known as the Queen of the Night aria and is one of the most famous of all opera arias. June Anderson also sings it in the film Amadeus.


2. "Flower Duet" from Lakmé by Léo Delibes

First performed in Paris in 1883, this duet has been used in countless films and adverts since, including this 1989 one from British Airways.


3. "Largo al factotum" from The Barber of Seville by Rossini

The repeated calls "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro" from this aria is often used in popular culture when referring to opera, like this sketch from Harry Enfield and Chums.


4. "O sole mio" by Capurro and Capua

The legend that is Luciano Pavarotti won the 1980 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance for his rendition of this song. It was also used in this ice cream advert.


5. "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini

In 1969 Dame Joan Hammond won a Gold Record for 1 million copies sold of this aria. It features on the soundtrack for too many TV shows and films to list but they include Downton Abbey, Captain Correlli's Mandolin and A Room with a View.


6. "Nessun dorma" from Turandot by Puccini

This aria from Puccini's opera Turandot is one of the best-known ever. That great singer Pavarotti helped make it so and its swelling, beautiful tones are enough to lift any heavy heart.


7. "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto by Verdi

Da da da da Dum da-da. Verdi's Rigoletto features this hugely famous moment which was originally rehearsed ahead of its 1851 premiere in tight secrecy. Now you'll be able to hear it in football chants and the likes of computer game Grand Theft Auto.


8. "Un bel di" from Madama Butterfly by Puccini

This aria is sung by the character of Cio Cio San as she imagines the return of her love, Pinkerton. It's both heartbreaking and captivating. And although you wouldn't know it to hear it, the inspiration for Miss Saigon was, of course, Puccini's classic.

9. "Sempre libera" from La traviata by Verdi

This sprightly trilling sound was created by Verdi for La traviata. Sempre libera roughly translates as 'always free' and is sung by Violetta as she determines to continue her fun-loving way of living. Its boisterous exuberance is infectious.


10. "Habañera" from Carmen by Bizet

Bizet's "Habañera", "Love is a Rebellious Bird" is from his beautiful opera Carmen and is sung by the titular role. It tells of the untameable nature of love and first premiered in 1875 in Paris, where it scandalised audiences.