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Purcell Aria is nation's favourite

England today triumphed over greats from Germany, Italy and the rest of the world - in a search for the nation's favourite aria.

Composer Henry Purcell's When I Am Laid In Earth beat much-loved pieces from the likes of Mozart, Wagner and Puccini in the poll for BBC Radio 3.

Nessun Dorma, the popular Puccini composition often associated with the World Cup after being used as the BBC theme for Italia '90, failed to make the top 10.

Purcell's winning work is taken from Dido And Aeneas, his only fully-sung stage work and one of the earliest English operas.

The aria features at the end of the opera as Dido, Queen of Carthage, flings herself on a funeral pyre after being abandoned by Trojan Prince Aeneas.

This is the first time that Radio 3 has conducted a search on this scale.

Radio 3 launched the survey on Rob Cowan's breakfast programme last month. with listeners voting online.

Presenter Cowan said: "I'm not in the least surprised. As operatic arias go, this has to be among the greatest of all - a grief-laden outpouring that's up there with the best of Puccini or Wagner. And what a melody."

Radio 3 controller Roger Wright said: "We're delighted that our listeners have enjoyed hearing these great arias on Radio 3 Breakfast.

"It is pleasing to see the way in which they have engaged with this fun search for the favourite aria and continue to enjoy the BBC's celebration of opera."

The aria search is part of a BBC-wide opera season.

The top 10 is as follows (with opera and composer in brackets):

1. When I Am Laid In Earth (Dido And Aeneas, Purcell)

2. Dove Sono (Marriage of Figaro, Mozart)

3. Liebestod (Tristan And Isolde, Wagner)

4. E Lucevan Le Stelle (Tosca, Puccini)

5. Casta Diva (Norma, Bellini)

6. Song To The Moon (Rusalka, Dvorak)

7. Che Faro Senza Euridice? (Orfeo Ed Euridice, Gluck)

8. The Queen Of The Night's Second Aria Der Holle Rache (Magic Flute, Mozart)

9. Ruhe Sanft, Mein Holdes Leben (Zaide, Mozart)

10. Marietta's Lied Gluck Das Mir Verblieb (Die Tote Stadt, Korngold)