Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
It's Mozart's birthday. While he is not one of my favourite composers, it's difficult to not admire his pure genius and personality. I usually acknowledge his birthday with my most treasured of his operas, Die Zauberflote.
It was the first complete opera LP box set I ever owned, the Karl Bohm classic with Fritz Wunderlich, Evelyn Lear and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. My father bought it for me from a local antique shop, together with Karajan's Beethoven's 9th, when was about 10 and had just started to appreciate fine music. It remains my personal favourite to this day.
Due to my father's musical curiosity and willingness to set me free on my own musical journey, I have him and Mozart to thank for a very early introduction to the enjoyment of opera. At that age, hearing Der Vogelfanger Bin Ich Ja and picturing a guy in a bird suit was rather fun, not to mention the dragons, evil queens (I've known a few) and Egyptian High Priests.
Here is Roberta Peters singing O Zittre Nicht from the Karl Bohm set. Through all the difficult tessitura she manages to convey a mother's suffering to great effect. To me this aria is one of Mozart's most perfect of creations.