Music

The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked 

Buster McDermott
Originally by
Updated October 2, 2019 76.1k votes 9.3k voters 406k 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
La bohème is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
La bohème Feb 01 1896

Composer: Giacomo Puccini

Librettist: Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in four acts

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
2
Rigoletto is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Rigoletto Mar 11 1851

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Librettist: Francesco Maria Piave

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in three acts

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
3
Turandot is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Apr 25 1926

Composer: Giacomo Puccini

Librettist: Renato Simoni, Giuseppe Adami

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in three acts

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
4
Don Giovanni is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Oct 29 1787

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Librettist: Lorenzo Da Ponte

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Dramma giocoso

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
5
Carmen is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 03 1875

Composer: Georges Bizet

Librettist: Henri Meilhac, Ludovic Halévy

Language: French Language

Genres (Opera): Opéra comique

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
6
Le nozze di Figaro is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
May 01 1786

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Librettist: Lorenzo Da Ponte

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera buffa

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
7
La traviata is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 06 1853

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Librettist: Francesco Maria Piave

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in three acts

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
8
Madama Butterfly is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 17 1904

Composer: Giacomo Puccini

Librettist: Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in three acts

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
9
Tosca is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 14 1900

Composer: Giacomo Puccini

Librettist: Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in three acts

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
10
Otello is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 05 1887

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Librettist: Arrigo Boito

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Lyric drama

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
11
The Magic Flute is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
The Magic Flute Oct 01 1791

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Librettist: Emanuel Schikaneder

Language: German Language

Genres (Opera): Singspiel

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
12
Pagliacci is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
May 21 1892

Composer: Ruggero Leoncavallo

Librettist: Ruggero Leoncavallo

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in two acts

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
13
Il trovatore is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 19 1853

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Librettist: Salvatore Cammarano, Leone Emanuele Bardare

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in four acts

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
14
Aida is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 24 1871

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Librettist: Antonio Ghislanzoni

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in four acts

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
15
Der Ring des Nibelungen ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Aug 13 1876

Composer: Richard Wagner

Librettist: Richard Wagner

Language: German Language

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
16
The Barber of Seville is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 20 1816

Composer: Gioacchino Rossini

Librettist: Cesare Sterbini

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Opera buffa

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
17
Tristan und Isolde is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jun 10 1865

Composer: Richard Wagner

Librettist: Richard Wagner

Language: German Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in three acts

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
18
Lucia di Lammermoor is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Sep 26 1839

Composer: Gaetano Donizetti

Librettist: Salvatore Cammarano

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Tragic opera

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
19
Così fan tutte is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 26 1790

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Librettist: Lorenzo Da Ponte

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Dramma giocoso

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
20
L'elisir d'amore is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
May 12 1832

Composer: Gaetano Donizetti

Librettist: Felice Romani

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Melodramma giocoso

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
21
Die Walküre is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 26 1862

Composer: Richard Wagner

Librettist: Richard Wagner

Language: German Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in three acts

Die Walküre, WWV 86B, is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner with a German libretto by the composer. It is the second of the four operas that form Wagner's cycle Der Ring des ...more
22
Norma is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 26 1831

Composer: Vincenzo Bellini

Librettist: Felice Romani

Language: Italian Language

Genres (Opera): Lyric tragedy

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
23
Eugene Onegin is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 29 1879

Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Librettist: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Language: Russian Language

Genres (Opera): Lyric drama

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
24
Parsifal is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 25 1878

Composer: Richard Wagner

Librettist: Richard Wagner

Language: German Language

Genres (Opera): Opera in three acts

Parsifal is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, a 13th-century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival and his quest for the ...more
25
Die Entführung aus ... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jul 16 1782

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Librettist: Gottlieb Stephanie

Language: German Language

Genres (Opera): Singspiel

Die Entführung aus dem Serail is an opera Singspiel in three acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German libretto is by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner with adaptations by Gottlieb Stephanie. ...more