Music

The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked  

Buster McDermott
Originally by
69.9k votes 8.9k voters 394.9k views 187 items

List Rules Famous operas

List of the best operas of all time - a comprehensive greatest opera list that includes work that includes works from all over the world by Italian, French, German, Austrian, Russian, Czech, and American composers, and many more. This list features a variety of operatic genres and styles, including opera seria, opera buffa, opera comique, as well as bel canto and Singspiel styles of singing. Be sure to vote for the famous operas you believe are the greatest of all time, and vote down any you don't like. You can also re-rank this list in any order you want.

What makes a great opera so great? A compelling storyline is certainly important, but it's the music that keeps us enraptured. Some of the best opera songs of all time are included in these operas listed here, including "Habanera" from 'Carmen,' "Nessun dorma" from Giacomo Puccini's 'Turandot' and "Celeste Aida" from Guiseppe Verdi's 'Aida.'

The operas listed here are classics. Many have been enjoyed by opera lovers for centuries, in fact. Some are tragedies, and they'll bring tears to even the driest of eyes (Puccini's 'La boheme' comes to mind, as does his 'Madame Butterfly' and Verdi's 'La traviata'). Wipe those tears away, and start voting for the best operas, right here and right now.
list ordered by
1
Rigoletto is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 11 1851
Rigoletto is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The Italian libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo. Despite serious initial problems ...more
2
La traviata is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 06 1853
La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La dame aux Camélias, a play adapted from the novel by ...more
3
La bohème is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
La bohème Feb 01 1896
La bohème is an opera in four acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri ...more
4
Turandot is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Apr 25 1926
Turandot is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, completed by Franco Alfano, set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Though Puccini's first interest in the ...more
5
Tosca is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 14 1900
Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900. The work, based on ...more
6
Carmen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 03 1875
Carmen is an opera in four acts by the French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper ...more
7
Madama Butterfly is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 17 1904
Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. The libretto of the opera is based in part on the short story ...more
8
Le nozze di Figaro is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
May 01 1786
Le nozze di Figaro, ossia la folle giornata (Trans: The Marriage of Figaro or the Day of Madness), K. 492, is an opera buffa (comic opera) composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with ...more
9
The Magic Flute is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
The Magic Flute Oct 01 1791
The Magic Flute, K. 620, is an opera in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both ...more
10
Don Giovanni is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Oct 29 1787
Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. It ...more
11
Aida is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 24 1871
Aida, sometimes spelled Aïda, is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario often attributed to French Egyptologist Auguste ...more
12
The Barber of Seville is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 20 1816
The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais's ...more
13
Otello is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 05 1887
Otello is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's play Othello. It was Verdi's penultimate opera, and was first performed at the ...more
14
Il trovatore is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 19 1853
Il trovatore is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto largely written by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El trovador by Antonio García Gutiérrez. It ...more
15
Pagliacci is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
May 21 1892
Pagliacci is an Italian opera in a prologue and two acts, with music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It is the only Leoncavallo opera that is still widely staged. Pagliacci premiered at the ...more
16
Lucia di Lammermoor is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Sep 26 1839
Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian language libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The ...more
17
L'elisir d'amore is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
May 12 1832
L'elisir d'amore is a comic opera in two acts by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto, after Eugène Scribe's libretto for Daniel Auber's Le ...more
18
Der Ring des Nibelungen is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Aug 13 1876
Der Ring des Nibelungen, WWV 86, is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner. The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied. The ...more
19
Norma is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 26 1831
Norma is a tragedia lirica or opera in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini with libretto by Felice Romani after Norma, ossia L'infanticidio by Alexandre Soumet. It was first produced at La Scala in ...more
20
Eugene Onegin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 29 1879
Eugene Onegin, Op. 24, is an opera in 3 acts, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto, organised by the composer and Konstantin Shilovsky, very closely follows certain passages in ...more
21
Tristan und Isolde is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jun 10 1865
Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was ...more
22
Cavalleria rusticana is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
May 17 1890
Cavalleria rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni to an Italian libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci, adapted from a play and short story written by Giovanni ...more
23
Così fan tutte is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 26 1790
Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, K. 588, is an Italian-language opera buffa in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first performed on 26 January 1790, at the Wiener ...more
24
Nabucco is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 09 1842
Nabucco is an Italian-language opera in four acts composed in 1841 by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera. The libretto is based on biblical stories from the Book of ...more
25
Don Carlos is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 11 1867
Don Carlos is a five-act grand opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi to a French-language libretto by Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle, based on the dramatic play Don Carlos, Infant von ...more