Music

The Greatest Operas of All Time, Ranked

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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.
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list ordered by
  • 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
  • Don Giovanni
    2
    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
  • La traviata
    3
    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
  • 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 French ...more
  • Tosca
    5
    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
  • Carmen
    6
    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
  • La bohème
    7
    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
  • Aida
    8
    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
  • 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
  • The Magic Flute
    10
    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
  • 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
  • Turandot
    12
    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
  • Così fan tutte
    13
    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 Burgtheater in ...more
  • 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
  • Rigoletto
    15
    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
  • Die Walküre
    16
    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
  • Il trovatore
    17
    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
  • Norma
    18
    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
  • 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 Verga. ...more
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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. The plot ...more
  • 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
  • Rusalka
    24
    Rusalka, Op. 114, is an opera by Antonín Dvořák. The Czech libretto was written by the poet Jaroslav Kvapil based on the fairy tales of Karel Jaromír Erben and Božena Němcová. Rusalka is one of the ...more
  • Otello
    25
    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