! Let's get this thing rolling...
My first symphonic selection for you is an essential one IMO, and one that I think you will enjoy time and time again (If you do not, then all hope is lost!
Beethoven- Symphony No. 3 in Eb major, Op. 55 "Eroica"
This is the famed symphony that Beethoven had originally intended to dedicate to Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he admired for vanquishing of aristocracy. Of course, the victorious Napoleon gained much power and eventually named himself Emperor of France, infuriating Beethoven. The dedication was removed and the symphony was renamed "Eroica" or "heroic." (I'm sure you've heard this story before, being a B.com listener
This symphony also marked a shift in the symphonic form. Sans the typical lengthy introduction that slowly builds up to the main theme, Beethoven simply has the orchestra strike 2 sudden chords and then the main theme begins. This symphony, some say, marked the birth of the Romantic era, as it broke the mold of Mozart and Haydn with its large scope and high emotional impact... the first grand symphony, and a precursor of what was to come from Beethoven.
Personally, I think this symphony contains the most genius passage Beethoven ever wrote, a 2 minute section occuring during the second movement starting at m114 (about the 8'00" minute mark) and ending with m154 (about the 10'15" mark). With a very hauntingly beautiful melody, he unleashes a titanic amount of emotion using superb harmonies and other worldly orchestration. This, IMHO, is perfection. It will grab you and fill you with joy, sorrow, happiness, and dread- all at once- and then release you gently with dark, descrendoed chords that take you back to the movements opening theme.
Of course, this symphony is filled with genius- it is, afterall, Beethoven. Listen and enjoy.
And the opera I am to see, sir? (I will try to find a video if possible)