Show Mobile Navigation
The Arts

Top 10 Greatest Operas

Schiesl . . . Comments

I, like JFrater, am a lover of opera and have performed in a few as well. Here is my list of the 10 best operas of all time. The items are picked through online voting and my own personal preferences, here ya go! [JFrater would like to publicly protest the exclusion of any 20th Century operas, but defers to the wisdom of the contributor.]


Jacopo Peri

This one is on the list only because it is the first opera ever written! Though almost none of it survives today, I believe the first of anything should be on a list! (Many historians, and JFrater, believe Hildegard von Bingen’s 12th century “Ordo virtutum” is the first opera, but it is not known if it was ever staged, Daphne was). The clip above is not from Daphne, but Peri’s music is very hard to find, so this is a clip of a counter-tenor singing an excerpt from Invocazione di Orfeo.


Der Freischütz
Carl Maria von Weber

This, although not well known or well liked, is one of my favorite German operas. Inspired by German folk music and the romantic ideals of the day. It is the story of a man who sells his soul to the Devil so he can shoot straighter and win the heart of a woman. But, as in many cases, he dies. The Wolf Glen Scene is very creepy and awesome.


The Barber of Seville
Gioacchino Rossini

From Largo al Factotum to the amazing overture, it has one of the most recognizable first 10 minutes of any opera. This is about a man named Count Almaviva trying to win the heart of a beautiful girl, with the help of Figaro, the local barber.


Madame Butterfly
Giacomo Puccini

The story takes place in Japan in the 1890’s. Tamaki Miura became famous for her part in this opera! This is about a young Geisha woman named Butterfly and her love triangle with Lt. Pinkerton and Suzuki.


Don Giovanni
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

This is a two act opera based on Don Juan. Motzart is famous for having both comedy and dramatics in his operas and this is no different. It also contains one of my favorite operatic scenes where Don Giovanni doesn’t repent for his sins and is sent to hell, great part!


La Traviata
Giuseppe Verdi

This story follows the courtesan Violletta and her love of a man named Alfredo. She has Tuberculosis and is dying. Sadly, as in most operas, she dies and it takes a long time. She dies in the arms of her love Alfredo. Some very beautiful and amazing arias throughout this work. Fantastic!


Der Ring des Nibelungen
Richard Wagner

This is technically more than one opera, but has been shoved together as one. It is the longest opera ever written. The four operas are called:

Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold)
Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)
Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)

As you will see in the clip above, the Ring Cycle contains some of the greatest and most well known of Wagner’s music.


The Marriage of Figaro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Part two of the three part series of Figaro (leading off with Rossini’s Barber of Seville or #9). This opera takes place entirely in one day in Count Almaviva’s Palace. It is famous for its mistaken identities and wonderful comedy woven throughout the opera, and of course the overture.


Georges Bizet

The opera of Carmen the Gypsy girl and her love of Don Jose. Like most operas, the love doesn’t last long and they start fighting and Carmen is killed in the end. Famous for its overture, the Song of the Toreador, and Habanera!


La Boheme
Giacomo Puccini

It is the most performed and most well liked opera of this and probobly any time! It is the inspiration for the musical “Rent!” and is similar in many ways, except they don’t have AIDS they have TB, well Mimi does and she of course dies.

Feel free all of you opera lovers to start arguing and I’m sure there will be a blood bath over this one. Sadly for some, I couldn’t find a good recording sorry, but I hope this suffices.

Contributor: Schiesl

  • GForce

    This is title "Greatest Operas" but for number 9 you said its not well know or well liked. Then how does it quality as one of the greatest?

    • Bromthebard

      It said at the beginning that is was a combination of the most famous, well liked, most voted on, and his personal favorites

  • stevenh

    I am always learning something new here.

    Great List, Great Clips

  • DiamondDragon

    I love opera very much and this list is great! And I agree, it’s bloody hard to find a good recording of these songs!
    Will opera disappear completaly soon? :(
    I hope not.. let opera live!!

  • Diamond Dragon

    Great list! And I agree, it’s bloody hard to find good recordings of opera music these days :(
    And Daphne fascinated me! The oldest opera? I never knew! Fantastic!
    Well thanks for this list!

  • Diamond Dragon

    Sorry about the double post, the first post didn’t appear until now even though I went to another page and then back to this page :(

  • Aaron

    Thank you so much, I love this list and I can’t wait to go through it more. I love that clip from Don Giovanni, I’m really excited to see the clip from La Boheme because I just saw it, and have kind of fallen in love it. A lot of great choices here. I WANT TO SEE THEM ALL!

  • carpe_noctem

    Amazing list, well done! I love von Weber’s opera, it’s very very underrated by today’s operatic standards. And I must say, I was very surprised that you didn’t choose “Un Bel Di” as your showcase piece for Madame Butterfly!

    Out of the ten you have in this list, the only disagreement I have is that the Barber of Seville is so low on the list. I think it deserves a higher place, if only because of how well known it is! And I was also surprised to see Don Giovanni instead of The Magic Flute (which i personally despise) and Cosi Fan Tutti. But overally, an amazingly detailed and well thought out list, well done! This must’ve been a difficult list, given that you’ll have many many criticisms if you’ve you’ve left off someone’s favourite aria from Turandot or that Flower Duet song from Lakme’s opera, but seriously, well done on getting it down to just ten!

    I do however agree with Jfrater, some 20th century opera could have nicely rounded this off, I know many people disagree, but I think Alban Berg’s Wozzeck is among the best of 20th century Opera, however the omission of Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovitch (much more known for his other works) AND Karlheinz Stockhausen is unforgivable! I’m not saying have them all, but at least one!

    Great work, do another one!

  • I haven’t been to see any operas performed, but I’ve played plenty of overtures from them, and some parts of the ‘Le Cid’ opera. It’s been over 2 years since I’ve seen the intro to ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ overture & I can still remember how to play the intro! :lol:

    Good list ;)

  • Bass

    Very good list. It’s nice to see some more musical lists coming back.

  • warrrreagl

    The best part about these opera lists is that I have a one-stop shop for links to show my Music Appreciation classes. Thanks for all this!

  • DiscHuker

    i have to put opera in the same category of beer, sushi, coffee and rush; things i have tried to like but my senses just won’t allow it.

    i have no doubt that these are good choices and representative of the best the art has to offer. my ears just don’t appreciate this particular form of music.

    • Stefan

      I was completely the same.. but sometimes you have to just make yourself uncomfortable – and after a while you’ll get past it, and you’ll be able to enjoy it and be able to appreciate it for all it’s complexities!

      I had the same issue with opera, a lot of modern jazz and freaky contemporary electronic music. It’s hard when you start out with a style of music you aren’t used to (well for me it was; I had hippie parents who never listned to classical music.. or anything that didn’t have an acoustic guitar) – you have to adjust the way you listen to things!

      If you’re like me you probably feel like you’re missing out – but if you want to, just stick with it! I’m sure your ears will adjust and you can start enjoying this amazing, and important form of art :)

  • jake ryder

    personally would have put Carmen first but still love the list.

  • Sergej

    i would prefer Tosca as Puccinis No1, and then, it is difficult to say which 10 to take, because you can always find ten more, that deserve to be in the first 10. (Donizetti’s Elissir d’amore, or Lucia, Bellini’s Norma, Verdi with at least 8 more operas with great quartet in Rigoletto, or male duett in Don Carlo, even an Operette Die Fledermaus (The Bat) with second greatest overture, behind the Barber…)
    But, i accept Your choice, it is a good one.

  • playyahplay

    Wonderful List and I could listen to that women sing Carmen for the rest of my life and be perfectly content. Like most ppl of my generation I know most of these aria thanks to Looney Tunes. Sadly, the FCC doesn’t like Looney tunes so my children can’t enjoy this music the way I first did, in a format that amused and enlightened, since some of the imagery is considered “racially insensitive”. Of course, if the FCC knew Latin, German, and Italian none of us could hear any of this music again.

  • Rocknopera

    No Turandot?

  • DiscHuker

    playyahplay: you are right about the looney toons connection. i never thought about it before but now that you mention it, i do recall seeing elmer fudd in a barber’s chair with bugs bunny slapping his head with his ears to the tune of figaro.

    on a seperate note (no pun intended), and i mean this question seriously, what is it about opera that i should like? what, for you fans out there, makes it so enjoyable?

    it is hard to convey tone while i am just typing. i don’t mean these as accusatory questions, just seeking information from some more educated in this field than i am.

  • Alan Andrew

    Where the hell is Aida?????

  • playyahplay

    DiscHuker: Opera rouses an emotion in your soul. It doesn’t matter if u understand the lyrics, the music itself conveys the feelings of the scene. The way club music makes you line dance or shake your booty meat opera can make you feel sad or joyous with just music. Listen to the Carmen clip again with eyes closed and soul open to see what emotions are brought forth. Thats why I like opera…I want to feel something inside.

  • Callie

    I danced in the ballet version of Carmen in college…great music

  • SlickWilly

    My only operatic experience was sitting through the first 45 of Marriage of Figaro before becoming violently ill with food poisoning. I felt really terrible because I was on a date with my girlfriend at the time. Eh, easy come, easy go, I guess.

  • Daniel

    Mozart did not write the operas, he composed the music played for the operas. The writers of the operas paid him and,so, he did his job: write music.

  • Mom424

    I’m with Dischuker on this one. My musical theatre tastes generally run to Porgy and Bess, or Oklahoma, or The Mikado, or South Pacific.

    My Aunt took me to the opera when I was a teenager/young adult, and although I didn’t really get the music, the spectacle was amazing. The rumbling in the chest from the power of the orchestra was moving as well. Great list, I’m learning something.

    I like the #10 pick, sounds much like a hymn, which I do
    understand and appreciate.

    Re looney tunes, The alum in the breath spray, classic Bugs comedy. Elmer Fudd was in one too. Kill the Rabbit, Kill the Rabbit!

  • alf

    No Pagliacci? What about Carmina Burana? Given the popularity of Fortuna Imperitux Mundi in modern movies and commercials, it seems a travesty to leave it out in favor of giving Figaro 2 slots (especially after giving Wagner’s Rings only one).

    • Donna

      Carmina Burana is not an opera, but a large oratorio work for soloists, chorus and orchestra based on the journal writing of Monks. There is no story line, just a great big song cycle, if you will, centering around Monk's desires, frustrations and joys. I love the piece, myself; but alas, it is not an opera….

  • mariposa

    mom 424, porgy and bess is an opera. And i know early on (basically before rossini) the Librettist (the person who wrote the words) where much better paid and above the actual composer. I did the “By: Motzart” or whoever because you know them much better then the librettist.

  • mariposa

    sorry, this is supposed to be schiesl, I’m at my friends house, haha

  • AngieWangieMangie

    I completely agree with having La Bohème as number one but… How about Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte or Verdi’s Il Trovatore or Offenbach’s Les Contes de Hoffmann or Donozetti’s Lucia de Lammermoor? Oh! And let us not forget about Rigoletto and Turandot!!! Or how about every opera Puccini made :) And also Dvorak’s Rusalka should be in this list…
    Oh, well… I suppose a second list won’t harm anyone, will it? ;)

  • Kreachure

    Indeed, the Looney Tunes had several shorts which used famous opera music, including some from this list’s choices. They sometimes used it as background music (very, very common). And other times they were the subject of the plot, such as “The Rabbit of Seville” where Elmer Fudd chased Bugs while performing several operatic scenes (from ‘Barber’, obviously).

    Other classic WB shorts include “Long-Haired Hare”, where Bugs clashes with an opera singer while performing many classic opera songs; “What’s Opera, Doc?” with music from Wagner; and “O Silly Mio”, with themes from Carmen (okay, that last one is from Animaniacs, but it’s still pretty awesome like the rest).

    I must confess I grew attached to all these operas thanks to Warner Brothers cartoons, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

  • Cedestra

    I recently started getting into opera, mainly due to my friend/coworker’s training and love for the music. We had one night at work where we were playing several different opera clips, including the Rabbit of Seville :D
    16. DiscHuker- What makes opera loveable? I actually don’t listen to music, initially, for the lyrics. What grabs me to a song is the composition, then later I try to figure out what the artist meant by writing it. I listen to opera and hear the voice masterfully used to convey emotion, tell a story, and deliver music. These people were trained for years; these were the guitar shredders of pre-modern years. Although, that’s quite a crass comparison: most hair guitarists were only playing for a few years before putting together some cheesy song involving blatant innuendo. (I don’t appreciate 80’s Hair music, sorry.)
    What *really* gets me about opera is unprofessional people singing with such raw talent:
    I cannot watch these without crying.

  • Mom424

    Cedestra; Paul Potts made me cry too. Put those bullies in their proper place. (he was picked on mercilessly)

  • Dan

    I’ve recently gotten into opera, and I’ve listened to a few of these (La Boheme is my favorite). What struck me about it was the combination of a compelling story and singing. It has the drama or humor or sadness of a play plus the incredible beauty of music/singing. The first aria I ever heard was Ave Maria, sung by Pavarotti. I was caught off guard by his voice, and started crying because I knew I had found something beautiful, and I’ve been listening to Pavarotti, and other tenors (my favorite) ever since! Great list!

  • schiesl

    Dan, or anybody really. If you like pavarotti or beautiful singing. His Nessun Dorma is absolutly moving. I had it as a bonus on this list but wasn’t added. So here is Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s “Turandot”

  • Hey all – just wanted to let you know that I am home from my holidays!

  • Kreachure

    Well hey there! Welcome back, you! :D

  • Kreachure

    Well, not that you left ‘us’ or anything… :P

  • Lizim

    Carmen is my favorite opera of all time. I remember sitting in my grandpa’s living room with him when I was about 7 listening to the record over and over again. It was hypnotizing.

    I was luck that when I was older my husband remembered me telling him about that special time with my grandpa and on our honeymoon he took me to see the it. It was truly one of the best nights of my life.

  • Hans

    Great list! I would say the Magic Flute needs a spot…i feel like it has made such an impression on the opera world.

    Diskhuker: I personally find that not all opera is exciting and breathtaking…if it was then it would be pretty boring. I listen for moments of harmonic perfection: Where it the melodies and orchestra and everything culminate into an awe inspiring moment that gives you (or at least me) chills. That’s is one of the reasons I love opera.

  • John

    Die Zauberflöte…the only opera almost everybody can appreciate and love opera fan or not. It’s so good.

  • JayArr

    Most opera, like coffee and Rush, hurts my tummy and my ears… for me, the most palatable versions thereof are definitely via B.Bunny and E.Fudd.

    Acknowledging the list as superb, I nonetheless prefer the instrumental and cartoon versions of most operatic venues.

  • Csimmons

    I know the barber one because i heard it from Looney Tunes yesterday, man, I need a life :)

  • Ruairi

    I saw the Merry Widow on friday night, though i think that counts more as an operetta

  • BrotherMan

    Jamie Frater:

    Please, provide your ListVersers with a sound clip of your muscial vocalisation from any opera.

    If you would read the last comment on your Top 10 Unanswered Questions list I would be personally appreciative. I think others would enjoy that as well.

  • woo hoo opera! eh i actually dont care that much about opera

  • The Marriage of Figaro hurts me….terribly. I feel the hurt within the left side of my bosom.

    Thank you, Scheisl!

  • lrose103

    Hi there, first post on ListVerse but I’ve been reading for a while! I just had to add something to this list since I’m a huge opera buff; my absolute favorite opera of all time is Lakhme, by Bizet (same composer who wrote Carmen). Gorgeous melodies and gripping,tragic plot – the best combination. The duet ‘Dome epais de jasmin’ is famous, and lesser known is the aria known as the ‘Bell Song’. If you can find a recording of Natalie Dessay singing that, you will be blown away. I really enjoy the site – keep the lists coming!

  • Al

    Every list needs more Zauberflöte. I may be a tiny bit biased because I’m a German major, and because it was the first opera I ever saw live and because I have a teensy obsession with Diana Damrau, but still. Other favorites include: Lakhme, Carmen, anything by Wagner (also have a teensy obsession with Wagnerian sopranos), Lucrezia Borgia, Lucia di Lammermoor, Samson and Delilah, Pagliacci, Madama Butterfly, Faust, La forza del destino and last and kind of least the Rape of Lucretia, I tend to not like modern and English operas but I really like that one. Bottom line, I like Soprano arias with lots of volume and emotion. Sorry for the wall’o’text but I just LOVE opera.

  • Pingback: ListVerse’s Top 10 Greatest Operas « The Intelligencer()

  • treypole

    I like opera because they’re all about sex. Except for German or Russian opera, which are about being German or Russian.

    alf: while Carmina Burana is one of the best vocal pieces ever written, it’s not an opera.

  • I listened to all these clips at least like…4 or 5 times yesterday (my laptop died, so I need more music to listen to) and I especially enjoyed that aria from Carmen. What a pleasure to watch and listen to! Thank you for this list, and introducing me to real opera.

  • Namowal

    I’d swap Aida with La Traviata, and work Tosca in the list. Maybe Salome too. And then there’s Cavalleria Rusticana
    But that’s just me…

  • Steve T.

    Daniel: You really sell Mozart short by saying he just wrote the music. Just?!?!? Take The Marriage of Figaro. The original French play by Beaumarchais was so politically incendiary, so contemptuous of the nobility, that it was banned from public performance throughout Europe. Mozart’s librettist Lorenzo da Ponte solved that problem by ruthlessly cutting the play and taking the contempt out. Then Mozart put it all back in. For example, the arrogance of Count Almaviva is not to be found in the words of the libretto, which is all the official censor had to go by. But it’s clear as day in Mozart’s music. Same with the Count’s servant Figaro’s intent to humiliate his noble lecher of a master, which in the 18th century was appalling insubordination in a commoner. The words of his aria “se vuol ballare” are mild as milk, but the music makes Figaro’s seething fury unmistakable.

    And yes, I was a music major and wrote a paper on this in college.

    BTW, any votes for Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier?

  • schiesl

    I love Richard Strauss, but i find his sonata’s to be better then the opera’s. That is why he is not on this list

  • KingoftheHorizon

    I love george bizet’s stuff
    Im always looking for sheet music of his pieces from operas and suites to play on piano(some would be adapted)

  • Algodon

    why does everyone use thr ride of the Valkyrie as example for Wagner. There are so many great pieces (from wagner) out there and most of them are not very well known.

  • Ember

    *sticks hand up*

    Count me as a vote for Rosenkavalier. Plus I would have definitely had Onegin as close to the top of my list.

  • Dr.Boris

    What about “Der fliegende Holländer” or “Parsifal” (Richard Wagner)? – they are far better than “Der Ring der Nibelungen”, I think.

  • suzi

    I’ve seen all these, some good choices. Hard to choose between La Triaviata and Rigoletto. Sad to see no Aida. It would just be impossible to get it all in 10, should have been a list of 20. Thanks for the music.

  • suzi

    Oh, and I hate to say it, but the Wagner drags for me a bit, not the featured music, but watching the whole cycle, takes a lot of devotion..

  • Drogo

    I would like to see the opera “Tommy” by the Who.

    [“That deaf, dumb, and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball!”]

    (I’m being a little bit of a smart aleck)

  • JJ

    There’s no doubt that everything on the original list qualifies as great. However, I think that the following must be considered too if we’re talking about the very greatest:

    Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)
    Don Carlos (Verdi)
    Otello (Verdi)
    The Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky)
    Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy)
    Fidelio (Beethoven)
    Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck)
    Falstaff (Verdi)
    Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)
    Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)
    L’orfeo (Monteverdi)
    Boris Godunov (Mussorgsky)
    Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner)

    This probably sounds a bit heavyweight, so just to reassure you that my all-time favourite is La bohème too !

    For anyone new to opera, and who wants to discover some (well, perhaps) lesser-known gems, I’d really encourage you to listen to the following as well, if you get the chance:

    La fanciulla del West (Puccini)
    Bluebeard’s Castle (Bartok)
    Katya Kabanova (Janacek)
    Manon Lescaut (Puccini)
    Giulio Cesare (Handel)
    Porgy & Bess (Gershwin)
    L’enfant et les sortiléges (Ravel)
    The Love for Three Oranges (Prokofiev)
    A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Britten)
    Dialogues des Carmélites (Poulenc)

    How lucky we are to have so much wonderful music to wallow in !

  • schiesl

    Many different opera’s were taken into account and that is indeed the powerhouse list of ones i just didnt have room to put on this list. I had L’Orfeo on this list when i originally thought it up…but couldnt bring myself to keep the great Carl Maria Von Weber off the list. He is the father of German Opera. but very good suggestions all around

  • AndyA

    Oh sweet-jumpin-jeepers, I love them all, could we have a top say 200? Great catch on Porgy and Bess, finally getting the attention that it’s been lacking for a long time. Is Opera dying? Try getting a ticket to the Met (or La Scala, or…) well the list is long and distinguished. Even here in Phoenix we’ve seen the advent of a second “traditional” opera company to compliment the hugely popular Arizona Opera. Bravo!! Bravissimo!!!

  • mlw510

    Gounod’s Faust should be on there, IMO. The problem with it is that there really isn’t anyone out there capable of singing the title role any more.

    Overall I like your list, but I too, miss the Verdi (Rigoletto or Aida, either one). Cavelleria is one of the great “one hit wonders” of opera and I would have liked to have seen it included as well. I’m with you on including the Ring cycle as one opera. It’s simply monumental, though in spite of how thrilling the more famous parts of it are (like the Ride of the Valkyries), the parts I keep coming back to are the more tender ones, like when Wotan puts Brunhild to sleep or Siegmund and Sieglinde falling in love with each other.

    But it’s your list, not mine, and all of your choices are great operas, for sure…

  • Hilda

    “This is about a young Geisha woman named Butterfly and her love triangle with Lt. Pinkerton and Suzuki.”

    Uhm… SORRY? There is no love triangle. Lt. Pinkerton and Suzuki NEVER loved each other, he married Madam Butterfly, then left and got American wife because his marriage in Japan wasn’t counted as such in USA. Then Pinkerton and his American girl came back to take away Pinkerton and Butterfly’s son who was born during his leave.
    Just a friendly advice: maybe next time you’ll try actually watching, listening and understanding something before making pretentious list to show off your lack of knowledge?

    • picky

      Hurrah for someone else who was appalled that someone would actually make a list and know so little about the subject.

  • marios

    where is magic flute! for me the greatest work of art ever!
    tristan and isolde and meistersingers are two of them!

  • Pingback: a list of mozart s operas()

  • Peter

    Finally a list on which I can afree with the #1 spot. Of course it’s all arbitrary, but still. Puccini is the greatest, as far as I’m concerned. The one who wrote the sweetest music anyway.

    Hilda, how about not taking yourself so seriously and being a little nicer ? What you say is correct, but why be condescending ?

  • Nick

    Where is Aida?! I think Aida is the best opera ever written

  • BEwatermelon

    although a good enough list, you’re missung some of the greatest of all time


    and the best of all… PORGY AND BESS

  • glenintexas

    Idomeneo was a largely overlooked masterpiece in Mozart’s time and remains so today.

  • kopko

    “Lakme” is indeed wonderful, but it’s by Delibes, not Bizet.

  • elizaew

    How can anyone do a top ten opera list without including Turandot? I am stunned …..

  • EnfantMechant

    You got 3/4 of my favorites in there! The only one you missed I didn’t expect you to put on since, as you described Der Freischutz, it’s not very well liked or terribly popular (considering the audience walked out at it’s debut heh). It may be awkward as hell to stage, but I lovelovelove L’Enfant et les Sortilegess. You must admit, it’s kind of an acid trip and the music is rad (as is most of Ravel’s in my opinion). Even my username thingy is a reference to it… God I’m a dork.
    The only one I don’t like on here is Barber of Seville (with the exception of a few arias, of course)… it gives me motion sickness.
    Oh, and Ring (don’t shoot me please), though of course it deserves to be on the list… if only as a representative of the word “great” as meaning “large”.

    I think Otello, Fidelio, Lucia, Manon… maybe even Jenufa, should get an honorable mention :)

  • yesi

    I like the operas that you have up there, but I would have liked you to include faust, and have carmen in #1

  • Ray

    These are not the “10 Greatest Operas” – these are the “Ten Most Famous Operas”. I have heard hundreds of operas and Don Giovanni is possibly one the the worst in my opinion. Mozart’s The Magic Flute is brilliant. There is no mention of Berlioz’s Les Troyens here – which is an egregious omission. My favorite opera of all time would be Rameau’s Le temple de la Gloire.

  • Pingback: Kino, teratr, opera, itd. - - forum o grach, gry, mmorpg, trainery, poradniki()

  • rzzzzz

    one vote for Cosi fan tutte. an intimate ensemble reflects on the nature of amorous love, supported by the most beautiful music mozart ever scored for song.

    also, for you Warner Cartoon fans, don’t miss The Corny Concerto, which was directed by the one and only Bob Clampett; the first segment may be the funniest Bugs of all time.

  • Nicole

    What, no Tosca?

  • Pingback: Birmingham Verse » Blog Archive » Opera Birmingham: Practice for The Marriage of Figaro()

  • JuXio

    What is the name of the one with the clown :o

  • Alan

    Did everyone forget about "The Pearl Fishers" . It has one of the most beautiful male duets written. If you have a chance give a listen.

  • Anthony

    I think you are all wet. You have all but left out Verdi and Puccini, and other great Italian composers.
    Without them we would have no opera seasons. My God. Tosca, Rigaletto, La forza, The Masked Ball, sorry about my spelling. Get a grip on what people want to and pay to see. Madame should not even be there. Other than two good arias, what else. Get your nose out of the air.

  • Pingback: 101 Unique Date Ideas for Couples()

  • gollumizer

    i remember reading an essay of tolstoy, where he slammed the nibelungen rings, he heated it immensely. his comments on it is somewhat similar to comments on people who disagrees with the choices in any list, but of course with a lot less typos and grammatical errors. ah, the old lev..perhaps he had gone batty at the time.

    (sorry i can’t remember the title of the essay, haven’t got the boo with me)

    • gollumizer

      the book

  • herman

    How could an opera top 10 be complete without Verdi’s Nabucco?

    • Duncs

      I agree, Nabucco is class, of the best.

  • Maelini

    I know this an older list but I just had to put my two cents in.I think it should be a crime that Lucia and La Fille Du Regiment aren’t on this list! lol I agree with everything else though!

  • fliegendeholländer

    Flaubert: There are three things in the world I love most: the sea, Hamlet, and Don Giovanni.

    I rest my case.

  • james

    No Pagliacci? :(

  • DM

    My subjective list would have Lucia at no 1 always – can listen to it anytime.

    I never care about the plot of any opera – it’s usually trivial sentimental soap operaesque trash – I ONLY care about the music…and very much so!

  • I saw “La Boheme” when I was only 9 years old and not that I didn’t like it, it just wasn’t meant for a 9 year old to be dragged into the world of opera. What I do remember about it was that there was a very elderly Italian lady sitting next to me and the final scene when Mimi dies, this Italian woman was in absolute tears and chanting to herself in Italian. I looked at her and my jaw went agape and didn’t understand what she was crying about. Now I am an opera fanatic and “La Boheme” certainly goes down as my favorite of all time.

  • Lucchese

    The ten best operas:
    Lucia di Lamermoor
    Cavelleria Rusticana
    Madame Butterfly
    La Traviata
    Il Trovatore
    Don Giovanni

  • Siegfried

    La Boheme is worldwide the favorite, most performed, opera. Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Tosca are also among the top five favorites.

  • Mickey

    I was wondering why La Boheme wasn’t on the list.. until I see # 1 HAHAHA

  • In just two words: Die Zauberflöte!

  • Cavi

    What about Pagliacci? Personally, I think Pagliacci’s concept is the most distinct; it was the first to present the idea of the “sad clown.” No one can see that under the facade of a clown who acts his part, is the the growing madness of a betrayed love. Its best song is Vesti La Giubba.

  • peter8172

    Greatest opera of all time ? Three Words : WAGNER’S “RING CYCLE”. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Bayreuth Festival is on my Bucketlist !! That’s for sure. On Listverse, look up the list entitled “The Greatest Achievements Of The Human Mind” and see what No. 1 is. It didn’t surprise me at all !!! All 17 hours of it if I might add.

  • peter8172

    @ Cavi : “Vesti La Giubba” made the world’s greatest Tenors a helluva lot of money, especially Enrico Caruso. And don’t forget the bonus item that you get beforehand and that’s Pietro Mascagni’s One Act Opera “Cavalleria Rusticana”

  • peter8172

    I would also like to add Modest Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov”. My Grandfather saw it performed at The Met with whom many consider to be the greatest interpreter of Boris to ever step onto the stage, that being Feodor Chaliapin in the 1920’s. He told me that a woman in the front row fainted from the power of his voice during the Mad Scene of Boris

  • DidoandAeneas

    What about Tosca??

  • johnny

    Where’s Dido and Aeneas?

  • Steve

    Doesn’t “The Magic Flute” belong on this list?

  • Ad Suur


    A list for the average opera lover, whose interests and musical taste is limited to the standard repertoire.My list should not be complete without the opera’s of the last century: Wozzeck, Lulu, Moses und Aron, opera’s by Richard Strauss and Janacek, Lady Macbeth from Minsk, Die Soldaten by B.A. Zimmermann and not to forget Debussy’s masterpiece Pelleas et Melisande. I like all Wagners opera’s, for my he is by far the best opera composer of the 19 th century and in my opinion Puccini is the best Italian opera composer. For me Verdi was never the greatest opera composer. Of course Verdi has created excellent opera’s, (Don Carlos is my favorite), but he always bores me a little….But:all I wrote this is just my opinion..

  • peter8172

    If anybody on this planet that thinks that Richard Wagner’s “The Ring Of The Nibelung” should not be Number 1 on this list does not know what they are talking about. I will give “Elektra” by Richard Strauss a bonus, But “The Ring….” is a seventeen hour epic of mind blowing music and Stage Work that is unequal. Its in four different operas : “Das Rheingold”, “Die Walkure”, “Siegfried” and “Gotterdamerung”

  • peter8172

    I would like to make an addendum to the post that I just made. There is list on LISTVERSE called “The Top 1o Achievements of the Human Mind” and see what No. 1 is about

  • fantom
    Does enbody know whitch song it is in the background in 2:30 min of the show ? :)

  • Halil Cobuloglu

    I think Abduction from The Seraglio was one of the best opera plays. As a masterpiece of Mozart, it definitely deserves to be in top list.

  • Duncs

    Tosca is the best.

  • Pingback: Political News | Top 10 Greatest Operas()

  • Pingback: Top 10 Greatest Operas | Viral Investor()