List of important operas

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.

This list provides a guide to the most important operas, as determined by their presence on a majority of selected compiled lists (dating from between 1984 and 2000) of significant operas: see the Lists consulted section for full details.

1600–1699

  • 1607 L'Orfeo (Claudio Monteverdi). Widely regarded as the first operatic masterwork.[1]
  • 1640 Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (Monteverdi). Monteverdi's first opera for Venice, based on Homer's Odyssey, displays the composer's mastery of portrayal of genuine individuals as opposed to stereotypes.[2]
  • 1642 L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi). Monteverdi's last opera, composed for a Venetian audience, is often performed today. Its Venetian context helps to explain the complete absence of the moralizing tone often associated with opera of this time.[2]
  • 1644 Ormindo (Francesco Cavalli). One of the first of Cavalli's operas to be revived in the 20th century, Ormindo is considered one of his more attractive works.[2]
  • 1649 Giasone (Cavalli). In Giasone Cavalli, for the first time, separated aria and recitative.[2] Giasone was the most popular opera of the 17th century.[3]
  • 1651 La Calisto (Cavalli). Ninth of the eleven operas that Cavalli wrote with Faustini is noted for its satire of the deities of classical mythology.[4]
  • 1683 Dido and Aeneas (Henry Purcell). Often considered to be the first genuine English-language operatic masterwork. Not first performed in 1689 at a girls' school, as is commonly believed, but at Charles II's court in 1683.[5]
  • 1692 The Fairy-Queen (Purcell). A semi-opera rather than a genuine opera, this is often thought to be Purcell's finest dramatic work.[5]

1700–1749

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner, 1733
  • 1710 Agrippina (Handel). Handel's last opera that he composed in Italy was a great success,[6] and established his reputation as a composer of Italian opera.[7]
  • 1711 Rinaldo (Handel). Handel's first opera for the London stage was also the first all-Italian opera performed on the London stage.[7]
  • 1724 Giulio Cesare (Handel). Noted for the richness of its orchestration.[7]
  • 1724 Tamerlano (Handel). Described by Anthony Hicks, writing in Grove Music Online[full citation needed], as possessing a "taut dramatic power".[7]
  • 1725 Rodelinda (Handel). Rodelinda is often praised for the fullness of the melodic writing among Handel's output.[7]
  • 1728 The Beggar's Opera (Johann Christoph Pepusch). A satire of Italian opera seria based on a play by John Gay, the ballad opera format of The Beggar's Opera has proved popular even up to the current time.[8]
  • 1731 Acis and Galatea (Handel). Handel's only work for the theatre that is set to an English libretto.[9]
  • 1733 Orlando (Handel). An opera that is described by Anthony Hicks as "remarkable"[7] and by Orrey as one of Handel's "best works".[9]
  • 1733 La serva padrona (Giovanni Battista Pergolesi). Became a model for many of the opera buffas that followed it, including those of Mozart.[10]
  • 1733 Hippolyte et Aricie (Jean-Philippe Rameau). Rameau's first opera caused great controversy at its premiere.[11]
  • 1735 Ariodante (Handel). Both this opera and Alcina enjoy high critical reputations today.[7]
  • 1735 Alcina (Handel). Both this work and Ariodante were part of Handel's first opera season at Covent Garden.[7]
  • 1735 Les Indes galantes (Rameau). In this work Rameau added emotional depth and power to the traditionally lighter form of opĂ©ra-ballet.[11]
  • 1737 Castor et Pollux (Rameau). Initially only a moderate success, when it was revived in 1754 Castor et Pollux was regarded as Rameau's finest achievement.[11]
  • 1738 Serse (Handel). Deviation from the usual model of opera seria, Serse contains many comic elements rare in Handel's other works.[7]
  • 1744 Semele (Handel). Originally performed as an oratorio, Semele's dramatic qualities have often led to the work being performed on the opera stage in modern times.[12]
  • 1745 PlatĂ©e (Rameau). Rameau's most famous comic opera. Originally a court entertainment, a 1754 revival proved extremely popular with French audiences.[11]

1750–1799

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart aged 21 in 1777

1800–1832

Gioachino Rossini, 1820 (International Museum and Library of Music, Bologna)

1833–1849

1850–1875

1876–1899

1900–1920

1921–1944

From 1945

Significant firsts in opera history

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

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ John Whenham, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  2. ^ a b c d Ellen Rosand, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  3. ^ Viking p. 191
  4. ^ Martha Novak Clinkscale, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  5. ^ a b c Curtis Price, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  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[full citation needed]
  8. ^ Robert D. Hume, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  9. ^ a b Orrey p. 64
  10. ^ Orrey pp. 90–91
  11. ^ a b c d Graham Sadler, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  12. ^ Stanley Sadie, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  13. ^ Mary Hunter, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  14. ^ Viking pp. 375–76
  15. ^ Viking pp. 378–79
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Julian Rushton, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  17. ^ Viking p. 381
  18. ^ Caryl Clark, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  19. ^ Viking p. 393
  20. ^ Viking p. 370
  21. ^ Orrey p. 110
  22. ^ a b Orrey p. 113
  23. ^ Viking p. 752
  24. ^ Orrey p. 107
  25. ^ Orrey p. 114
  26. ^ Gordana Lazarevich, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  27. ^ Viking pp. 210–11
  28. ^ Viking p. 59
  29. ^ Viking pp. 1002–04
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Richard Osborne, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  31. ^ Viking pp. 1212–14
  32. ^ Viking pp. 1214–15
  33. ^ Oxford Illustrated p. 136
  34. ^ Clive Brown, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  35. ^ a b Simon Maguire, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  36. ^ A. Dean Palmer, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  37. ^ Viking pp. 884, 917–18
  38. ^ a b William Ashbrook, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  39. ^ Viking p. 38
  40. ^ Viking p. 66
  41. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Julian Budden, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  42. ^ Orrey p. 132
  43. ^ Viking pp. 659–60
  44. ^ Viking p. 70
  45. ^ Viking p. 609
  46. ^ Viking p. 277
  47. ^ Viking p. 278
  48. ^ Viking p. 1176
  49. ^ Viking p. 71
  50. ^ Viking p. 412
  51. ^ Viking p. 280
  52. ^ Oxford Illustrated pp. 246 ff.
  53. ^ Viking p. 660
  54. ^ Viking p. 282
  55. ^ Viking p. 92
  56. ^ a b Viking p. 1125
  57. ^ a b Viking p. 285
  58. ^ a b The New Penguin Opera Guide, p. 265
  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 pp. 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. ^ The New Penguin Opera Guide, p. 266
  87. ^ Viking p. 97
  88. ^ Viking p. 1149
  89. ^ Viking p. 115
  90. ^ Viking p. 736
  91. ^ Viking p. 397
  92. ^ Viking p. 664
  93. ^ Viking p. 1196
  94. ^ Viking p. 1098
  95. ^ Viking p. 988
  96. ^ Viking p. 1152
  97. ^ Viking p. 116
  98. ^ Viking p. 398
  99. ^ Viking p. 990
  100. ^ Viking p. 1198
  101. ^ Viking p. 1099
  102. ^ a b Viking p. 738
  103. ^ Viking p. 131
  104. ^ Viking p. 1188
  105. ^ Viking p. 1190
  106. ^ Viking p. 718
  107. ^ Viking p. 1020
  108. ^ Viking p. 992
  109. ^ Viking p. 118
  110. ^ Viking p. 1191
  111. ^ Viking p. 1192
  112. ^ Penguin Guide to Opera on Compact Discs, p. 53
  113. ^ Hugh Macdonald, writing in Grove
  114. ^ Viking p. 1087
  115. ^ Viking p. 624
  116. ^ Viking p. 1201
  117. ^ Viking p. 866
  118. ^ Viking p. 252
  119. ^ Viking p. 807
  120. ^ Viking p. 625
  121. ^ Viking p. 1022
  122. ^ Viking p. 720
  123. ^ Penguin Guide to Opera on Compact Discs, p. 54
  124. ^ Oxford Illustrated pp. 164–65
  125. ^ Viking p. 618
  126. ^ Viking p. 134
  127. ^ a b c Richard Taruskin, writing in Grove
  128. ^ Peter Ross, writing in Grove
  129. ^ Viking p. 1094
  130. ^ Michele Girardi, writing in Grove
  131. ^ Viking p. 564
  132. ^ a b c Rodney Milnes, writing in Grove
  133. ^ Ian Denley, in The New Grove
  134. ^ Jan Smaczny, writing in Grove
  135. ^ Viking p. 203
  136. ^ a b Oxford Illustrated p. 269
  137. ^ Oxford Illustrated pp. 281–87
  138. ^ Viking p. 728
  139. ^ Oxford Illustrated p. 304
  140. ^ Viking p. 559
  141. ^ Viking p. 1026
  142. ^ Viking p. 729
  143. ^ Viking p. 256
  144. ^ Oxford Illustrated p. 285
  145. ^ Viking p. 871
  146. ^ Viking p. 502
  147. ^ Viking p. 1028
  148. ^ Viking p. 1241
  149. ^ Viking p. 872
  150. ^ Viking p. 635
  151. ^ Viking p. 1029
  152. ^ Viking p. 849
  153. ^ Viking p. 1031
  154. ^ Peter Franklin, writing in Grove
  155. ^ Viking p. 314
  156. ^ Viking p. 137
  157. ^ Viking p. 1045
  158. ^ Viking p. 485
  159. ^ Viking p. 168
  160. ^ Viking p. 1251
  161. ^ Viking p. 773
  162. ^ Oxford Illustrated pp. 286–87
  163. ^ a b c David Murray, writing in Grove
  164. ^ Christopher Palmer, writing in Grove
  165. ^ Viking p. 505
  166. ^ Oxford Illustrated p. 306
  167. ^ Viking p. 1252
  168. ^ Viking p. 953
  169. ^ a b Michael Kennedy, writing in Grove
  170. ^ Viking p. 506
  171. ^ Oxford Illustrated p. 297
  172. ^ Harman A & Mellers W. Man and His Music: The Story of Musical Experience in the West. Barrie and Rockliff, London, 1962, p. 950.
  173. ^ Orrey p. 218.
  174. ^ Viking p. 477
  175. ^ Tibor TalliĂĄn, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  176. ^ Viking p. 1076
  177. ^ a b John Tyrrell, writing in Grove[full citation needed]
  178. ^ Oxford Illustrated, pp. 310–11
  179. ^ Viking p. 542
  180. ^ a b Stephen Hinton, writing in Grove
  181. ^ Viking p. 980
  182. ^ Orrey p. 220
  183. ^ Laurel E. Fay, writing in Grove
  184. ^ Viking p. 1039
  185. ^ Richard Crawford, writing in Grove
  186. ^ Orrey p. 219
  187. ^ Viking p. 1120
  188. ^ Viking p. 1041
  189. ^ Viking p. 613
  190. ^ Viking p. 480
  191. ^ Viking p. 143
  192. ^ Oxford Illustrated p. 316
  193. ^ Viking p. 1115
  194. ^ Viking p. 144
  195. ^ Viking p. 803
  196. ^ Viking p. 802
  197. ^ a b c Bruce Archibald, writing in Grove
  198. ^ a b c d e f Arnold Whittal, writing in Grove
  199. ^ Viking p. 307
  200. ^ Viking p. 793
  201. ^ Anthony Sellors, writing in Grove
  202. ^ Viking p. 649
  203. ^ Viking p. 1050
  204. ^ Viking p. 462
  205. ^ Viking p. 152
  206. ^ Viking p. 1208
  207. ^ a b c Geraint Lewis, writing in Grove
  208. ^ Jon Alan Conrad, writing in Grove
  209. ^ Viking p. 794
  210. ^ a b Barbara B. Heyman, writing in Grove
  211. ^ Viking p. 795
  212. ^ a b c d e f g h Andrew Clements, writing in Grove
  213. ^ a b Orrey, p. 234
  214. ^ a b Adrian Thomas, writing in Grove
  215. ^ Viking p. 159
  216. ^ Viking p. 243
  217. ^ a b Paul Griffiths, writing in Grove
  218. ^ Viking p. 854
  219. ^ David Osmond-Smith, writing in Grove
  220. ^ Tim Page, writing in Grove
  221. ^ Viking p. 108
  222. ^ Viking p. 1232
  223. ^ Viking p. 18
  224. ^ a b Oxford Illustrated p. 8
  225. ^ Viking p. 174
  226. ^ Oxford Illustrated p. 31
  227. ^ Viking p. 180
  228. ^ Stein (1999), paragraph six
  229. ^ Russell: "Manuel de Zumaya", Grove Music Online

Sources

  • Boyden, Matthew; et al. (1997). Opera, the Rough Guide. ISBN 978-1-85828-138-4.
  • Czajkowski, Paul; Edward Greenfield; Ivan March; Robert Layton (ed.), The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs 2005–2006: The Key Classical Recordings on CD, DVD and SACD. ISBN 0-14-102262-0
  • EncyclopĂŠdia Britannica: Macropedia Volume 24, 15th edition. "Opera" in "Musical forms and genres". ISBN 0-85229-434-4
  • Grout, Donald Jay and Claude V. Palisca (1996). A History of Western Music, 5th edition. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-96904-5
  • Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 19 January 2007), grovemusic.com, subscription access. (Various entries on operas, composers and genres)
  • Orrey, Leslie; Milnes, Rodney (1987). Opera: A Concise History. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 9780500202173.
  • Parker, Roger (ed). (1994). The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-816282-7.
  • Russell,Craig H., "Manuel de Zumaya", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed September 18, 2008), (subscription access)
  • Stein, Louise K. (1999), La pĂșrpura de la Rosa (Introduction to the critical edition of the score and libretto), Ediciones Iberautor Promociones culturales S.R.L. / Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales, 1999, ISBN 84-8048-292-3 (reprinted with permission of the publisher on Mundoclasico.com). Accessed 5 September 2008.
  • The Viking Opera Guide (1993). ISBN 0-670-81292-7 Contributions are by noted specialists in their fields.
  • Warrack, John; West, Ewan (1992). The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. ISBN 978-0-19-869164-8.

Lists consulted

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 978-0-19-869164-8.
  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

Operas included in all 9 lists

Copyright