Music
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The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked

Updated October 2, 2019 85.2k votes 10.4k voters 431.2k views173 items

List RulesFamous 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.
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  • 1
    1,888
    739

    Rigoletto

    Mar 11 1851

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistFrancesco Maria Piave

    LanguageItalian 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 with...  more
  • 2
    2,038
    725

    La bohème

    Feb 01 1896

    ComposerGiacomo Puccini

    LibrettistLuigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa

    LanguageItalian 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 Murger. The world premiere...  more
  • 3
    1,778
    611

    Turandot

    Apr 25 1926

    ComposerGiacomo Puccini

    LibrettistRenato Simoni, Giuseppe Adami

    LanguageItalian 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 subject was...  more
  • 4
    1,141
    458

    Otello

    Feb 05 1887

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistArrigo Boito

    LanguageItalian 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 Teatro...  more
  • 5
    968
    392

    ComposerGaetano Donizetti

    LibrettistSalvatore Cammarano

    LanguageItalian 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 Bride of...  more
  • 6
    1,230
    325

    Il trovatore

    Jan 19 1853

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistSalvatore Cammarano, Leone Emanuele Bardare

    LanguageItalian 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 was Gutiérrez's...  more
  • 7
    1,067
    396

    Pagliacci

    May 21 1892

    ComposerRuggero Leoncavallo

    LibrettistRuggero Leoncavallo

    LanguageItalian 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
  • 8
    2,393
    875

    Don Giovanni

    Oct 29 1787

    ComposerWolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    LibrettistLorenzo Da Ponte

    LanguageItalian 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 was...  more
  • 9
    710
    302

    Norma

    Dec 26 1831

    ComposerVincenzo Bellini

    LibrettistFelice Romani

    LanguageItalian 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 Milan on...  more
  • 10
    563
    221

    Don Carlos

    Mar 11 1867

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistCamille du Locle, Joseph Méry

    LanguageFrench Language

    Genres (Opera)Grand Opera

    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 Spanien by...  more
  • 11
    1,477
    719

    Madame Butterfly

    Feb 17 1904

    ComposerGiacomo Puccini

    LibrettistLuigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa

    LanguageItalian 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 "Madame...  more
  • 12
    1,018
    514

    ComposerRichard Wagner

    LibrettistRichard Wagner

    LanguageGerman 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 composed between...  more
  • 13
    881
    407

    L'elisir d'amore

    May 12 1832

    ComposerGaetano Donizetti

    LibrettistFelice Romani

    LanguageItalian 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 philtre. The...  more
  • 14
    493
    216

    ComposerRichard Strauss

    LibrettistHugo von Hofmannsthal

    LanguageGerman Language

    Genres (Opera)Comic opera in three acts

    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 de...  more
  • 15
    2,062
    1,069

    Carmen

    Mar 03 1875

    ComposerGeorges Bizet

    LibrettistHenri Meilhac, Ludovic Halévy

    LanguageFrench 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 Mérimée. The opera...  more
  • 16
    730
    329

    Die Walküre

    Dec 26 1862

    ComposerRichard Wagner

    LibrettistRichard Wagner

    LanguageGerman 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 Nibelungen. The...  more
  • 17
    1,569
    827

    Tosca

    Jan 14 1900

    ComposerGiacomo Puccini

    LibrettistLuigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa

    LanguageItalian 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
  • 18
    1,811
    988

    La traviata

    Mar 06 1853

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistFrancesco Maria Piave

    LanguageItalian 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 Alexandre Dumas,...  more
  • 19
    346
    109

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistFrancesco Maria Piave

    LanguageItalian Language

    Genres (Opera)Opera in four acts

    La forza del destino is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on a Spanish drama, Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino, by Ángel de Saavedra, 3rd Duke...  more
  • 20
    352
    102

    Macbeth

    Mar 14 1847

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistFrancesco Maria Piave

    LanguageItalian Language

    Macbeth is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi, with an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and additions by Andrea Maffei, based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name. Written for...  more
  • 21
    1,949
    1,051

    ComposerWolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    LibrettistLorenzo Da Ponte

    LanguageItalian 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 Italian...  more
  • 22
    1,294
    698

    Aida

    Dec 24 1871

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistAntonio Ghislanzoni

    LanguageItalian 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 Mariette,...  more
  • 23
    1,253
    661

    ComposerRichard Wagner

    LibrettistRichard Wagner

    LanguageGerman 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
  • 24
    314
    105

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistAntonio Somma

    LanguageItalian Language

    Genres (Opera)Opera in three acts

    Un ballo in maschera is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi with text by Antonio Somma. However, Somma's libretto was itself based on the five act libretto which playwright Eugène Scribe had...  more
  • 25
    309
    101

    Simon Boccanegra

    Mar 12 1857

    ComposerGiuseppe Verdi

    LibrettistFrancesco Maria Piave

    LanguageItalian Language

    Genres (Opera)Opera in three acts

    Simon Boccanegra is an opera with a prologue and three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Simón Bocanegra by Antonio García Gutiérrez, whose...  more