An aria by Henry Purcell has beaten more famous pieces to be voted the nation's favourite. "When I Am Laid In Earth", from Dido And Aeneas, Purcell's only fully sung stage work and one of the earliest English operas, beat pieces from Mozart, Wagner and Puccini in a poll for BBC Radio 3.
The aria, popularly known as Dido's Lament, comes at the end of the opera as Dido, Queen of Carthage, flings herself on a funeral pyre after being abandoned by Aeneas, Prince of Troy.
Radio 3 launched the survey on Rob Cowan's breakfast programme. 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."
"Dove Sono" from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro was voted second, with "Liebestod" from Wagner's Tristan And Isolde third. "Nessun Dorma", the popular Puccini composition, failed to make the top 10, as did other well-known arias such as "Porgi amor" from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and "The Toreador Song" from Bizet's Carmen.