List of important operas

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This list provides a guide to the most important operas, as determined by their presence on a majority of compiled lists of significant operas: see the "Lists Consulted" section for full details. The operas listed cover all important genres, and include all operas regularly performed today, from seventeenth-century works by Monteverdi, Cavalli, and Purcell to late twentieth-century operas by Messiaen, Berio, Glass, Adams, Birtwistle, and Weir. The brief accompanying notes offer an explanation as to why each opera has been considered important. For an introduction to operatic history, see Opera. The organisation of the list is by year of first performance, or, if this was long after the composer's death, approximate date of composition.

1600–1699[edit]

Portrait of Claudio Monteverdi holding the mask of tragedy, painting by Domenico Fetti, 1640.

1700–1749[edit]

George Frideric Handel. Painting by Balthasar Denner, 1733.

1750–1799[edit]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart aged 21 in 1777.

1800–1832[edit]

A portrait of Rossini

1833–1849[edit]

Gaetano Donizetti

1850–1875[edit]

Richard Wagner

1876–1899[edit]

Giuseppe Verdi, the celebrated portrait by Giovanni Boldini, 1886 (National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome).

1900–1920[edit]

1921–1944[edit]

Giacomo Puccini

From 1945[edit]

Igor Stravinsky

Significant firsts in opera history[edit]

Operas not included in the above list, but which were important milestones in operatic history.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ John Whenham, writing in Grove
  2. ^ a b c d Ellen Rosand, writing in Grove
  3. ^ Viking p.191
  4. ^ Martha Novak Clinkscale, writing in Grove
  5. ^ a b Curtis Price, writing in Grove
  6. ^ Viking p.418: According to John Mainwaring, Handel's first biographer, 'The theatre at almost every pause resounded with shouts of "Viva il caro Sassone". They were thunderstruck by the sublimity of his style: for never had they known till then all the powers of harmony and modulation so closely arrayed and forcibly combined'".
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Anthony Hicks, writing in Grove
  8. ^ Robert D. Hume, writing in Grove
  9. ^ a b Orrey p.64
  10. ^ Orrey pp.90–91
  11. ^ a b c d Graham Sadler, writing in Grove
  12. ^ Stanley Sadie, writing in Grove
  13. ^ Mary Hunter, writing in Grove
  14. ^ Viking pp.375–6
  15. ^ Viking pp.378–9
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Julian Rushton, writing in Grove
  17. ^ Viking p.381
  18. ^ Caryl Clark, writing in Grove
  19. ^ Viking p.393
  20. ^ Viking p.370
  21. ^ Orrey p.110
  22. ^ Orrey p. 113
  23. ^ Viking p.752
  24. ^ Orrey p.107
  25. ^ Orrey p.113
  26. ^ Orrey p.114
  27. ^ Gordana Lazarevich, writing in Grove
  28. ^ Viking pp.210–211
  29. ^ Viking p.59
  30. ^ Viking p.1002-1004
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Richard Osborne, writing in Grove
  32. ^ Viking p.1212-14
  33. ^ Viking p.1214-15
  34. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.136
  35. ^ Clive Brown, writing in Grove
  36. ^ a b Simon Maguire, writing in Grove
  37. ^ A. Dean Palmer, writing in Grove
  38. ^ Viking p.884; pp.917–18
  39. ^ a b William Ashbrook, writing in Grove
  40. ^ Viking p.38
  41. ^ Viking p.66
  42. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Julian Budden, writing in Grove
  43. ^ Orrey p.132
  44. ^ Viking p.659-60
  45. ^ Viking p.70
  46. ^ Viking p.609
  47. ^ Viking p.277
  48. ^ Viking p.278
  49. ^ Viking p.1176
  50. ^ Viking p.71
  51. ^ Viking p.412
  52. ^ Viking p.280
  53. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.246 ff.
  54. ^ Viking pp. 660
  55. ^ Viking p.282
  56. ^ Viking p.92
  57. ^ a b Viking p.1125
  58. ^ a b Viking p.285
  59. ^ Viking p.584
  60. ^ a b c d Roger Parker, writing in Grove
  61. ^ Viking p.1177
  62. ^ Viking p.368
  63. ^ Viking p.1179
  64. ^ Viking p.288
  65. ^ Viking p.1127
  66. ^ Viking p.48
  67. ^ Viking p.1128
  68. ^ Viking p.1181
  69. ^ a b Viking p.1132
  70. ^ a b Viking p.94
  71. ^ Viking p.328
  72. ^ Viking p.726
  73. ^ Viking p.661
  74. ^ Viking p.1138
  75. ^ Viking p.968
  76. ^ Viking p.1184-86
  77. ^ Viking p.1139
  78. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.192
  79. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.193
  80. ^ Viking p.1143
  81. ^ Viking p.1144
  82. ^ Viking p.228
  83. ^ Viking p.735
  84. ^ Penguin Guide to Opera on CD p.114
  85. ^ Viking p.1147
  86. ^ Viking p.97
  87. ^ Viking p.1149
  88. ^ Viking p.115
  89. ^ Viking p.736
  90. ^ Viking p.397
  91. ^ Viking p.664
  92. ^ Viking p.1196
  93. ^ Viking p.1098
  94. ^ Viking p.988
  95. ^ Viking p.1152
  96. ^ Viking p.116
  97. ^ Viking p.398
  98. ^ Viking p.990
  99. ^ Viking p.1198
  100. ^ Viking p.1099
  101. ^ a b Viking p.738
  102. ^ Viking p.131
  103. ^ Viking p.1188
  104. ^ Viking p.1190
  105. ^ Viking p.718
  106. ^ Viking p.1020
  107. ^ Viking p.992
  108. ^ Viking p.118
  109. ^ Viking p.1191
  110. ^ Viking p.1192
  111. ^ Penguin Guide to Opera on Compact Discs p.53
  112. ^ Hugh Macdonald, writing in Grove
  113. ^ Viking p.1087
  114. ^ Viking p.624
  115. ^ Viking p.1201
  116. ^ Viking p.866
  117. ^ Viking p.252
  118. ^ Viking p.807
  119. ^ Viking p.625
  120. ^ Viking p.1022
  121. ^ Viking p.720
  122. ^ Penguin Guide to Opera on Compact Discs p.54
  123. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.164-5
  124. ^ Viking p.618
  125. ^ Viking p.134
  126. ^ a b c Richard Taruskin, writing in Grove
  127. ^ Peter Ross, writing in Grove
  128. ^ Viking p.1094
  129. ^ Michele Girardi, writing in Grove
  130. ^ Viking p.564
  131. ^ a b c Rodney Milnes, writing in Grove
  132. ^ Ian Denley, in The New Grove
  133. ^ Jan Smaczny, writing in Grove
  134. ^ Viking p.203
  135. ^ a b Oxford Illustrated p.269
  136. ^ Oxford Illustrated pp.281–7
  137. ^ Viking p.728
  138. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.304
  139. ^ Viking p.559
  140. ^ Viking p.1026
  141. ^ Viking p.729
  142. ^ Viking p.256
  143. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.285
  144. ^ Viking p.871
  145. ^ Viking p.502
  146. ^ Viking p.1028
  147. ^ Viking p.1241
  148. ^ Viking p.872
  149. ^ Viking p.635
  150. ^ Viking p.1029
  151. ^ Viking p.849
  152. ^ Viking p.1031
  153. ^ Peter Franklin, writing in Grove
  154. ^ Viking p.314
  155. ^ Viking p.137
  156. ^ Viking p.1045
  157. ^ Viking p.485
  158. ^ Viking p.168
  159. ^ Viking p.1251
  160. ^ Viking p.773
  161. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.286-7
  162. ^ a b c David Murray, writing in Grove
  163. ^ Christopher Palmer, writing in Grove
  164. ^ Viking p.505
  165. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.306
  166. ^ Viking p.1252
  167. ^ Viking p.953
  168. ^ a b Michael Kennedy, writing in Grove
  169. ^ Viking p.506
  170. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.297
  171. ^ Roger Nichols, writing in Grove
  172. ^ Orrey p.218
  173. ^ Viking p.477
  174. ^ Tibor Tallián, writing in Grove
  175. ^ Viking p.1076
  176. ^ a b John Tyrrell, writing in Grove
  177. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.310-11
  178. ^ Viking p.542
  179. ^ a b Stephen Hinton, writing in Grove
  180. ^ Viking p.980
  181. ^ Orrey p.220
  182. ^ Laurel E. Fay, writing in Grove
  183. ^ Viking p.1039
  184. ^ Richard Crawford, writing in Grove
  185. ^ Orrey p.219
  186. ^ Viking p.1120
  187. ^ Viking p.1041
  188. ^ Viking p.613
  189. ^ Viking p.480
  190. ^ Viking p.143
  191. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.316
  192. ^ Viking p.1115
  193. ^ Viking p.144
  194. ^ Viking p.803
  195. ^ Viking p.802
  196. ^ a b c Bruce Archibald, writing in Grove
  197. ^ a b c d e f Arnold Whittal, writing in Grove
  198. ^ Viking p.307
  199. ^ Viking p.793
  200. ^ Anthony Sellors, writing in Grove
  201. ^ Viking p.649
  202. ^ Viking p.1050
  203. ^ Viking p.462
  204. ^ Viking ref.152
  205. ^ Viking p.1208
  206. ^ a b c Geraint Lewis, writing in Grove
  207. ^ Jon Alan Conrad, writing in Grove
  208. ^ Viking p.794
  209. ^ a b Barbara B. Heyman, writing in Grove
  210. ^ Viking p.795
  211. ^ a b c d e f g h Andrew Clements, writing in Grove
  212. ^ a b Orrey, p.234
  213. ^ a b Adrian Thomas, writing in Grove
  214. ^ Viking p.159
  215. ^ Viking p.243
  216. ^ a b Paul Griffiths, writing in Grove
  217. ^ Viking p.854
  218. ^ David Osmond-Smith, writing in Grove
  219. ^ Tim Page, writing in Grove
  220. ^ Viking p.108
  221. ^ Viking p.1232
  222. ^ Viking p.18
  223. ^ a b Oxford Illustrated p.8
  224. ^ Viking p.174
  225. ^ Oxford Illustrated p.31
  226. ^ Viking p.180
  227. ^ Stein (1999), paragraph six
  228. ^ Russell: "Manuel de Zumaya", Grove Music Online

References[edit]

Lists consulted[edit]

This list was compiled by consulting nine lists of great operas, created by recognized authorities in the field of opera, and selecting all of the operas which appeared on at least five of these (i.e. all operas on a majority of the lists). The lists used were:

  1. "A-Z of Opera by Keith Anderson, Naxos, 2000". 
  2. "The Standard Repertoire of Grand Opera 1607–1969", a list included in Norman Davies's Europe: a History (OUP, 1996; paperback edition Pimlico, 1997). ISBN 0-7126-6633-8.
  3. Operas appearing in the chronology by Mary Ann Smart in The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera (OUP, 1994). ISBN 0-19-816282-0.
  4. Operas with entries in The New Kobbe's Opera Book, ed. Lord Harewood (Putnam, 9th ed., 1997). ISBN 0-370-10020-4
  5. "Table of Contents of The Rough Guide to Opera".  by Matthew Boyden. (2002 edition). ISBN 1-85828-749-9.
  6. Operas with entries in The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera ed. Paul Gruber (Thames and Hudson, 1993). ISBN 0-393-03444-5 and/or Metropolitan Opera Stories of the Great Operas ed. John W Freeman (Norton, 1984). ISBN 0-393-01888-1
  7. List of operas and their composers in Who's Who in British Opera ed. Nicky Adam (Scolar Press, 1993). ISBN 0-85967-894-6
  8. Entries for individual operas in Warrack, John, and Ewan West (1992). The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869164-5. 
  9. Entries for individual operas in Who's Who in Opera: a guide to opera characters by Joyce Bourne (Oxford University Press, 1998). ISBN 0-19-210023-8

Note:

Other references[edit]