Best Operas of All Time – Chronological

I collected over 18 lists of the best operas of all time from the Internet and books and combined them into one list.  The results are below, arranged in chronological order.  This list includes every opera on at least two of the original source lists – the number of lists is given next to the name of the opera.  For each opera I have included the title, including translation if necessary, composer, date and location of the opera’s initial performance and the language and author of the libretto.  Where possible, I have also provided a description of the style or genre of the opera and recommendations for best recordings and videos.  For the same list arranged by ranking, with the highest rated operas on top, go HERE. For a list organized by composer, go HERE.

BAROQUE: 1600-1750

L’ORFEO (ORPHEUS) (11 lists)
Composer: Claudio Monteverdi
Premiere: Feb. 24, 1607. Mantua, Italy.
Italian libretto by Alessandro Striggio
Style: Favola in musica; pastoral opera
Recommended Recording: Bostridge, Ciofi, Coote, Dessay, Le Concert d’Astree, Haïm (2003)

L’INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA
(THE CORONATION OF POPPAEA) (9 lists)
Composer: Claudio Monteverdi
Premiere: 1642-1643. Venice, Italy.
Italian libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello
Recommended Recording: Donath, Söderström, Berberian, Esswood, Vienna Concentus Musicus, Harnoncourt (1974)

DIDO AND AENEAS (10 lists)
Composer: Henry Purcell
Premiere: July, 1688. London, England.
English libretto by Nahum Tate
Style: English Baroque opera
Recommended Recording: von Otter, Varcoe, Dawson, English Concert Chorus, Pinnock (1988)

RINALDO (2 lists)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Premiere: Feb. 24, 1711. London, England.
Italian libretto by Giacomo Rossi.
Recommended Recording: Orgonášová, Bartoli, Fink, Academy of Ancient Music, Hogwood (1999)

ACIS AND GALATEA (2 lists)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Premiere: Summer, 1718. Little Stanmore, England.
English libretto by John Gay
Style: Pastoral opera

GIULIO CESARE IN EGITTO (JULIUS CAESAR IN EGYPT) (6 lists)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Premiere: Feb. 20, 1724. London, England.
Italian libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym
Style: Opera seria, drama per musica
Recommended Recording: Lamore, Schlick, Fink, Rorholm, Concerto Köln, Jacobs (2002)

RODELINDA (2 lists)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Premiere: Feb. 13, 1725. London, England
Italian libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym
Style: Opera seria

ORLANDO (4 lists)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Premiere: Jan. 27, 1733. London, England.
Italian libretto by George Frideric Handel
Style: Opera seria
Recommended Recording: Joshua, Mannion, Bardon, Summers, Les Arts Florissants, Christie (1996)

LA SERVA PADRONA 
(THE SERVANT TURNED MISTRESS) (6 lists)
Composer: Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Premiere: Sept. 5, 1733. Naples, Italy.
Italian libretto by Gennaro Antonio Federico
Style: Intermezzo, opéra comique
Recommended Recording: Marshall, Valentini-Terrani, London Symphony Orchestra, Abbado (1985)

HIPPOLYTE ET ARICIE (3 lists)
Composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau
Premiere: Oct. 1, 1733. Paris, France.
French libretto by Abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin
Style: Tragédie en musique

ARIODANTE
(2 lists)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Premiere: Jan. 8, 1735. London, England.
Italian libretto by an unknown artist.
Style: Opera seria

ALCINA (5 lists)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Premiere: April 13, 1735. London, England
Italian libretto by Riccardo Broschi
Style: Opera seria.

LES INDES GALANTES 
(THE GALLANT INDIES) (5 lists)
Composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau
Premiere: Aug. 23, 1735. Paris, France.
French libretto by Louis Fuzelier
Style: Opéra-ballet

CASTOR ET POLLUX (3 lists)
Composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau
Premiere: Oct. 24, 1737. Paris, France.
French libretto by Pierre-Joseph-Justin Bernard
Style: Tragédie en musique, tragédie lyrique
Recommended Recording: Schele, Scovotti, Leanderson, Souzay, Vienna Concentus Musicus, Harnoncourt (1972)

SERSE (XERXES) (3 lists)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Premiere: April 15, 1738. London, England.
Italian libretto by an unknown author.
Style: Opera seria

SEMELE
(2 lists)
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Premiere: Feb. 10, 1744. London, England.
English libretto by William Congreve.

CLASSICAL (1750-1810)

LA BUONA FIGLIUOLA
 (THE GOOD-NATURED GIRL) (2 lists)
Composer: Niccolò Piccinni
Premiere: Feb. 6, 1760. Rome, Italy.
Italian libretto by Carlo Goldoni
Style: Opera buffa.

ORFEO ED EURIDICE (ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE) (10 lists)
Composer: Christoph Willibald Gluck
Premiere: Oct. 5, 1762. Vienna, Austria.
Italian libretto by Ranieri de’ Calzabigi
Style: Azioni teatrali, opera seria
Recommended Recording: Moffo, Raskin, Verrett, Collegium Musicum Italicum Instrumental Ensemble, Rome Virtuosi, Fasano (1965)

ALCESTE (3 lists)
Composer: Christoph Wilibald Gluck
Premiere: Dec. 26, 1767. Vienna, Austria.
Italian libretto by Ranieri de’ Calzabigi
Style: Opera seria
Recommended Video: von Otter, Groves, Beuron, Tezier, English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner. Directed by Brian Large (1999).

IPHIGÉNIE EN TAURIDE (IPHIGENIA IN TAURIS) (5 lists)
Composer: Christoph Wilibald Gluck
Premiere: May 18, 1779. Paris, France.
French libretto by Nicolas-François Guillard.
Style: Tragédie en musique
Recommended Recording: Montague, Aler, Allen, Argenta, Monteverdi Choir, Lyon Opera Orchestra, Gardiner (1985)

IDOMENEO
(7 lists)
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Premiere: Jan. 29, 1781, Munich, Germany.
Italian libretto by Giambattista Varesco
Style: Dramma per musica; opera seria
Recommended Recording: Milne, Frittoli, Hunt Lieberson, Bostridge, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mackerras (2001)

DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL
 (THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO) (7 lists)
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Premiere: July 16, 1782. Vienna, Austria.
German libretto by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner with adaptations by Gottlieb Stephanie
Style: Singspiel
Recommended Video: Eva Mei, Patrizia Ciofi, Rainer Trost, Kurt Rydl.  Directed by George Blume (2002).

IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (THE BARBER OF SEVILLE) (4 lists)
Composer: Giovanni Paisiello
Premiere: Sept. 26, 1782. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Italian libretto by Giuseppe Petrosellini

LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO) (18 lists)
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Premiere: May 1, 1786. Vienna, Austria.
Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Style: Opera buffa
Recommended Recording: Te Kanawa, Popp, von Stade, Allen, Ramey, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Solti (1981)
Recommended Video: Hermann Prey, Mirella Freni, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Kiri Te Kanawa. Directed by Jean-Pierre Ponelle (1978)

DON GIOVANNI (DON JUAN) (16 lists)
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Premiere: Oct. 29, 1787. Prague, Czech State.
Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Style: Dramma giocoso, opera buffa
Recommended Recording: Siepi, Danco, della Casa, Gueden, Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Krips (1955)
Recommended Video: Ruggero Raimondi, John Macurdy, Edda Moser, Kiri Te Kanawa. Directed by Joseph Losey (1979)

COSÌ FAN TUTTE (THUS DO THEY ALL) (10 lists)
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Premiere: Jan. 26, 1790. Vienna, Austria.
Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Style: Opera buffa
Recommended Recording: Janowitz, Fassbaender, Grist, Schreier, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra & State Opera Chorus, Böhm (1974)

LA CLEMENZA DI TITO
 (TITUS’ CLEMENCY) (2 lists)
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Premiere: Sept. 6, 1791. Prague, Czech State.
Italian libretto by Caterino Mazzolà.

DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE (THE MAGIC FLUTE) (17 lists)
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Premiere: Sept. 30, 1791. Vienna, Austria.
German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
Style: Zauberoper; singspiel
Recommended Recording: Lear, Peters, Wunderlich, Fischer-Dieskau, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Böhm (1964)
Recommended Video: Ulrik Cold, Josef Köstlinger, Irma Urrila, Håkan Hagegård. Directed by Ingmar Bergman (1975)

IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO (THE SECRET MARRIAGE) (3 lists)
Composer: Domenico Cimarosa
Premiere: Feb. 7, 1792. Vienna, Austria.
Italian libretto by Giovanni Bertati.
Style: Opera buffa
Recommended Recording: Patterson, Williams, Banditelli, Eastern Netherlands Orchestra, Bellini (1991)

MÉDÉE (MEDEA) (3 lists)
Composer: Luigi Cherubini
Premiere: March 13, 1797. Paris, France.
French libretto by François-Benoît Hoffmann
Style: Opéra comique
Recommended Recording: Callas, Scotto, Pirazzini, La Scala Orchestra & Chorus, Serafin (1957) (Italian translation)

FIDELIO
(11 lists)
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Premiere: Nov. 20, 1805. Vienna, Austria.
German libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner
Style: Rescue opera
Recommended Recording: Norman, Coburn, Goldberg, Staatskapelle & Chorus, Haitink (1989)

EARLY ROMANTIC (1810-1840)

L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI
 (THE ITALIAN GIRL IN ALGIERS) (2 lists)
Composer: Gioachino Rossini.
Premiere: May 22, 1813.  Venice, Italy.
Italian libretto by Angelo Anelli.
Style: Dramma giocoso.

IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (THE BARBER OF SEVILLE) (18 lists)
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Premiere: Feb. 20, 1816. Rome, Italy.
Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini
Style: Opera buffa, bel canto
Recommended Recording: Callas, Alva, Gobbi, Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus, Galliera (1956)
Recommended Video: Hermann Prey, Teresa Berganza. Directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1974)

LA CENERENTOLA
 (CINDERELLA) (6 lists)
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Premiere: Jan. 25, 1817. Rome, Italy.
Italian libretto by Jacopo Ferreti
Style: Dramma giocoso, bel canto
Recommended Recording: Berganza, Alva, Capecchi, Montarsolo, Scottish Opera Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, Abbado (1971)

DER FREISCHÜTZ
  (THE MARKSMAN) (5 lists)
Composer: Carl Maria von Weber
Premiere: June 18, 1821. Berlin, Germany.
German libretto by Friedrich Kind
Style: Romantische Oper
Recommended Recording: Seefried, Holm, Wächter, Bavarian State Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Jochum (1959)

SEMIRAMIDE (4 lists)
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Premiere: Feb. 3, 1823. Venice, Italy
Italian libretto by Gaetano Rossi
Style: Opera seria, bel canto

LE COMTE ORY 
(THE COUNT OF ORY) (2 lists)
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Premiere: Aug. 20, 1828. Paris, France.
French libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson.
Style: Opera buffa.

GUILLAUME TELL
(WILLIAM TELL) (5 lists)
Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Premiere: Aug. 3, 1829. Paris, France.
French libretto by Étienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Bis
Style: Grand opera, bel canto
Recommended Recording: Milnes, Freni, Pavarotti, Ghiaurov, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Chailly (1978-1979) (Italian translation)

FRA DIAVOLO (BROTHER DEVIL) (3 lists)
Composer: Daniel Auber
Premiere: Jan. 28, 1830. Paris, France.
French libretto by Eugène Scribe
Style: Opéra comique
Recommended Recording: Mesplé, BerbiéGedda, Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra & Jean Laforge Ensemble Choir, Soustrot (1984)

LA SONNAMBULA (THE SLEEPWALKER) (3 lists)
Composer: Vincenzo Bellini
Premiere: March 6, 1831. Milan, Italy.
Italian libretto by Felice Romani.
Style: Opera semiseria, bel canto
Recommended Recording: Sutherland, Pavarotti, Ghiaurov, London Opera Chorus; National Philharmonic Orchestra, Bonynge (1980)

NORMA (11 lists)
Composer: Vincenzo Bellini
Premiere: Dec. 26, 1831. Milan, Italy (La Scala).
Italian libretto by Felice Romani
Style: Bel canto
Recommended Recording: Callas, Ludwig, Corelli, Zaccaria, La Scala Orchestra & Chorus, Serafin (1954)

L’ELISIR D’AMORE 
(THE ELIXIR OF LOVE) (8 lists)
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Premiere: May 12, 1832. Milan, Italy.
Italian libretto by Felice Romani
Style: Opera buffa, bel canto
Recommended Recording: Sutherland, Pavarotti, Cossa, Ambrosian Singers, English Chamber Orchestra, Bonynge (1972).

HANS HEILING (2 lists)
Composer: Heinrich Marschner.
Premiere: May 24, 1833. Berlin, Germany.
German libretto by Eduard Devrient
Style: Romantische.

I PURITANI (THE PURITANS) (4 lists)
Composer: Vincenzo Bellini
Premiere: Jan. 24, 1835. Paris, France.
Italian libretto by Carlo Pepoli
Style: Bel canto
Recommended Recording: Sutherland, Pavarotti, Ghiaurov, Cappuccilli, Royal Opera House Chorus; London Symphony Orchestra, Bonynge (1973)

LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR (12 lists)
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Premiere: Sept. 26, 1835. Naples, Italy.
Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammerano
Style: Dramma tragico, bel canto
Recommended Recording: Sutherland, Pavarotti, Milnes, Royal Opera House Orchestra, Bonynge (1971)

LES HUGUENOTS
(7 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Meyerbeer
Premiere: Feb. 29, 1836. Paris, France.
French libretto by Eugène Scribe and Émile Deschamps
Style: Grand opéra
Recommended Recording: Sutherland, Arroyo, Tourangeau, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, New Philharmonia, Bonynge (1969)

A LIFE FOR THE TSAR (2 lists)
Composer: Mikhail Glinka.
Premiere: Nov. 27, 1836. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian libretto by Nestor Kukolnik, Baron Yegor Fyodorovich Rozen, Vladimir Sollogub and Vasily Zhukovsky.
Recommended Recording: Martinovich, Pendachanska, Toczyska, Sofia Festival Orchestra, Tchakarov (1989)

BENVENUTO CELLINI (3 lists)
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Premiere: Sept. 10, 1838. Paris, France.
French libretto by Léon de Wailly and Henri Auguste Barbier
Style: Opera semiseria
Recommended Recording: Gedda, Eda-Pierre, Bastin, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Davis (1973)

LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT (THE DAUGHTER OF THE REGIMENT) (3 lists)
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Premiere: Feb. 11, 1840. Paris, France.
French libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard.
Style: Opéra comique, bel canto
Recommended recording: Sutherland, Pavarotti, Sinclair, Royal Opera House Orchestra & Chorus, Bonynge  (1971).

MIDDLE ROMANTIC ERA (1840-1880)

NABUCCO (NEBUCHADNEZZAR) (5 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: March 9, 1842. Milan, Italy (La Scala)
Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera

RUSLAN AND LYUDMILA (5 lists)
Composer: Mikhail Glinka
Premiere: Nov. 27, 1842. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian libretto by Valerian Shirkov, Nestor Kukolnik and N. A. Markevich.
Recommended Recording: Rudenko, Nestorenko, Maslennikov; Bolshoi Theatre, Simonov (1979)

DON PASQUALE
(6 lists)
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Premiere: Jan. 3, 1843. Paris, France.
Italian libretto by Giovanni Ruffini and Gaetano Donizetti
Style: Opera buffa, bel canto
Recommended Recording: Hendricks, Canonici, Quilico, Bacquier, Opera de Lyon, Ferro (1990)

DIE FLIEGENDE
HOLLÄNDER (THE FLYING DUTCHMAN) (9 lists)
Composer: Richard Wagner
Premiere: January, 1843. Dresden, Germany.
German libretto by Richard Wagner
Style: Romantische Oper
Recommended Recording: Hale, Rydl, Behrens, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra & State Opera Chorus, Dohnányi (1991)

MARTHA (2 lists)
Composer: Friedrich von Flotow
Premiere: Feb. 21, 1844. Paris, France.
German libretto by Friedrich Wilhelm Riese
Style: Romantic comic opera

ERNANI (HERNANI) (3 lists)
Composer: Guiseppe Verdi
Premiere: March 9, 1844. Venice, Italy.
Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.
Style: Dramma lirico

TANNHÄUSER (11 lists)
Composer: Richard Wagner
Premiere: Oct. 19, 1845. Dresden, Germany.
German libretto by Richard Wagner
Style: Romantische Oper
Recommended Recording: Dernesch, Ludwig, Kollo, Braun, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra & State Opera Chorus, Solti (1962) (1861 Paris version).

LA DAMNATION DE FAUST
(THE DAMNATION OF FAUST) (5 lists)
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Premiere: Dec. 6, 1846. Paris, France.
French libretto by Hector Berlioz
Style: Concert opera
Recommended Recording: Veasey, Gedda, Bastin, Ambrosian Singers, London Symphony Orchestra, Davis (1973)

MACBETH (6 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: March 14, 1847. Florence, Italy
Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and Andrea Maffei
Recommended Recording: Milnes, Cossoto, Raimondi, Carreras, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, New Philharmonia, Muti (1976)

DIE LUSTIGEN WEIBER VON WINDSOR
(THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR) (2 lists)
Composer: Otto Nicolai
Premiere: March 9, 1849. Berlin, Germany.
German libretto by Salomon Hermann Mosenthal
Style: Spieloper; singspiel
Recommended Recording: Mathis, Wunderlich, Frick, Bavarian State Opera Orchestra & Chorus; Heger (1963)

LE PROPHÈTE (THE PROPHET) (2 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Meyerbeer
Premiere: April 16, 1849. Paris, France.
French libretto by Eugène Scribe
Style: Grand opera

LOHENGRIN (11 lists)
Composer: Richard Wagner
Premiere: Aug. 28, 1850. Weimar, Germany.
German libretto by Richard Wagner
Style: Romantische Oper
Recommended Recording: Norman, Randová, Domingo, Fischer-Dieskau, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra & State Opera Chorus, Solti (1986)
Recommended Video: Eva Marton, Leonie Rysanek, Leif Roar, Peter Hofmann. Directed by Brian Large (1986)

RIGOLETTO (15 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: March 11, 1851. Venice, Italy.
Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Style: Grand opera
Recommended Recording: Callas, di Stefano, Gobbi, La Scala Orchestra & Chorus, Serafin (1956)
Recommended Video: Gianni Raimondi, Rolando Panerai, Gianni Maffeo. Directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1982)

IL TROVATORE (THE TROUBADOR) (12 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: Jan. 19, 1853. Rome, Italy.
Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammerano
Recommended Recording: Price, Cossotto, Domingo, Milnes, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Mehta (1969)

LA TRAVIATA (THE FALLEN WOMAN) (17 lists)
Composer: Guiseppe Verdi
Premiere: March 6, 1853. Venice, Italy.
Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Style: Grand opera
Recommended Recording: Sutherland, Pavarotti, Manuguerra, National Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, Bonynge (1982)
Recommended Video: Plácido Domingo, Teresa Stratas. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli (1983)

LES VÊPRES SICILIENNES
 (THE SICILIAN VESPERS) (2 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi.
Premiere: June 13, 1855. Paris, France.
French libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier.
Style: Grand opera.

SIMON BOCCANEGRA
(7 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: March 12, 1857. Venice, Italy.
Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Recommended Recording: Cappuccilli, Freni, Carreras, Ghiaurov, La Scala Chorus & Orchestra, Abbado (1977)

ORPHEE AUX ENFERS (ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD) (4 lists)
Composer: Jacques Offenbach
Premiere: Oct. 21, 1858. Paris, France.
French libretto by Ludovic Halévy; revised by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux
Style: Opéra bouffe

UN BALLO IN MASCHERA (THE MASKED BALL) (4 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: Feb. 17, 1859. Rome, Italy.
Italian libretto by Antonio Somma.
Recommended recording: Price, Pavarotti, Bruson, Gruberova, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Solti (1982)

FAUST (9 lists)
Composer: Charles Gounod
Premiere: March 19, 1859. Paris, France.
French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
Style: Grand opera
Recommended Recording: Sutherland, Corelli, Ghiaurov, London Symphony Orchestra, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Bonynge (1966)

BÉATRICE ET BÉNÉDICT (2 lists)
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Premiere: Aug. 9, 1862. Baden-Baden, Germany.
French libretto by Hector Berlioz
Style: Opéra comique
Recommended Recording: Veasey, Watts, Mitchinson, London Symphony Orchestra, Davis (1996)

LA FORZA DEL DESTINO (THE POWER OF FATE) (6 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: Nov. 22, 1862. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Recommended Recording: Price, Domingo, Milnes; London Symphony Orchestra, Levine (1976)

LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES (THE PEARL FISHERS) (3 lists)
Composer: Georges Bizet
Premiere: Sept. 30, 1863. Paris, France.
French libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré

LES TROYENS (THE TROJANS) (9 lists)
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Partial premiere: Nov. 4, 1863. Paris, France.
Full premiere: Dec. 6-7, 1890. Karlsruhe, Germany.
French libretto by Hector Berlioz
Style: Grand opera
Recommended Recording: Veasey, Vickers, Lindholm, Royal Opera House Orchestra & Chorus, Davis (1969)

LA BELLE HÉLÈNE
 (FAIR HELEN) (2 lists)
Composer: Jacques Offenbach.
Premiere: Dec. 17, 1864.  Paris, France.
French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.
Style: Opéra bouffe; operette

L’AFRICAINE (THE AFRICAN WOMAN) (2 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Meyerbeer
Premiere: April 28, 1865. Paris, France.
French libretto by Eugène Scribe
Style: Grand opera

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE (13 lists)
Composer: Richard Wagner
Premiere: June 10, 1865. Munich, Germany.
German libretto by Richard Wagner
Style: Music drama
Recommended Recording: Nilsson, Ludwig, Windgassen, Talvela, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus, Böhm (1966).
Recommended Video: Nina Stemme, Robert Gambill. Directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff (2007).

PRODANÁ NEVESTA
(THE BARTERED BRIDE) (6 lists)
Composer: Bedřich Smetana
Premiere: May 30, 1866. Prague, Czech State.
Czech libretto by Karel Sabina
Style: Comic opera
Recommended Recording: Dvorský, Beňačková, Novak, Czeck Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, Košler (1982)
Recommended Video: Peter Dvorský, Gabriela Beňačková. Directed by Frantisek Filip (1981).

DON CARLOS (12 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: March 11, 1867. Paris, France.
French libretto by Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle
Style: Grand opera
Recommended Recording: Domingo, Ricciarelli, La Scala Chorus & Orchestra, Abbado (1983-1984)

ROMÉO ET JULIETTE (4 lists)
Composer: Charles Gounod
Premiere: April 27, 1867. Paris, France.
French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré

MEFISTOFELE (MEPHISTOPHELES) (4 lists)
Composer: Arrigo Boito
Premiere: March 5, 1868. Milan, Italy (La Scala).
Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito.
Recommended Recording: Freni, Caballé, Pavarotti, Ghiaurov, National Philharmonic Orchestra, de Fabritiis (1982)

DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG (THE MASTER-SINGERS OF NUREMBERG) (15 lists)
Composer: Richard Wagner
Premiere: June 21, 1868. Munich, Germany.
German libretto by Richard Wagner
Style: Romantische, music drama
Recommended Recording: Schwarzkopf, Malaniuk, Hopf, Edelmann, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus, von Karajan (1951)
Recommended Video: Bernd Weikl, Manfred Schenk, András Molnár. Directed by Brian Large (1984).

AIDA (13 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: Dec. 24, 1871. Cairo, Egypt.
Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni
Style: Opera ballo
Recommended Recording: Ricciarelli, Obraztsova, Domingo, La Scala Orchestra & Chorus, Abbado (1981)

BORIS GODUNOV (13 lists)
Composer: Modest Mussorgsky
Premiere: Jan. 27, 1874. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian libretto by Modest Mussorgsky
Recommended Recording: Lutsuk, Pluzhnikov, Putilin, Kirov Opera, Gergiev (1997) (1869 version)
Recommended Video: Alexander Pirogov, Nikandr Khanayev, Ivan Kozlovsky. Directed by Vera Stroyeva (1954).

DIE FLEDERMAUS (THE BAT) (5 lists)
Composer: Johann Strauss II
Premiere: April 5, 1874. Vienna, Austria.
German libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée
Style: Operette
Recommended Recording: Varady, Popp, Prey, Kollo, Weikl, Bavarian State Opera Chorus & Orchestra, Kleiber (1976)

CARMEN (19 lists)
Composer: Georges Bizet
Premiere: March 3, 1875. Paris, France
French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Style: Opéra comique
Recommended Recording: Bumbry, Freni, Vickers, Diaz, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, von Karajan (1967)
Recommended Video: Julia Migenes, Plácido Domingo. Directed by Francesco Rosi (1984)

LA GIOCONDA (4 lists)
Composer: Amilcare Ponchielli
Premiere: April 8, 1876. Milan, Italy (La Scala).
Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito
Style: Opera ballo; grand opera
Recommended Recording: Callas, Cossotto, Cappuccilli, La Scala Orchestra & Chorus, Votto (1959)

DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN  
(THE RING OF THE NIBELUNGEN) (16 lists)
Composer: Richard Wagner
Germany libretti by Richard Wagner
Style: Music dramas
Recommended Recording: Nilsson, Ludwig, Windgassen, Talvela, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus, Böhm (1966)
Recommended Video: Donald McIntyre Directed by Patrice Chéreau (1980) 

      1. Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold)
Premiere: Sept. 22, 1869. Munich, Germany.
      2. Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)
Premiere: June 26, 1870. Munich, Germany.
      3. Siegfried
Premiere: Aug. 16, 1876. Bayreuth, Germany.
      4. Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)
Premiere: Aug. 17, 1876. Bayreuth, Germany.

SAMSON AND DELILAH (5 lists)
Composer: Camille Saint-Saëns
Premiere: Dec. 2, 1877. Weimar, Germany
French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire.
Recommended Recording: Domingo, Obraztsova, Bruson, Lloyd, Paris Orchestra & Chorus, Barenboim (1978)

EUGENE ONEGIN (14 lists)
Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Premiere: March 29, 1879. Moscow, Russia.
Russian libretto by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Konstantin Shilovsky.
Style: Lyric opera
Recommended Recording: Freni, Schicoff, Allen, von Otter, Staatskapelle Dresden, Levine (rec. 1987; rel. 1990)
Recommended Video: Bernd Weikl, Michal Docolomanský, Teresa Kubiak. Directed by Petr Weigl (1988).

LATE ROMANTIC ERA (1881-1920)

LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN (THE TALES OF HOFFMANN) (6 lists)
Composer: Jacques Offenbach
Premiere: Feb. 10, 1881. Paris, France.
French libretto by Jules Barbier
Style: Opéra bouffe
Recommended Recording: Sutherland, Tourangeau, Domingo, Suisse Romande Orchestra, Bonynge (1971)
Recommended Video: Moira Shearer, Robert Helpman.  Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (1951).

PARSIFAL (12 lists)
Composer: Richard Wagner
Premiere: July 26, 1882. Bayreuth, Germany.
German libretto by Richard Wagner
Style: Music drama
Recommended Recording: Thomas, Hotter, Talvela, London, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Knappertsbusch (1962)
Recommended Video: Armin Jordan, Wolfgang Schöne, Martin Sperr.  Directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg (1982).

LAKMÉ (2 lists)
Composer: Léo Delibes
Premiere: April 14, 1883. Paris, France.
French libretto by Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille.
Style: Opéra comique
Recommended Recording: Sutherland, Vanzo, Bacquier, Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra, Bonynge (1967)

MANON
(8 lists)
Composer: Jules Massenet
Premiere: Jan. 19, 1884. Paris, France.
French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille
Style: Opéra comique
Recommended Recording: de los Angeles, Legay, Dens, Paris Opera-Comique Orchestra & Chorus, Monteux (1955)

KHOVANSHCHINA (THE KHOVANSKY AFFAIR) (5 lists)
Composer: Modest Mussorgsky
Premiere: Feb. 21, 1886
Russian libretto by Modest Mussorgsky.
Recommended Recording: Haugland, Atlantov; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Abbado (1989)

OTELLO (OTHELLO) (12 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: Feb. 5, 1887. Milan, Italy (La Scala).
Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito
Recommended Recording: Domingo, Scotto, Milnes, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Levine (1978).
Recommended Video: Plácido Domingo, Katia Ricciarelli, Justino Díaz. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli (1986).

CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA (RUSTIC CHIVALRY) (10 lists)
Composer: Pietro Mascagni
Premiere: May 17, 1890. Rome, Italy.
Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci
Style: Verismo
Recommended Recording: Varady, Pavarotti, Cappuccilli, National Philharmonia London Orchestra & Chorus, Gacazzeni (1976)
Recommended Video: Yelena Obraztsova, Plácido Domingo. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli (1982).

PRINCE IGOR (5 lists)
Composer: Alexander Borodin
Premiere: Nov. 4, 1890. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian libretto by Alexander Borodin
Recommended Recording: Martinovich, Ghiuselev, Ghiaurov, Sofia Festival Orchestra & National Opera Chorus, Tchakarov (1990)

PIQUE DAME
(THE QUEEN OF SPADES) (6 lists)
Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Premiere: Dec. 19, 1890. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky
Recommended Recording: Freni, Atlantov, Hvorostovsky, Forrester, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ozawa (1991)

WERTHER (5 lists)
Composer: Jules Massenet
Premiere: Feb. 16, 1892. Vienna, Austria.
French libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann
Style: Drame lyrique
Recommended Recording: Bergonzi, Casoni, Trimarchi, San Carlo Opera Orchestra & Chorus, De Fabritiis (1969)
Recommended Video: Brigitte Fassbinder, Peter Dvorsky. Directed by Peter Weigl (1985)

I PAGLIACCI 
(THE CLOWNS) (7 lists)
Composer: Ruggiero Leoncavallo
Premiere: May 21, 1892. Milan, Italy.
Italian libretto by Ruggiero Leoncavallo
Style: Verismo
Recommended Recording: Corelli, Amara, Gobbi, Zanasi, La Scala Orchestra & Chorus, Matačić (1960)
Recommended Video: Plácido Domingo, Teresa Stratas.  Directed by Franco Zeffirelli (1982).

MANON LESCAUT (6 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Premiere: Feb. 1, 1893. Turin, Italy.
Italian libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo, Marco Praga, Giuseppe Giacosa, Domenico Oliva and Luigi Illica
Style: Opéra comique
Recommended Recording: Freni, Pavarotti, Croft, Taddei, Bartoli, New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Levine (1993)

FALSTAFF (15 lists)
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Premiere: Feb. 9, 1893. Milan, Italy (La Scala)
Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito
Style: Commedia linica
Recommended Recording: Gobbi, Schwarzkopf, Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra, von Karajan (1956)

HÄNSEL UND GRETEL (HANSEL AND GRETEL) (3 lists)
Composer: Engelbert Humperdinck
Premiere: December 23, 1893. Weimar, Germany
German libretto by Adelheid Wette
Style: Märchenoper; children’s opera
Recommended Recording: Schwarzkopf, Grümmer, Felbmayer, Philharmonia Orchestra, Loughton High School Chorus, von Karajan (1953)

LA BOHÈME (THE BOHEMIAN LIFE) (16 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Premiere: Feb. 1, 1896. Turin, Italy.
Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Style: Verismo
Recommended Recording: Tebaldi, d’Angelo, Bergonzi, Bastianini, Santa Cecilia Academy Orchestra & Chorus, Serafin (1959)
Recommended Video: Mirella Freni, Adriana Martino, Gianni Raimondi. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli (1965)

ANDREA CHÉNIER (5 lists)
Composer: Umberto Giordano
Premiere: March 28, 1896. Milan, Italy (La Scala).
Italian libretto by Luigi Illica.
Style: Verismo
Recommended Recording: Caballé, Pavarotti, Nucci, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Chailly (1984)

TOSCA (15 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Premiere: Jan. 14, 1900. Rome, Italy.
Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Style: Verismo
Recommended Recording: Callas, Gobbi, La Scala Chorus & Orchestra, de Sabata (1953)
Recommended Video: Raina Kabaivanska, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes. Directed by Gianfranco De Bosio (1976).

LOUISE (2 lists)
Composer: Gustave Charpentier
Premiere: Feb. 2, 1900. Paris, France.
French libretto by Gustave Charpentier and Saint-Pol-Roux.
Style: Frence verismo
Recommended Recording: Cotrubas, Berbié, Domingo, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Ambrosia Opera Chorus, Prêtre (1976)

RUSALKA (4 lists)
Composer: Antonín Dvořák
Premiere: March 31, 1901. Prague, Czech State.
Czech libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil.
Style: Lyric opera

PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE (13 lists)
Composer: Claude Debussy
Premiere: April 30, 1902. Paris, France.
French libretto by Claude Debussy
Recommended Recording: Söderström, Minton, Shirley, Royal Opera House Orchestra & Chorus, Boulez (1970)

ADRIANA LECOUVREUR (3 lists)
Composer: Francesco Cilea
Premiere: Nov. 6, 1902. Milan, Italy.
Italian libretto by Arturo Colautti.
Style: Verismo

JENŮFA (10 lists)
Composer: Leoš Janáček
Premiere: Jan. 21, 1904. Brno, Czech State.
Czech libretto by Leoš Janáček
Recommended Recording: Popp, Söderström, Randová, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, Mackerras (1982)

MADAMA BUTTERFLY (17 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Premiere: Feb. 17, 1904. Milan, Italy (La Scala)
Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Style: Verismo
Recommended Recording: Tebaldi, Bergonzi, Cossotto, Santa Cecilia Academy Orchestra & Chorus, Serafin (1959)
Recommended Video: Teresa Stratas, Plácido Domingo, Cornell MacNeil, Allan Monk. Directed by Frédéric Mitterand (1995)

SALOME (12 lists)
Composer: Richard Strauss
Premiere: Dec. 9, 1905. Dresden, Germany.
German libretto by Richard Strauss
Style: Musikdrama
Recommended Recording: Nilsson, Hoffmann, Stolze, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Solti (1961)
Recommended Video: Teresa Stratas, Astrid Varnay. Directed by Götz Friedrich (1974).

DIE LUSTIGE WITWE (THE MERRY WIDOW) (7 lists)
Composer: Franz Lehár
Premiere: Dec. 30, 1905. Vienna, Austria.
German libretto by Viktor Léon and Leo Stein
Style: Operette
Recommended Recording: Schwarzkopf, Steffek, Gedda, Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus, Matačić (1962)

THE LEGEND OF THE INVISIBLE CITY OF KITEZH AND THE MAIDEN FEVRONIYA (3 lists)
Composer: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Premiere: Feb. 7, 1907. St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russian libretto by Vladimir Belsky.

A VILLAGE ROMEO AND JULIET (2 lists)
Composer: Frederick Delius
Premiere: Feb. 21, 1907. Berlin, Germany.
English libretto by Frederick and Jelka Delius.
Recommended Video: Dana Moravkova, Michel Dlouhy. Directed by Peter Weigl (1992)

ELEKTRA (10 lists)
Composer: Richard Strauss
Premiere: Jan. 25, 1909. Dresden, Germany.
German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Style: Music drama
Recommended Recording: Borkh, Madeira, Schech, Fischer-Dieskau, Dresden Staatskapelle, Böhm (1962)
Recommended Video: Leonie Rysanek, Astrid Varnay. Directed by Götz Friedrich (1981).

LE COQ D’OR (THE GOLDEN COCKEREL) (3 lists)
Composer: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Premiere: Oct. 7, 1909. Moscow, Russia.
Russian libretto by Vladimir Belsky.

DON QUICHOTTE (DON QUIXOTE)
Composer: Jules Massenet
Premiere: Feb. 19, 1910. Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Monaco
French libretto by Henri Caïn

LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST (THE GIRL OF THE WEST) (4 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Premiere: Dec. 10, 1910. New York, New York, U.S.
Italian libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini
Recommended Recording: Tebaldi, del Monaco, MacNeill, Santa Cecilia Academy Chorus & Orchestra, Capuana (1958)

DER ROSENKAVALIER (THE KNIGHT OF THE ROSE) (15 lists)
Composer: Richard Strauss
Premiere: Jan. 26, 1911. Dresden, Germany.
German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Harry von Kessler
Style: Comic opera
Recommended Recording: Schwarzkopf, Ludwig, Stich-Randall, Edelmann, Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus, von Karajan (1957)

L’HEURE ESPAGNOLE
 (THE SPANISH HOUR) (2 lists)
Composer: Maurice Ravel
Premiere: May 19, 1911. Paris, France.
Libretto by Franc-Nohain.
Style: Comédie musicale

ARIADNE AUF NAXOS (ARIADNE ON NAXOS) (5 lists)
Composer: Richard Strauss
Premiere: Oct. 25, 1912. Stuttgart, Germany
German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Recommended recording: Janowitz, King, Geszty, Zylis-Gara, Dresden State Opera, Kempe (1968)

PALESTRINA (3 lists)
Composer: Hans Pfitzner
Premiere: June 12, 1917. Munich, Germany.
German libretto by Hans Pfitzner.
Recommended Recording: Jurinac, Ludwig, Wunderlich, Vienna State Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Heger (1964)

BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE (7 lists)
Composer: Béla Bartók
Premiere: May 24, 1918. Budapest, Hungary.
Hungarian libretto by Béla Balázs
Recommended Recording: Ramey, Marton, Hungarian State Orchestra; Fischer (1987)

IL TRITTICO:
SUOR ANGELICA (THE TRIPTYCH: SISTER ANGELICA) (2 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Puccini.
Premiere: Dec. 14, 1918. New York, New York, US
Italian libretto by Giovacchino Forzano.

IL TRITTICO:
GIANNI SCHICCHI (THE TRIPTYCH: GIANNI SCHICCHI) (3 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Premiere: Dec. 14, 1918. New York, New York, US
Italian libretto by Giovacchino Forzano

DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN (THE WOMAN WITHOUT A SHADOW) (5 lists)
Composer: Richard Strauss
Premiere: Oct. 10, 1919. Vienna, Austria
German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

CONTEMPORARY (1921-Present)

DIE TOTE STADT (THE DEAD CITY) (2 lists)
Composer: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Premiere: Dec. 4, 1920. Hamburg & Cologne, Germany
German libretto by Erich and Julius Korngold.
Recommended Recording: Kollo, Neblett, Prey; Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leinsdorf (1975)

KÁT’A KABANOVÁ (6 lists)
Composer: Leoš Janáček
Premiere: Nov. 23, 1921. Brno, Czechoslovakia
Czech libretto by Vincenc Červinka
Recommended Recording: Söderström, Dvorsky, Kniplova, Krejcik, Vienna Philharmonic, Mackerras (1976)

THE LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES
(2 lists) 
Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
Premiere: Dec. 30, 1921. Chicago, Illinois, US
French libretto by Sergei Prokofiev
Style: Satirical opera.
Recommended Recording: Bacquier, Viala, Perraguin; Lyon Opera Chorus & Orchestra, Nagano (1989)

THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN
(6 lists)
Composer: Leoš Janáček
Premiere: Nov. 6, 1924. Brno, Czechoslovakia
Czech libretto by Leoš Janáček
Recommended Recording: Popp, Jedlička, Randová, Vienna Philharmonic, Mackerras (1981)

L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES (THE CHILD AND THE SPELLS) (5 lists)
Composer: Maurice Ravel
Premiere: March 21, 1925. Monte Carlo, Monaco.
French libretto by Colette.
Style: Children’s opera
Recommended Recording: Ogeas, Collard, Berbie, Gilma, French Radio National Orchestra & Chorus, Maazel (1960)

DOKTOR FAUST (DOCTOR FAUST) (4 lists)
Composer: Ferruccio Busoni. Finished by Philipp Jarnach.
Premiere: May 21, 1925. Dresden, Germany.
German libretto by Ferruccio Busoni.
Recommended Recording: Fischer-Dieskau, Cochran, de Ridder, Bavarian Radio Orchestra & Chorus, Leitner (1970)

WOZZECK (11 lists)
Composer: Alban Berg
Premiere: Dec. 14, 1925. Berlin, Germany.
German libretto by Alban Berg, based on Georg Büchner’s play
Style: Music drama
Recommended Recording: Silja, Winkler, Waechter, Laubenthal, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, Dohnányi (1979)

HÁRY JÁNOS (3 lists)
Composer: Zoltán Kodály
Premiere: 1926. Budapest, Hungary.
Hungarian libretto by Béla Paulini and Zsolt Harsányi
Style: Singspiel

TURANDOT (12 lists)
Composer: Giacomo Puccini. Completed by Franco Alfano
Premiere: April 25, 1926. Milan, Italy (La Scala).
Italian libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni
Recommended Recording: Nilsson, Corelli, Scotto, Mazzini, Rome Opera Chorus & Orchestra, Molinari-Pradelli (1965)

KING ROGER
(2 lists)
Composer: Karol Szymanowski.
Premiere: June 19, 1926. Warsaw, Poland.
Polish libretto by Karol Szymanowski and Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz .
Recommended Recording: Hiolski, Zagórzanka, Ochman, Grychnik, Polish State Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, Wit (1990)

THE MAKROPULOS AFFAIR (4 lists)
Composer: Leoš Janáček
Premiere: Dec. 18, 1926. Brno, Czechoslovakia.
Czech libretto by Leoš Janáček.
Recommended Recording: Söderström, Dvorsky, Krejcik, Zitek, Vienna Philharmonic, Mackerras (1978)

OEDIPUS REX (OEDIPUS THE KING)
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Premiere: May 30, 1927. Paris, France (as oratorio). Feb. 23, 1928. Vienna, Austria (as opera)
French libretto by Jean Cocteau; translated into Latin by Abbé Jean Daniélou
Style: Opera-oratorio

DIE DREIGROSCHENOPER
(THE THREEPENNY OPERA) (7 lists)
Composer: Kurt Weill
Premiere: Aug. 31, 1928. Berlin, Germany.
German libretto by Bertolt Brecht
Style: Ballad opera
Recommended Recording: Lenya, Neuss, Hesterberg, Trenk-Trebitsch, Southwest German Radio Orchestra & Chorus, Brückner-Rüggeberg (1958)

AUFSTIEG UND FALL DER STADT MAHAGONNY
(RISE AND FALL OF THE CITY OF MAHAGONNY) (4 lists)
Composer: Kurt Weill
Premiere: March 9, 1930. Leipzig, Germany
German libretto by Bertolt Brecht.

LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK DISTRICT (8 lists)
Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
Premiere: Jan. 24, 1934. Leningrad, USSR.
Russian libretto by Alexander Preis and Dmitri Shostakovich
Recommended Recording: Vishnevskaya, Gedda, Patkov, Krenn, Ambrosian Opera Choir, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Rostropovich (1978)
Recommended Video: Galina Vishnevskaya, Markéta Hrubesová. Directed by Peter Weigl (1992)

FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS (4 lists)
Composer: Virgil Thomson
Premiere: Feb. 7, 1934. Hartford, Connecticut, US
English libretto by Gertrude Stein.
Recommended Recording: Orchestra of Our Time; Thome (1981)

PORGY AND BESS (12 lists)
Composer: George Gershwin
Premiere: Sept. 30, 1935. Boston, Massachusetts, US
English libretto by DuBose Heyward
Style: Verismo
Recommended Recording: Haymon, Evans, Clarey, White, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndebourne Festival Chorus, Rattle (1988)
Recommended Video: Cynthia Haymon, Willar White. Directed by Trevor Nunn (1993).

LULU (5 lists)
Composer: Alban Berg
Premiere: 1937. Zurich, Switzerland.
German libretto by Alban Berg.
Recommended recording: Wise, Fassbaender, Schöne, Straka, Orchestre Nationale de France; Tate (1991)

MATHIS DER MALER (MATTHIAS THE PAINTER) (4 lists)
Composer: Paul Hindemith
Premiere: May 28, 1938. Zurich, Switzerland.
German libretto by Paul Hindemith.
Recommended Recording: Fischer-Dieskau, Schmidt, Wagemann, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Kubelik (1978)

CAPRICCIO 
(2 lists)
Composer: Richard Strauss.
Premiere: Oct. 28, 1942. Munich, Germany.
German libretto by Richard Strauss and Clemens Krauss.

PETER GRIMES (11 lists)
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Premiere: June 7, 1945. London, UK.
English libretto by Montagu Slater
Recommended Recording: Watson, Pears, Evans, Pease, Royal Opera House Orchestra & Chorus, Britten (1958)

WAR AND PEACE
(7 lists)
Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
Premiere: June 12, 1946. Leningrad, USSR.
Russian libretto by Mira Mendelson
Recommended Recording: Miller, Vishnevskaya, Ciesinski, Paunova, Petkov, French Radio Orchestra & Chorus, Rostropovich (1986)

THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA (3 lists)
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Premiere: July 12, 1946. Glyndebourne, UK.
English libretto by Ronald Duncan.
Style: Chamber opera
Recommended Recording: Pears, Harper, Baker, Shirley-Quirk, English Chamber Orchestra, Britten (1970)

BETROTHAL IN A MONASTERY (3 lists)
Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
Premiere: Nov. 3, 1946. Leningrad, USSR.
Russian libretto by Sergei Prokofiev and Mira Mendelson

THE CONSUL (3 lists)
Composer: Gian Carlo Menotti.
Premiere: March 1, 1950. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
English libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti.

THE RAKE’S PROGRESS (7 lists)
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Premiere: Sept. 11, 1951. Venice, Italy.
English libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman
Style: Number opera
Recommended Recording: Langridge, Pope, Ramey, Walker, Dobson, London Sinfonietta & Chorus, Chailly (1983)

BILLY BUDD (7 lists)
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Premiere: Dec. 1, 1951. London, UK.
English libretto by E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier
Recommended Recording: Langridge, Egerton, Keenlyside, Tomlinson, London Symphony Orchestra, Hickox (1999)

AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS (2 lists)
Composer: Gian Carlo Menotti
Premiere: Dec. 24, 1951. New York, New York, US (televised).
English libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti.
Style: Television opera
Recommended Recording: Rainbird, Haywood, Dobson, Royal Opera House Orchestra & Chorus, Menotti (1986)

THE TURN OF THE SCREW (6 lists)
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Premiere: Sept. 14, 1954. Venice, Italy.
English libretto by Myfanwy Piper
Style: Chamber opera
Recommended Recording: Lott, Langridge, Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble, Bedford (1993)

THE MIDSUMMER MARRIAGE
(2 lists)
Composer: Michael Tippett.
Premiere: Jan. 27, 1955. London, UK.
English libretto by Michael Tippett.

SUSANNAH (2 lists)
Composer: Carlisle Floyd.
Premiere: Feb. 24, 1955. Talahassee, Florida, US.
English libretto by Carlisle Floyd.

DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES
 (DIALOGUES OF THE CARMELITES) (6 lists)
Composer: Francis Poulenc
Premiere: January, 1957. Milan, Italy (La Scala)
French libretto by Francis Poulenc

MOSES UND ARON (MOSES AND AARON) (5 lists)
Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
Premiere: June 6, 1957. Zurich, Switzerland. (Composed 1930-1932.)
German libretto by Arnold Schoenberg
Recommended Recording: Mazura, Langridge, Haugland, Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Solti (1984)

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (6 lists)
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Premiere: June 11, 1960. Aldeburgh, UK.
English libretto by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears
Recommended Recording: Deller, Harwood, Harper, Veasey, Pears, London Symphony Orchestra, Britten (1966)

ELEGY FOR YOUNG LOVERS (2 lists)
Composer: Hans Werner Henze
Premiere: May 20, 1961. Schwetzingen, Germany.
English libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman
Recommended Recording: Schudel, Lloyd-Morgan, Richard, Berlin Chamber Opera Orchestra, Jones (1989).

KING PRIAM (3 lists)
Composer: Michael Tippett
Premiere: May 29, 1962. Coventry, UK.
English libretto by Michael Tippett.
Recommended Recording: Bailey, Harper, Allen, Langridge; London Sinfonietta & Chorus; Atherton (1980)

DIE SOLDATEN (THE SOLDIERS) (2 lists)
Composer: Bernd Alois Zimmermann.
Premiere: Feb. 15, 1965. Cologne, Germany.
German libretto by Bernd Alois Zimmerman.

THE BASSARIDS (2 lists)
Composer: Hans Werner Henze.
Premiere: Aug. 6, 1966. Salzburg, Austria.
English libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman.

DEATH IN VENICE (3 lists)
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Premiere: June 16, 1973. Aldeburgh, UK.
English libretto by Myfanwy Piper.
Recommended Recording: Pears, Shirley-Quick, Bowman, English Chamber Orchestra, Bedford (1974)

EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH (4 lists)
Composer: Philip Glass
Premiere: July 25, 1976. Avignon, France.
Contains writings by Christopher Knowles, Samuel M. Johnson and Lucinda Childs.
Style: Minimalist opera
Recommended Recording: Riesman, Philip Glass Ensemble; Glass, Gibson, Childs (1976).

LE GRAND MACABRE (THE GRAND MACABRE) (5 lists)
Composer: György Ligeti
Premiere: April 12, 1978. Stockholm, Sweden.
German libretto by György Ligeti and Michael Meschke.
Recommended Recording: Weller, Davies, Walmsley-Clark, Smith, Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Howarth (1991)

SAINT FRANÇOIS D’ASSISE (ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI) (3 lists)
Composer: Olivier Messiaen
Premiere: Nov. 28, 1983. Paris, France.
French libretto by Olivier Messiaen.

A NIGHT AT THE CHINESE OPERA (3 lists)
Composer: Judith Weir
Premiere: July 8, 1987. Cheltenham, UK.
English libretto by Judith Weir.

NIXON IN CHINA (4 lists)
Composer: John Adams
Premiere: Oct. 22, 1987. Houston, Texas, U.S.
English libretto by Alice Goodman.
Style: Minimalist opera

One thought on “Best Operas of All Time – Chronological

  1. Pingback: Kill Da Wabbit: Introducing the Opera Lists | Make Lists, Not War

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s