Musicals The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked  

Buster McDermott
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48.4k votes 6.6k voters 332.9k views 191 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.

1
1,461 630
The Magic Flute is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
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

2
953 343
Rigoletto is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
1,463 502
Don Giovanni is listed (or ranked) 3 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

4
1,433 521
Carmen is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
1,403 442
Le nozze di Figaro is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
1,245 373
La traviata is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
989 309
Tosca is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
1,193 363
La bohème is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
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

9
918 307
Turandot is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
844 243
The Barber of Seville is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
785 289
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
923 293
Madama Butterfly is listed (or ranked) 12 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

13
645 294
Così fan tutte is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
837 294
Der Ring des Nibelungen is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
683 279
Tristan und Isolde is listed (or ranked) 15 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

16
387 207
Eugene Onegin is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
374 203
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
457 177
Otello is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
473 170
Il trovatore is listed (or ranked) 19 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

20
447 232
Parsifal is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 25 1878 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

21
425 191
Pagliacci is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
368 222
Fidelio is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Nov 20 1805 Fidelio, Op. 72, is a German opera with spoken dialogue by Ludwig van Beethoven, his only opera. The German libretto was originally prepared by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of ...more

23
374 150
Norma is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
316 186
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
427 154
Lucia di Lammermoor is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
275 163
Boris Godunov is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 08 1874 Boris Godunov is an opera by Modest Mussorgsky. The work was composed between 1868 and 1873 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is Mussorgsky's only completed opera and is considered his ...more

27
492 190
Die Walküre is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 26 1862 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

28
319 135
Don Carlos is listed (or ranked) 28 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

29
309 146
Die Entführung aus dem Serail is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jul 16 1782 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

30
308 180
Faust is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 19 1859 Faust is a grand opera in five acts by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré from Carré's play Faust et Marguerite, in turn loosely based on Johann ...more

31
274 92
Cavalleria rusticana is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
330 162
Lohengrin is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Aug 28 1850 Lohengrin is a Romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably ...more

33
255 161
Les contes d'Hoffmann is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 10 1881 The Tales of Hoffmann is an opéra fantastique by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was written by Jules Barbier, based on three short stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann. Hoffmann is the ...more

34
284 249
Porgy and Bess is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Sep 30 1935 Porgy and Bess is an English-language opera composed in 1934 by George Gershwin, with a libretto written by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin from Heyward's novel Porgy and later play of the same ...more

35
239 170
La Cenerentola is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 25 1817 La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo is an operatic dramma giocoso in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. The libretto was written by Jacopo Ferretti, based on the fairy tale Cendrillon ...more

36
247 145
Falstaff is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 09 1893 Falstaff is an opera in three acts by the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV, parts ...more

37
167 127
Samson and Delilah is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 02 1877 Samson and Delilah, Op. 47, is a grand opera in three acts and four scenes by Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire. It was first performed in Weimar at the ...more

38
320 142
Salome is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Dec 09 1905 Salome, Op. 54, is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. ...more

39
301 142
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Nov 01 1862 Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is a music drama in three acts, written and composed by Richard Wagner. It is among the longest operas still commonly performed today, usually taking around ...more

40
222 126
Elektra is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 25 1909 Elektra, Op. 58, is a one-act opera by Richard Strauss, to a German-language libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, which he adapted from his 1903 drama Elektra. The opera was the first of many ...more

41
311 120
Der Rosenkavalier is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 26 1911 Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59, is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier ...more

42
251 117
Der fliegende Holländer is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 02 1843 Der fliegende Holländer, WWV 63, is a German-language opera, with libretto and music by Richard Wagner. Wagner claimed in his 1870 autobiography Mein Leben that he had been inspired to ...more

43
198 114
Guillaume Tell is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Aug 03 1829 William Tell is an opera in four acts by Gioachino Rossini, with a French libretto by Étienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Bis based on Friedrich Schiller's play William Tell, which drew on the ...more

44
121 114
La sonnambula is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Mar 06 1831 La sonnambula is an opera semiseria in two acts, with music in the bel canto tradition by Vincenzo Bellini set to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani, based on a scenario for a ballet-pantomime ...more

45
150 125
Les pêcheurs de perles is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Sep 30 1863 Les pêcheurs de perles is an opera in three acts by the French composer Georges Bizet, to a libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré. It was first performed on 30 September ...more

46
183 161
Dido and Aeneas is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jan 01 1689 Dido and Aeneas is an opera in a prologue and three acts, written by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell with a libretto by Nahum Tate. The first known performance was at Josias Priest's ...more

47
132 111
Werther is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 16 1892 Werther is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann. It is loosely based on the German epistolary novel The Sorrows ...more

48
157 151
Peter Grimes is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Jun 07 1945 Peter Grimes is an opera by Benjamin Britten

49
179 112
Orfeo is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 24 1607 L'Orfeo, sometimes called La favola d'Orfeo, is a late Renaissance/early Baroque favola in musica, or opera, by Claudio Monteverdi, with a libretto by Alessandro Striggio. It is based on the ...more

50
140 87
Manon Lescaut is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked
Feb 01 1893 Manon Lescaut is an opera in four acts by Giacomo Puccini. The story is based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost and ...more