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Brief History



A drama that is primarily sung, accompanied by instruments, and presented theatrically. That opera is primarily sung distinguishes it from dramatic pieces in which music is incidental or clearly subsidiary to the drama. That it is presented theatrically distinguishes it from oratorio, which has similar musical components.

Opera has had a history of almost 400 years; in that time, it has exhibited many different forms and styles. Thus, overtures, choruses, ballets, and ensembles are present in operas of certain times and places—indeed, they may be the glories of the works in which they appear—but they do not define the genre. Likewise, an opera may be accompanied by an orchestra or by a small group of instruments; it may be sung throughout or it may be interspersed with spoken dialogue. The text of an opera, called a libretto, may be newly created or may be based on one or more purely literary antecedents; the author of a libretto may be primarily a poet, a dramatist, or simply an adapter. As a staged dramatic work, opera does presuppose an audience (in distinction to, say, madrigals or chamber music, which may very well be performed only for the enjoyment of the performers). Opera, then, is a social art, and its history includes both formal musical and social characteristics.

The best opera arias

Best Opera Aria

01. Nessun Dorma (Vincerò) - Turandot - Puccini - Mario Del Monaco 
02. Sempre Libera - La Traviata - Verdi - Maria Callas (3:00)
03. La Donna e' Mobile - Rigoletto - Verdi - Giuseppe Di Stefano (7:00)
04. Viva Il Vino Spumeggiante - Cavalleria Rusticana - Mascagni (9:29)
05. Si', Mi Chimano Mimi' - La Boheme - Puccini - Renata Tebaldi (12:12)
06. Celeste Aida - Aida - Verdi - Kristian Johannsson (17:38)
07. Libiamo, Libiamo Ne' Lieti Calici - La Traviata - Verdi - Ranata Tebaldi (22:06)
08. CastaTA DIVA - Norma - Bellini - Maria Callas (25:22)
09. Farfallone Amoroso - Le Nozze di Figaro - Mozart - Rolando Panerai (32:36)
10. Vesti La Giubba - I Pagliacci - Leoncavallo - Giuseppe Di Stefano (36:01)
11. Di Quella Pira - Il Trovatore - Verdi - Giuseppe Di Stefano (39:24)
12. Son Vergine Vezzosa - I Puritani - Bellini - Maria Callas (42:36)
13. Spargi d' Amaro Pianto - Lucia di lammermoor - Donizetti - Maria Callas (46:17)
14. La Ci Darem La Mano - Don Giovanni - Mozart - Cesare Siepi e Erna Berger (50:26)
15. Parigi o Cara - La Traviata - Verdi - Renata Tebaldi, Giacinto Prandelli (54:11)

I. 17th century 


Operatic history, in the sense of a continuous, unbroken tradition of works related to one another, begins in Italy at the end of the 16th century. The theoretical preparations for the new art form (and here theory preceded and encouraged practice rather than following it) were made in the three decades before 1600 by a group of poets, musicians, and classical scholars active in Florence, some of them at first under the sponsorship of Count Bardi in a group later called the Camerata.

The immediate results were three operas: Dafne and two settings of Euridice. The librettos for these works were written by Ottavio Rinuccini. Dafne, composed by Jacopo Peri in collaboration with Jacopo Corsi, was first performed in Florence in 1598 with the composer singing the role of Apollo. Only some of the music has survived. Peri’s Euridice, with some additions by Giulio Caccini, was performed and published in Florence in 1600. Caccini’s full setting of the text was first published in 1600 but was not performed until 1602.

The subjects of these operas derive from Greek myth, and the Florentines were much concerned with the manner in which ancient Greek drama was performed. But the language and the dramatic presentation of Rinuccini’s librettos are largely indebted to contemporary pastoral poetic dramas and to the intermedia. The Florentines were also interested in the music of ancient Greece, but their musical ideals in fact had much in common with those of the more progressive madrigalists: a concern for creating text settings that would be emotionally appropriate, expressive, and clearly intelligible.

The first operas, then, began with dramatic pastoral poems written expressly to be set entirely to music. The music itself consisted of songs, madrigallike choruses, dances, instrumental pieces, and most important, a new manner of reciting in music: a type of monody termed the stile rappresentativo or recitative. The vocal music was written in an abbreviated fashion in which only the outer voices—the melody and the bass line—were written down, while the harmonies supported by the bass line were improvised from numerals representing intervals.

Celebrations at the court of Mantua in 1607 and 1608 brought forth three new operas: La favola d’Orfeo (1607, libretto by Alessandro Striggio) and Arianna (1608, libretto by Rinuccini), both by Monteverdi, and Dafne (1608, libretto by Rinuccini, an adaptation of the libretto set by Peri in 1598), by Marco da Gagliano. The connections between these operas and their Florentine predecessors are clear (same myth, or libretto, or librettist). But in Orfeo, Monteverdi realized more fully than before the expressive and musical power of the stile rappresentativo. Orfeo is also more elaborately scored than its operatic predecessors (although the abundance of instruments of different types probably reflects the practice of the older intermedio) and shows a much greater richness in the variety and complexity of its musical forms, including instrumental *toccatas and *ritomellos, strophic and ternary *arias, and madrigallike choruses.

Rome became an operatic center in the second quarter of the 17th century. Indeed, in 1600, several months before the production of Peri’s Euridice, Emilio de’ Cavalieri produced a dramatic work making use of the new style, *Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo, sometimes referred to as the first oratorio because of its allegorical characters, didactic intent, and place of presentation—the oratory of St. Philip Neri. Opera in Rome received encouragement from two important clerical families. The Barberini family (which included Pope Urban VIII) built a theater capable of holding 3,000 spectators. It opened in 1632 with II Sant’Alessio, music by Stefano Landi. Giulio Rospigliosi, who was later to reign as Pope Clement IX, wrote the libretto for II Sant’Alessio and for several other operas (Chi soffre speri, 1639; Dal male il bene, 1653). Recitative, the great discovery of the Florentines and the expressive heart of the earlier operas, became less important in Roman operas; arias, choruses, and instrumental preludes received a more expansive musical treatment. To the pastoral and mythological subjects preferred in Florence and Mantua were added stories from saints’ lives, chivalric epics (Erminia sul Giordano), fantasy (II palazzo incantato), and comic subjects. An interest in spectacular scenic effects, which was a part of opera from its earliest days, was taken to even more lavish heights in Rome.

AIDA - "Marcia Trionfale" ( 00:00 )
DON CARLO - "O don fatale" ( 01:03 )
IL TROVATORE - "Il balen del suo sorriso" ( 05:26 )
IL TROVATORE - "Vedi! Le fosche notturne spoglie" (Coro delle zingare) ( 11:23 )
LA FORZA DEL DESTINO - "Son Pereda son ricco d'onore"  ( 14:19 )
LA TRAVIATA - "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" ( 16:59 )
LA TRAVIATA - "Un dì felice, eterea" ( 20:09 )
MACBETH - "Che faceste, dite su" (Coro delle streghe) ( 22:50 )
NABUCCO - "Va Pensiero" ( 26:22 )
NABUCCO - "Gli arredi festivi" ( 31:05 )
RIGOLETTO - "Cortigiani, vil razza dannata"  ( 37:00 )
RIGOLETTO - "La donna è mobile" ( 41:39 )
UN BALLO IN MASCHERA - "Morrò, ma prima in grazia" ( 43:51 ) 

The best opera arias
1. Roberto Cresca - Tosca: "E lucevan le stelle" (Mario Cavaradossi) 00:00
2. Laura Calletti - La bohème: "Sì, mi chiamano Mimì" (Mimì) 03:12
3. Paola Roncolato - Il trovatore: "Stride la vampa!" (Azucena) 08:01
4. Roberto Cresca - L'arlesiana: "Lamento di Federico. "È la solita storia"" (Federico) 10:34
5. Laura Calletti - Turandot: "Tu che di gel sei cinta" (Liù) 15:38
6. Paola Roncolato - L'italiana in Algeri: "Cruda sorte" (Isabella)  18:24
7. Roberto Cresca - Rigoletto: "La donna è mobile" (Duca di Mantova)  23:09
8. Laura Calletti - Otello: "Ave Maria" (Desdemona) 25:24
9. Laura Calletti - Carmen: "Habanera. "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"" (Carmen) 31:33
10. Roberto Cresca - Turandot: "Nessun dorma" (Calaf) 35:41
11. Laura Calletti - Gianni Schicchi: "O mio babbino caro" (Lauretta) 39:00
12. Paola Roncolato - Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: "Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix" (Dalila) 41:15

2 Hours of Best Opera Pieces for Relaxing - Classical Music  - Mozart, Puccini, Verdi etc
1) Puccini: TURANDOT - Nessun Dorma performed by Mario del Monaco  00:00
2) Bellini: NORMA - Casta Diva perfermed by Maria Callas  3:02
3) Verdi: RIGOLETTO - La Donna è Mobile performed by Enrico Caruso 9:45
4) Puccini: MADAME BUTTERFLY - Un Bel Dì Vedremo performed by Renata Tebaldi 11:58
5) Rossini: IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA  - Largo al factotum 16:49
6) Mozart: DIE ZAUBERFLOTE, K 620 21:10
7) Bizet: CARMEN -  Suite No. 1, Prelude- Act 1 23:48
8) Verdi : AIDA - Act II, Marcia Trionfale 27:25
9) Tchaikovsky: SWAN LAKE, Op. 20 29:06
10 )Mozart: MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, Ouverture 36:33
11) Puccini: TOSCA - E Lucevan le Stelle 40:50
12) Leoncavallo: PAGLIACCI - Recitar! Mentre Preso dal Delirio 48:05
13) Puccini: LA BOHEME - Che Gelida Manina 48:51
14) Verdi: OTELLO - Piangea Cantando 53:09
15) Verdi: NABUCCO - Va Pensiero,  Il Coro Degli Schiavi Ebrei 1:02:04
16) Wagner: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE - Mild Und Leise Wie Er Lächelt 1:06:46
17) Puccini: TOSCA - Recondita Armonia 1:12:36
18) Mozart: COSI' FAN TUTTE - Act 1 - Un'aura Amorosa del Nostro Tesoro 1:15:11
19) Mozart: DIE ZAUBERFLOTE  - Act 2. O Isis Und Osiris 1:19:47
20) Mozart: DON GIOVANNI - Deh vieni alla finestra 1:25:27
21) Donizetti: LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR: Secen 1 - Act II 1:27:10
22) Puccini: TOSCA - Act II, Scene X, Aria - Vissi d'Arte 1:32:51
23) Giordano: ANDREA CHENIER - La Mammma Morta 1:35:46
24) Mozart: DON GIOVANNI - Act 1 - La Ci Darem la Mano  1:41:50
25) Mozart: DIE ZAUBERFLOTE - Act 2. Der Hölle Rache 1:45:34
26) Leoncavallo: PAGLIACCI - Vesti la Giubba 1:49:31
27) Puccini: LA BOHEME-  Sì, Mi chiamano Mimi 1:52:13
28) Mascagni: CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA - Intermezzo  1:58:00
29) Stravinsky: PULCINELLA - Suite 1 Overture 2:01:26

Opera Arias: Maria Callas & Luciano Pavarotti

1 TACEA LA NOTTE PLACIDA from Il trovatore (Verdi) 00:00
2 CASTA DIVA from Norma (Bellini) 06:02
3 CARO NOME from Rigoletto (Verdi) 11:17
4 SON VERGINE VEZZOSA from I Puritani (Bellini) 18:02
5 VISSI D’ARTE from Tosca (Puccini) 21:43
6 GIASON! DEI TUOI FIGLI LA MADRE from Medea (Cherubini) 24:58
7 AH, FORSE È LUI. SEMPRE LIBERA from La Traviata (Verdi) 32:24 
8 UN BEL DÌ VEDREMO from Madama Butterfly (Puccini) 40:43
9 SICILIANA from I Vespri Siciliani (Verdi) 45:13
10 SÌ, MI CHIAMANO MIMÌ from La Bohème (Puccini) 49:11
11 OH MIO BABBINO CARO from Gianni Schicchi (Puccini) 53:59
12 UNA VOCE POCO FA from Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini) 56:32
13 ADDIO DEL PASSATO from La Traviata (Verdi) 1:03:22
14 SUICIDIO! from La Gioconda (Ponchielli) 1:06:49 
15 SPARGI D'AMARO PIANTO from Lucia di Lammermoor 1:11:24
16 IN QUELLE TRINE MORBIDE from Manon Lescaut (Puccini)  1:15:34


Orchestre De Paris, Leone Megiera (Live In Paris)
17 NESSUN DORMA from Turandot (Puccini) 1:18:21
18 E LUCEVAN LE STELLE from Tosca (Puccini) 1:20:59
19 VESTI LA GIUBBA from Pagliacci (Leoncavallo) 1:23:36
20 QUANDO LE SERE AL PLACIDO from Luisa Miller (Verdi) 1:26:13
22 O PARADIS SORTI DE L’ONDE from L’Africaine (Meyerbeer) 1:39:40
23 LA MIA LETIZIA INFONDERE from I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata (Verdi) 1:42:35
24 POURQUOI ME RÉVEILLER from Werther (Massenet) 1:44:45
25 RECONDITA ARMONIA from Tosca (Puccini) 1:47:17
26 MATTINATA (Leoncavallo) 1:49:48
27 LA GIROMETTA (Sibella) 1:51:40
28 NON TI SCORDAR DI ME! (De Curtis) 1:53:41
29 TRA VOI, BELLE, BRUNE E BIONDE from Manon Lescaut (Puccini) 1:56:52
30 DONNA NON VIDI MAI from Manon Lescaut (Puccini) 1:58:24
31 OUVERTURE from Guglielmo Tell (Rossini) 2:00:44
32 O’ SOLE MIO (Di Capua) 2:11:55
33 FANTAISIE BRILLANTE sur Carmen (Bizet) 2:14:35

34 OH CASA MIA, MIA PATRIA from Medea (Cherubini) Joseph Karpeta 2:21:01
35 EI VIENE from Maruzza (Floridia) Natalia Margarit 2:22:23
36 LA PACE DI MERCURIO from La Pace di Mercurio (Traetta) Patrizia Chiti 2:25:39
37 CONDOTTA ELL’ERA IN CEPPI from Il Trovatore (Verdi) Patrizia Chiti 2:34:32
38 O’ DON FATAL from Don Carlos (Verdi) Patrizia Chiti 2:40:07
39 O MIO FERNANDO from La Favorita (Donizetti) Patrizia Chiti 2:45:50
40 SALGO GIÀ DAL TRONO AURATO from Nabucco (Verdi) Natalia Margarit 2:56:23
41 MA DALL’ARIDO STELO DIVULSA from Un Ballo in Maschera (Verdi) Natalia Margarit 2:58:08
42 O CIELI AZZURRI… O DOLCI AURE NATIVE from Aida (Verdi) Natalia Margarit 3:02:43
43 PACE, PACE, MIO DIO! from La Forza del Destino (Verdi) Natalia Margarit 3:09:05
44 TU, TU, PICCOLO IDDIO from Madama Butterfly (Puccini) Natalia Margarit 3:15:18
45 SIGNORE, ASCOLTA from Turandot (Puccini) Maria Callas 3:17:42
46 IVI IL SOSPIR – PER BALZE from I Lituani (Ponchielli) Natalia Margarit 3:20:10
47 6 ROMANZE: NO. 6, BRINDISI (Verdi) Gianfranco Pappalardo Fiumara, Luisa Pappalardo 3:24:42
48 15 COMPOSIZIONI DA CAMERA: NO. 9, VAGA LUNA CHE INARGENTI (Bellini) Gianfranco Pappalardo Fiumara, Luisa Pappalardo 3:26:35
49 IN QUESTA REGGIA from Turandot (Puccini) Natalia Margarit 3:29:08
17 DEH, PER PIETÀ… O SANTA VERGINE from I Promessi Sposi (Ponchielli) Natalia Margarit 3:34:52


01 Rigoletto: La Donna È Mobile (Verdi) 00:00
Giuseppe di Stefano, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Tullio Serafin (1956)
02 Don Giovanni: Madamina il Catalogo è questo (Mozart) 02:29
Otto Edelmann, Orchestra Filarmonica di Vienna, Wilhelm Furtwangler (1954)
03 I Puritani: Son Vergin Vezzosa (Bellini) 08:40
Maria Callas (1953)
04 Turandot: Nessun Dorma (Vincerò) (Puccini) 12:21
Mario del Monaco (1948)
05 I Pagliacci: Vesti la Giubba (Leoncavallo) 15:21
Giuseppe di Stefano, Maria Callas, Tito Gobbi, Rolando Panerai, Nicola Monti
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Tullio Serafin (1954)
06 Don Giovanni: Là Ci Darem la Mano (Mozart) 18:42
Cesare Serpi, Erna Berger, Orchestra Filarmonica di Vienna, Coro dell’Opera di Stato di Vienna, Wilhelm Furtwangler (1954)
07 Gianni Schicchi: O Mio Babbino Caro (Puccini) 22:19
Maria Callas, Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai, Tullio Serafin (1955)
08 Rigoletto: Caro Nome (Verdi) 24:50
Maria Callas, Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Tullio Serafin (1956)
09 Tosca: E Lucevan le Stelle (Puccini) 31:33
Luciano Pavarotti, Orchestre de Paris, Leone Megiera (1993)
10 Aida: Celeste Aida (Verdi) 34:11
Mario del Monaco (1954)
11 Tosca: Vissi d’Arte (Puccini) 37:24
Maria Callas, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Victor de Sabata (1953)
12 La Traviata: Addio del Passato (Verdi) 40:39
Maria Callas, Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai, Gabriele Santini (1952)
13 Tosca: Recondita Armonia (Puccini) 44:06
Luciano Pavarotti, Orchestre de Paris, Leone Megiera (1993)
14 Lucia di Lammermoor: Spargi d’Amaro Pianto (Donizetti) 46:38
Maria Callas, Giuseppe del Monaco, Orchestra Sinfonica RIAS di Berlino, Herbert von Karajan (1955)
15 La Boheme: Sì, Mi Chiamano Mimì (Puccini) 50:44
Maria Callas, Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai, Tullio Serafin (1953)
16 Carmen: Chanson Boheme (instrumental) (Bizet) 55:31
Orchestra Sinfonica Moldava, Silvano Frontalini
17 La Traviata: Sempre Libera (Verdi) 1:00:32
Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Carlo Maria, Giulini (1955)
18 Le Nozze di Figaro: Non Più Andrai, Farfallone Amoroso (Mozart) 1:04:30
Orchestra Sinfonica Moldava, Silvano Frontalini
19 Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Una Voce Poco Fa (Rossini) 1:07:48
Maria Callas, Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai, Gabriele Santini (1955)
20 Carmen Suite No. 1: Les Dragons d’Alcala (Bizet) 1:14:38
21 Carmen Suite No. 1: Les Toreadors (Bizet) 1:16:05
Metamorphose String Orchestra, Pavel Lyubomudrov
22 Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Ouverture (Rossini) 1:18:08
Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina, Giuseppe Lanzetta
23 Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute): Ouverture (Mozart) 1:25:04
Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Alexandr Tracz
24 I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata: La Mia Letizia Infondere (Verdi) 1:32:15
Luciano Pavarotti, Orchestre de Paris, Leone Megiera (1993)
25 Norma: Casta Diva (Bellini) 1:34:26
Maria Callas, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Antonino Votto (1955)
26 Il Trovatore: Tacea la Notte Placida (Verdi) 1:39:41
Maria Callas, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Antonino Votto (1953)
27 Il Trovatore: Il Balen del Suo Sorriso (Verdi) 1:45:43
Ettore Bastianini, Orchestra sinfonica e coro di Milano della Radiotelevisione Italiana, Direttore: Carlo Maria Giulini, Maestro del Coro: Roberto Benaglio (1956)
28 Don Giovanni: Fin C’han del Vino (Mozart) 1:48:36
Cesare Siepi, Orchestra Filarmonica di Vienna, Wilhelm Furtwangler (1954)
29 La Traviata: Libiamo Libiamo Ne’ Lieti Calici (Verdi) 1:50:18
Renata Tebaldi, Giacinto Prandelli, Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Milano della Radiotelevisione Italiana, Carlo Maria Giulini (1956)
30 Cavalleria Rusticana: Viva il Vino Spumeggiante (Mascagni) 1:53:33
Giuseppe di Stefano, Giulietta Simionato, Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Antonino Votto (1955)

The operas mentioned thus far were produced, in part, by and for an aristocratic avant-garde, or for the enrichment of ducal celebrations, particularly weddings. It was in Venice, an oligarchic republic built on trade, that the first commercial, public opera house was opened in 1637. Several changes accompanied the transformation of a courtly entertainment to a business venture. Spectacular stage effects—flying machines, ships crossing the stage, scenic transformations—were still important but were not always as lavish as in courtly entertainments. Librettos were often constructed to make use of stock scenic devices, and comic scenes were regularly incorporated. Choruses were de-emphasized, and recitative tended to be more formulaic. Arias, on the other hand, of which there might be 30 or more in an opera after mid-century, began to undergo a fuller musical development, tending toward standardized forms such as ABB and, by the final decades of the century, the da capo aria, which would remain dominant through much of the 18th century. The leading composers of public opera in Venice initially were Claudio Monteverdi, his student Pier Francesco Cavalli, and a younger contemporary, Pietro Antonio Cesti. Of the several works Monteverdi wrote for Venice, two have survived, II ritorno d’Ulisse (1640) and L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642). In an operatic career that spanned some 30 years, Cavalli produced 42 operas, 27 of which have been preserved. Cesti’s operas were produced not only in Venice, but also in the Hapsburg courts at Innsbruck and Vienna. Prominent through the 1680s was Giovanni Legrenzi.

The sources of French opera can be found in several indigenous French dramatic genres—tragedy, ballet, and pastorale—reshaped under the impact of Italian opera. The librettos of French opera were taken seriously as literature and judged by standards similar to those of spoken tragedy. Ballet de cour, a courtly entertainment involving dance, song, prose recitation, and costume, had enjoyed not only the support but the active participation of French royalty and nobility. Ballet was an important part of serious French opera from its beginnings through the 19th century. Also important were works in the pastoral tradition, such as Michel de la Guerre’s Le triomphe de l'Amour (1654) and a work simply called La pastorale (or La pastorale d’Issy), on the basis of which its librettist, Pierre Perrin, received the permission of Louis XIV to form an Academy of Opera. Italian opera was most enthusiastically supported and encouraged in Paris by Cardinal Mazarin, Richelieu’s successor. Between 1645 and 1662, the year of Mazarin’s death, Italian operas by Cavalli, Luigi Rossi, Francesco Sacrati, and Carlo Caproli were performed at court.

The most significant figures for the creation and standardization of French opera (called tragedie en musique or tragedie lyrique) were the composer Jean-Baptiste Lully and the librettist Phillipe Quinault. Lully produced 15 operas between 1672 and 1686, all but three in collaboration with Quinault. These operas are typically in five acts (a form taken over from the theater) with subjects based on classical or chivalric stories. They begin with an ^overture in two or more parts, the first stately with dotted rhythms, the second lively and imitative. There follows a prologue in which mythical or allegorical characters, who normally make no further appearance in the opera, make flattering references or allusions to the king, his court, and his policies. Lully was unwilling to allow the text to be undermined by the music. The alternation of word-dominated recitative and music-dominated arias, so serviceable for Lully’s Italian contemporaries, was not a pattern he found useful; French recitative and airs did not contrast so strongly with one another. Instead, choruses, ballets, and instrumental pieces, often grouped in divertissements, were the pieces in which purely musical expansion was likely to take place.

Lully’s operas remained in the repertory of the Academie de musique and continued to be performed well into the 18th century. His principal successors were Andre Campra, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, and Andre Destouches. Their works show a lessening of the importance of a central dramatic idea, manifested in an increased use of more or less irrelevant dances and divertissements. Still more loosely organized is the opera-ballet, in which each act contains a separate set of characters. Italian influence on French opera after Lully is seen in the appearance of vocally ornate da capo arias called ariettes. The culminating master of tragedie-lyrique and opera-ballet was Rameau. In his works (from Hippolyte et Aricie, 1733, his first tragedie, to Zoroastre, 1749, his last to be performed), complex harmony and rich orchestration seem to threaten the balance between music and text so much admired in Lully.

Many 17th-century English musicians and writers were aware of operatic developments in Italy and France, and every now and again an attempt would be made at producing an English variety of opera. In 1617, Ben Jonson’s Lovers Made Men “was sung after the Italian manner, stylo recitativo, by Master Nicholas Lanier,” but its music is not extant. The Siege of Rhodes (1654) is another work in which all of the dialogue was set as recitative; the music, by Henry Lawes, Matthew Locke, and others, is also lost. John Blow’s Venus and Adonis (ca. 1684) is often cited as a significant influence on Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (1689, libretto by Nahum Tate), arguably the greatest English opera until the 20th century. Both works are on a small scale (performance of either would take approximately an hour) but give masterful examples of the use of music to establish character and to underscore intense emotion. These works remained more or less isolated experiments. In general, English audiences preferred either operas that were entirely foreign, that is, set to non-English texts by non-English composers, or dramatic works in which the music was clearly subsidiary or at most separate but equal. Purcell’s Dioclesian (1690), King Arthur (1691), and The Fairy Queen (1692), sometimes called semi-operas, show a close relation to the masque in that the music is used more for decorative than for dramatic purposes.

Rinuccini’s Dafne, translated into German by Martin Opitz and set to music by Heinrich Schutz, was performed in Torgau in 1627 for the wedding of the Landgrave of Hesse with the sister of the Elector of Saxony. This, so far as is known, was the first German opera, though its music is lost. German-speaking lands, however, in the midst of the Thirty Years War, were not a likely locale for the development of a new and lavish art form. After the middle of the 17th century, Italian opera was performed at court in Dresden, Munich, Hanover, and Dusseldorf, as well as in Innsbruck and Vienna.

Hamburg, a commercial port-city sometimes called the Venice of the north, attempted commercial opera starting in 1678 with the opening of the Theater am Gansemarkt. Performances were most often in German, but performances of Italian, French, and polyglot opera (part German, part Italian) were also given. Handel was briefly associated with opera in Hamburg, but the towering figure of Hamburg opera was Reinhard Keiser, who combined the roles of director and manager of the theater with that of its chief composer, writing well over 100 operas in 40 years (1694-1734). His works show a blending of Italian, French, and German stylistic features, French influence emerging most clearly in the overtures and dances.

II. 18th century

Just as the earliest operas received intellectual impetus from a group of aristocrats and artists, toward the end of the 17th century a similarly composed group of Roman aristocrats and writers, calling themselves the Arcadian Academy, sought to ennoble and purify the exuberantly popular art form opera had become. For ideals they turned to the theories of Aristotle; for models they turned to the French classical theater of Corneille and Racine. The most important authors of the newly reformed librettos, the librettos of opera seria, were Apostolo Zeno and his successor as Caesarean poet for the Hapsburg court, Pietro Metastasio. A Metastasian libretto is typically in three acts with each act divided into numerous (from 10 to 20) scenes, a scene being defined by the entrance or exit of a character. There are usually six characters, one or two of whom may be confidants; the remaining characters are connected to one another by links of love, friendship, family ties, or political obligation, any or all of which may be in conflict. The subject matter may be drawn from classical history (the sources cited include Plutarch, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Livy) or from legend. Comic elements are purged from the libretto as being inappropriate to the generally noble tone. The happy resolution of the drama, the lieto fine, reaffirmed for the audiences the value of moral and virtuous behavior. Opera seria in the 18th century marks the point of greatest importance and influence of the librettist. Each of Metastasio’s librettos was set dozens of times; there are 27 opera seria librettos by Metastasio and hundreds of Metastasian operas. The words were enduring—they were published and were meant to be read and enjoyed as literature. The musical settings, on the other hand, were transitory.


Opera seria is dominated by the da capo aria. The importance of the aria is a reflection of the significance of the virtuoso singer, particularly the castrato. The heroic roles of opera seria were written for soprano or alto castrati, or for women playing male roles. Ensembles are rare, and the brief homo-phonic chorus with which an opera may close is often musically negligible. Except for the overture, the instrumental role is largely accompanimental. Most of the text of the libretto is set as simple, continuo-ac-companied recitative (recitativo semplice). Recitative accompanied by strings or other instrumental groupings (recitativo stromentato, accompagnato, or obbligato) is reserved for the most dramatic moments and the most important characters in the opera. Although opera seria used Italian texts, the musical style was international. That is, the composers, performers, and audiences were drawn from all locations in Europe with the exception of France, which maintained its own national style of opera.

The composers of 18th-century Italian opera were strikingly prolific. Alessandro Scarlatti, who made important contributions to the development and expansion of the aria, composed approximately 115 operas between about 1680 and 1720, of which some 50 are extant. Among the most important composers in the generation following Scarlatti are Leonardo Vinci (40 operas), Leonardo Leo (ca. 60 operas), Francesco Feo (14 operas), Nicola Porpora (44 operas), and Antonio Vivaldi (ca. 46 operas, 21 extant). For many of Italy’s most prominent opera composers of the 18th century, Naples was an important center of activity, Handel, a German composer writing Italian operas for an English audience in London, exemplifies the international aspects of opera seria. That he was active away from the mainstream did not prevent him from producing some of the finest examples of the genre (e.g., Giulio Cesare in Egitto, 1724).

The middle of the 18th century saw a trend toward greater musical expansion with the appearance of longer, more richly accompanied arias. Johann Adolf Hasse, active at the court at Dresden and one of Metastasio’s preferred composers, was widely admired. At the same time, serious opera underwent certain changes that tended to increase its dramatic component. The major composers in this operatic reform, Niccolo Jommelli, Tommaso Traetta, and Gluck, brought about a certain rapprochement of Viennese, French, and Italian operatic traditions. This led to a reduction in importance of the aria as a static, purely lyrical entity and an increase in importance of accompanied recitative, of choruses, and of instrumental writing—both in the accompaniments of arias and in separate instrumental pieces; there was also greater flexibility in the formal construction of arias. Gluck’s prominence as a reformer is due in part to his operas Orfeo ed Euridice (Vienna, 1762) and Alceste (Vienna, 1767) and in part to his statements on reform, most notably his preface to Alceste (trans. in SR, pp. 673-75), in which he declares that he has “striven to restrict music to its true office of serving poetry by means of expression” and that he believes that his “greatest labor should be devoted to seeking a beautiful simplicity.” Gluck’s last operas were written for performance in Paris. They include Iphigenie en Aulide (1774), Armide (1777), and Iphigenie en Tauride (1779), as well as French versions of Orfeo and Alceste.

The 18th century also saw the vigorous development of comic opera. This development was enhanced and accelerated by the expulsion of comic scenes from serious opera. Comic scenes, such as scenes with comic servants, were found in operas before the middle of the 17th century and were also a feature of entertainment provided between the acts of operas. By the end of the 17th century, such scenes had begun to decline in number and were often placed at the ends of acts. The reforms of this period leading to opera seria removed the comic scenes altogether, confining them to independent works termed intermezzi that were played between the acts of serious operas. Additional sources for comic opera included spoken comedy, which yielded stock situations and characters. Comic opera in dialect was first heard in Naples in the first decade of the 18th century, and this repertoire, featuring larger casts than those used in intermezzi, also contributed to the development of opera buffa. In comic operas of the 18th century, distinct musical procedures emerged that point the way from Baroque style to Classical. The weaving of a musical fabric based on short motives that could be easily repeated or interrupted gave music a flexibility more suitable to comedy. Unlike serious opera, comic opera made considerable use of duets, trios, quartets, and larger ensembles, particularly as finales of acts.

Several national varieties of comic opera arose. Italian opera buffa, French opera comique, English ballad opera, and German Singspiel have in common that they were in the language of the audience and were popular, commercial works in the sense that they were supported by a largely anonymous audience rather than a specific, known patron. Opera comique, Singspiel, and ballad opera are alike in their alternation of musical numbers with spoken dialogue; opera buffa continued to set dialogue as recitative. Comic opera also tended to shed mythological distancing and use contemporary, plebeian characters. An exception to this is Singspiel, which showed a preference for exotic, oriental, or fantastic settings.

Mozart’s operatic production includes three genres—opera seria, opera buffa, and Singspiel—and brings each to unique heights. Idomeneo (1781) and La clemenza di Tito (1791) are both examples of opera seria, composed for courtly occasions. La clemenza di Tito is a setting of a much-adapted Metastasian libretto. Mozart’s three mature opere buffe, Le nozze di Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787, a work with more serious overtones), and Cosi fan tutte (1790), are notable for the subtlety and penetration of characterization, the integration of vocal and instrumental factors, and the adaptation of classical symphonic style in their ensemble finales. Mozart’s final opera, Die Zauberfiote, is a Singspiel that fuses the most diverse musical and dramatic features.

III. 19th century

French opera, at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, responded to the cataclysmic social and political changes taking place in that country. The Opera (Academie royale de musique, descended from Perrin’s academy), previously supported by royal and aristocratic patronage, was largely neglected, while opera comique increased in importance. At the same time opera comique changed significantly in character; lightheartedness and naive charm were replaced by moral earnestness and explorations of the darker sides of human personality. Rescue opera came into vogue at this time. Characteristic examples are Jean-Franijois Le Sueur’s La caverne (1793; heroine rescued from bandits in a cave) and Cherubini’s Les deuxjournees (1800; hero saved from unjust arrest). During Napoleon’s reign, the Opera resumed an important role, producing heroic and grandiose works such as Gaspare Spontini’s La vestale (1807) and Fernand Cortez (1809). At this time Paris could boast three major active opera houses, one producing grand opera (the Opera), one opera comique (the Opera-comique), and one Italian opera (the Theatre italien).


Grand opera, as it developed in the second and third quarters of the 19th century, produced significant works in its own right and influenced the course of Italian and German opera as well. Initiated by Rossini’s Le siege de Corinthe (1826) and Guillaume Tell (1829) and Daniel-Frangois-Esprit Auber’s La muette de Portici (1828), grand opera reached its apex in the collaborations of Meyerbeer and the librettist Eugene Scribe—Robert le diable (1831), Les Huguenots (1836), Le prophete (1849), and L’africaine (1865). These works derive their energy from large-scale conflicts—not just of individuals but of whole national or religious groups—that are frozen at climactic moments into striking, massed tableaux in which all possible aural and visual forces—soloists, chorus, orchestra, ballet, costumes, scenery—contribute to achieve a maximum effect.

Somewhere between the Opera and Opera-comique, and a rival to both, was the Theatre lyrique, which, in the 21 or so years between its founding and its failure in 1870, produced such works as Gounod’s Faust (1859) and Romeo et Juliette (1867), Bizet’s Les pecheurs de perles (1863) and La jolie fille de Perth (1867), and a portion of Berlioz’s Les troyens (1863). The term lyric opera, though frequently used, does not indicate a distinct genre, though the works given at the Theatre lyrique (despite the example of Les troyens) were generally smaller in scale and more intimate in style than grand opera.

The dominating figure in Italian opera at the beginning of the 19th century was Rossini—the “Napoleon of music.” Rossini’s best-known works are the comic opera II barbiere di Siviglia (Rome, 1816) and the grand opera Guillaume Tell (Paris, 1829). Although he retired from operatic production early (in 1829, at the age of 36), he remained the model for a succeeding generation of composers, and his works formed the prototype by which theirs were judged. Rossini was influential in matters of orchestration—use of woodwinds, on-stage bands, repetitive orchestral figures— and in the construction of formal designs for solos, duets, and ensembles. The most important composers of Italian opera of the 1830s were Bellini (La sonnambula, 1830; Norma, 1831) and Donizetti (L'elisir d’amore, 1832; Lucia di Lammermoor, 1836). In the works of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, several significant trends emerge. One is the development of a new set of character stereotypes based on vocal types. The heroic voice became the tenor (rather than the alto or soprano as it had been in 18th-century opera seria)\ the baritone became the rival in love, the villain, or sometimes a father or older adviser. Another trend is the increasing sombemess of plots. Tragic endings replaced happy ones in serious operas; comic operas represented the smaller share of Rossini’s output and were composed less and less frequently after the first third of the century. Furthermore, the aria, with introductory scena, became longer, incorporating more and more action; a leading character was likely to have no more than one aria in an act.

After 1840, Italian opera was dominated by the work of Verdi. From the start of his career, Verdi’s operas were associated in the public’s mind with hopes for the unification and independence of Italy—an association that Verdi fostered with stirring settings of librettos dealing with the struggle against personal or national oppression. Verdi’s early operas are notable for their directness of expression, their rhythmic vitality, and their tendency to favor confrontational duets (rather than arias) at dramatic high points. Vital to this new conception was the emergence of the Verdian baritone, a voice type often set against the hero (tenor) or heroine (soprano). Rigoletto (1851), Il trovatore (1853), and La traviata (1853) mark Verdi’s full maturity and assured his lasting international reputation. Later works such as Don Carlos (1867) and Aida (1871) show the important influence of grand opera. The last operas, Otello (1887) and FaIstaff (1893), often singled out for their musico-dramatic continuity, have a chromatically expanded harmonic palette and a new subtlety of scoring, but nevertheless remain essentially true to the Italian tradition.

Among the composers of operas on German texts at the beginning of the 19th century were Beethoven, Spohr, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Weber, and Heinrich August Marschner. On the whole, they preferred a form that alternated spoken dialogue with set numbers, that is, Singspiel. A solution to the problem of writing convincing recitative to a German text largely evaded composers until Wagner, who, with characteristic boldness, restructured both the texts and the music. The librettos of the operas of this period show Romantic features such as an interest in folk elements, an emphasis on nature as it impinges on man or anthro-pomorphically reflects his state of mind, and the intrusion of the supernatural upon the everyday world. Examples are Hoffmann’s Undine (1816), Spohr’s Faust (1816), Weber’s Der Freischutz (1821), and Marschner’s Der Vampyr (1828).

Although Wagner, especially in his early years, was very much an eclectic, borrowing ideas, themes, and visual impressions wherever he found them, his operas nevertheless represent a new era. The musical changes that Wagner’s style underwent in the course of his career were fundamental and radical, leaving no element—rhythm, melody, harmony, counterpoint, tone color, form—unaltered. One category of changes worked in the direction of avoiding small musical units; ends of phrases were obscured by eschewing conventional cadences, and arias and ensembles were merged into the flow of action or replaced by expressive arioso. With Der fliegende Hollander (1843) and Das Rheingold (1869), Wagner experimented with merging the acts into one continuous unit, the opera; with Der Ring des Nibelungen (first performed complete in 1876), he suggested that even the single opera was too small a unit, the complete work being no less than a cycle of four operas. As a means of organizing his new structures, Wagner developed the very flexible use of the Leitmotif.

Wagner’s mature works may be divided into Romantic operas—Der fliegende Hollander, Tannhauser (1845, revised 1861 and 1865), Lohengrin (1850)—and music dramas—Das Rheingold, Die Walkiire, Siegfried, Gotterddmmerung, Tristan und Isolde (1865), Die Meistersinger (1868), and Parsifal (1882). In these works, Wagner recognized that the apposite subject matter for his operas was legend and myth, subjects that simultaneously emphasized the national (German and Nordic) in their settings and the universal in their issues.

One result of 19th-century nationalism was the appearance of operas using a broader range of languages and musical idioms, particularly in eastern Europe. Most notable among Polish operas was Stanislaw Moniuszko’s Halka (revised version, 1858); popular Hungarian works were Ferenc Erkel’s Hunyadi Laszlo (1844) and Bank ban (1861). A more significant 19th-century school of opera developed in Czechoslovakia with the works of Smetana (The Bartered Bride, 1866; Dalibor, 1868) and Dvorak (Rusalka, 1901).

Even more important was the development of opera in Russia. The first of the Russian operatic composers to achieve resounding fame in Russia (and international recognition as well) was Mikhail Glinka. He composed only two operas, A Life for the Tsar (1836) and 
Ruslan and Lyudmila (1842), but with these two he explored the wellsprings of Russian nationalist opera: patriotic subjects drawn from earlier Russian history and Russian myth, and legend or fairy tale, particularly as told by the great poet Pushkin. A concern for apt Russian declamation was the overriding musical concern of Glinka’s younger contemporary Alexander Dargomizhsky, and perhaps for that very reason, his last opera, The Stone Guest (first performed posthumously in 1872), based on a story by Pushkin, is of more theoretical than musical interest.

In the second half of the 19th century, Russian opera followed two courses. The self-proclaimed nationalistic manner was pursued by Borodin, Musorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Of this group, only Rimsky-Korsakov was a professional musician, and it was he who completed, revised, and reorchestrated the works of the other two. He composed more than a dozen operas, of which The Golden Cockerel (1909) is perhaps the best known. The Russian opera that has achieved the most enduring international fame is Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov (1874). The operas of Tchaikovsky were not so overtly nationalistic, although some, such as Eugen Onegin (1879) and The Queen of Spades (1890), made use of texts by Pushkin.


IV. 20th century

Opera in the period since the death of Wagner has exhibited abundant diversity in terms of subject matter, musical styles, philosophical viewpoints, and social aims. Contributing to this diversity was the influence of a number of different artistic and literary movements such as naturalism, impressionism, surrealism, and symbolism. The first operatic masterpiece of the 20th century was Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande (1902), a setting of Maurice Maeterlinck’s symbolist play. Notable for its sensitive declamation, emotional reticence, psychological penetration, delicacy of scoring, and evocative atmosphere, it was the only opera Debussy completed.


In Germany, as elsewhere in Europe, Wagner’s operas had profound influence but few true successors. Richard Strauss was greeted as Wagner’s heir apparent after Salome (1905) and Elektra (1909), but his later works—Der  Rosenkavalier (1911), Ariadne auf Naxos (1916), Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919), Arabella (1933)—did not pursue the same paths of intense chromaticism and emotionalism. The operas composed in Italy at the turn of the century maintained clear links with the Romantic tradition. The verismo movement helped launch the careers of Mascagni (Cavalleria rusticana, 1890) and Leoncavallo (Pagliacci, 1892) and also had an effect on some of Puccini’s operas such as Tosca (1900) and II tabarro (1918), Many of Puccini’s works—e.g., La boheme (1896) and Madama Butterfly (1904)—have enjoyed enduring success.

Composers from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Russia produced works that not only are of interest as examples of nationalistic impulses but that are of absolute value in the international repertory. Among these works are Janacek’s Kat'a Kabanova (1921), The Cunning Little Vixen (1924), and The Makropoulos Case (1926); Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges (1921) and War and Peace (1945-55); Shostakovich’s The Nose (1930) and Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1934, revised 1963); Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle (1918); and Kodaly’s Hary Janos (1926). England has experienced a significant operatic renaissance through the works of BrittenPeter Grimes (1945), Billy Budd (1951), The Turn of the Screw (1954), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960), and Death in Venice (1973)—and TippettThe Midsummer Marriage (1952), The Knot Garden (1969), and The Ice Break (1976).

Various musical trends that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s affected the operas written then and in successive decades. Jazz was reflected in some operas composed after World War I, notably Krenek’s Jonny spielt auf (1927) and Weill’s Die Dreigroschenoper (1928) and Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (1930), the latter two works written in collaboration with Bertolt Brecht and reflecting his ideas of Epic Theater. Two American operas that make use of jazz are Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha (1911-15) and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (1935). Operas in which the organizing powers of tonality are either severely challenged or else replaced by the twelve-tone system are Berg’s Wozzeck (1925) and Lulu (1937) and Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron (first staged performance in 1957). Serial writing is also important in Dallapiccola’s Volo di notte (1940), II prigioniero (1950), and Ulisse (1968), and in Sessions’s Montezuma (1964). More widely performed, however, have been some operas that follow more traditional lines, including works of Menotti (The Medium, 1945; The Consul, 1949; Amahl and the Night Visitors, 1951) and others.

The most frequently performed neoclassical opera is Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (1951). Among more recent innovative works are two operas by minimalist composer Philip Glass, Einstein on the Beach (1975) and Satya-graha (1980), and Saint Frangois d'Assise: Scenes franciscaines (1983), a late work by Olivier Messiaen.


Opera-ballet [Fr.]. A musico-dramatic form that flourished in France starting in the late 17th century. The principal composers were Campra, Mouret, and Monteclair. The genre makes use of musical types found in ballet (instrumental pieces, dances) and in opera (recitatives, arias, choruses), but the dramatic premise linking the musical numbers is likely to be tenuous. 

Opera bouffe [Fr.]. A type of French comic opera. The term was used by Offenbach starting in 1858 with Orphee aux enfers, a work that had its premiere at the Bouffes Parisiens.

Opera buffa [It.]. Comic opera.

Opera comique [Fr.].

(1) An opera on a French text with musical numbers separated by spoken dialogue. In the 18th century, the treatment of the subject matter of an opera comique was likely to be lighthearted or sentimental. In the 19th century, opera comique plots incorporated serious or tragic events. In such works, e.g., Bizet’s Carmen, the adjective comique is divorced from the notion of the comic or humorous and refers only to the presence of spoken dialogue. See Opera II.

(2) Opera-comique. The company established by the French government in Paris in 1801 for the purpose of producing opera comique. It was formed from two earlier companies, one with an intermittent history dating to 1715, at times known by this name. It occupied a succession of different theaters, the Salle Favart being the one most closely associated with it and providing the name (since 1976) for its descendant.

Opera semiseria [It.]. An operatic genre, arising in the second half of the 18th century, in which both comic and serious elements are present. An opera semiseria is likely to have ornate arias, such as would not be out of place in opera seria, as well as ensemble finales more characteristic of opera buffa. The genesis of opera semiseria may be seen in part as a conflation of Italian comic and serious opera, but also as a result of the sentimentalizing influence of the comedie larmoyante and later of rescue opera on comic opera.

Opera seria [It.]. A form of opera prevalent through the 18th century. Set to Italian librettos, notably those of Apostolo Zeno and Pietro Metastasio, operas of this type were composed by Italians, Austrians, and Germans and were performed in all the major countries of Europe with the exception of France. The characters of opera seria are usually drawn from ancient history. The drama is often one of making the morally right choice rather than a drama of action. An opera seria is generally in three acts. Its basic musical components are simple recitative and da capo exit arias—perhaps 25 in the course of an opera. In the second half of the 18th century, orchestrally accompanied recitative, ensembles, and sometimes choruses and ballets were found more frequently in opera seria. The term was also used early in the 19th century for some works by composers such as Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti.

Opera arias - Anna Netrebko, Jonas Kaufmann, Erwin Schrott, 2011, conductor Marco Armiliato

The best opera arias

00:00:01 Mozart - Dies Bildnis Ist Bezaubernd Schon ( The Magic Flute )
00:03:52 Bizet - Carmen ( Habanera ) 
00:08:32 Verdi - La traviata ( E' strano ) 
00:17:23 Donizetti - Don Pasquale ( Quel guardo il cavaliere )
00:22:50 Donizetti - Elisir D'Amore (Una furtiva lacrima ) 
00:27:40 Mozart - Il Flauto Magico
00:30:40 Mozart - Così fan tutte 
00:34:21 Donizetti - Elisir D'Amore ( Quanto è bella quanto è cara ) 
00:36:47 Weber - Oberon 
00:39:55 Rossini - Il barbiere di Siviglia ( Una voce poco fa ) 
00:46:36 Weber - Oberon ( Ozean ) 
00:54:42 Verdi - Othello ( credo ) 
00:59:17 Verdi - Aida ( Qui Radames verrà ) 
01:05:48 Verdi - Don Carlos ( O Don Fatale ) 
01:10:48 Verdi - Il Trovatore ( Stride la vampa ) 
01:12:22 Rossini - Guglielo Tell ( Aria des Arnold ) 
01:18:44 Mozart - Cara se le mie pene 
01:28:52 Verdi - La traviata ( Di Provenza al mare )
01:33:14 Rossini - Stabat Mater ( Cuius Amaiman) 
01:39:22 Thomas - Mignon 
01:45:30 Verdi - Aida ( Celeste Aida ) 
01:48:49 Verdi - Il Trovatore ( Tacea la notte placida ) 
01:53:45 Verdi - Rigoletto ( La donna è mobile ) 
01:56:13 Mozart - Don Giovanni ( batti batti o bel maestro ) 
01:59:40 Mozart - Don Giovanni ( Vedrai, carino ) 
02:03:11 Verdi - Il trovatore ( All'erta all'erta ) 
02:07:50 Wagner - Tristano e Isotta 
02:19:00 Verdi - Otello 
02:31:22 Puccini - Madama Butterfly ( Un Bel Di Vedremo ) 
02:35:57 Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro ( Voi Che Sapete - Parigi Amor )
02:42:56 Bellini - Norma ( Casta Diva )
02:48:26 Puccini - Tosca ( E Lucevan Le Stelle )
02:51:16 Leoncavallo - Pagliacci ( Recitar...Vesti La Giubba )
02:54:57 Puccini - La Bohème ( Si Mi Chiamano Mimi )
02:59:47 Deliber - Lakmè ( Ou Va La Jeune Hindoue?)
03:06:13 Offenbach - Les Contes D'Hoffmann  (Les Oiseaux Dans La Chamille )
03:11:58 Puccini - Turandot ( Signore Ascolta )
03:14:32 Puccini - Manon Lescaut ( In Quelle Trine Morbide )

Non Stop Mix | Total Running Time 3:16:50



In the 17th and 18th centuries, an operatic work of small scale and pretensions, one that could equally well be classified as intermezzo, opera buffa, opera comique, or Singspiel. Starting in the middle of the 19th century, operetta developed as a distinct genre, first in France and then in the Austro-Hungarian empire, Germany, England, and the U.S. Operetta is an essentially popular form of entertainment made up of spoken dialogue, song, and dance, whose tone may range from sentimental comedy, through satire and parody, to outright farce.

The originator of the modem operetta is Jacques Offenbach. He composed over 90 works in one, two, three, or four acts; some of these, starting with Orphee aux enfers (1858), are designated as operas bouffes and have a pronounced satirical strain. The success of Offenbach’s operettas in Vienna provided the impetus for the composition of similar works first by Franz von Suppe and later by Johann Strauss the younger. Strauss composed about 16 operettas, mostly in three acts, the most successful of which is Die Fledermaus (1873). The distinctive flavor of Viennese operettas comes, in part, from their invigorating waltz-rhythm and polka-rhythm numbers. After Strauss, the Viennese tradition was continued in Franz Lehar’s Die lustige Witwe (1905). A characteristically English form of operetta was developed by Gilbert and Sullivan. Sullivan's musical style, occasionally parodistic but more often simply eclectic, complemented Gilbert’s witty social satire. They produced 14 works together between 1871 and 1896 and also some works with other collaborators.

The operettas perfomied in the U.S. in the 19th century were mainly importations from Europe or imitations of such works. Victor Herbert, Rudolf Friml, and Sigmund Romberg, all European born and trained, perpetuated the genre in the first two decades of the 20th century. Some of the staged works by Gershwin, such as Of Thee I Sing (1931), could be termed operettas.

By the 1920s and 1930s, the terms musical comedy, musical drama, or simply musical came to be preferred to operetta, although it is debatable whether the new terms indicate new genres. 

The Best Operetta Arias
00:00:00 Veronique - De Ci,De Là
00:02:11 Monsieur Beaucaire - La Rose Rouge
00:05:58 Les Cloches De Corneville - Digue, Digue, Don 
00:09:12 Tom Jones - Waltz Song
00:12:25 Merrie England - Dan Cupid Hath A Garden
00:14:53 The Pitares Of Penzance
00:17:42 Die Lustige Witwe - O Vaterland...Da Geh Ich Zu Maxim
00:20:35 Giuditta - Meine Lippen, Sie Kussen So Heiss
00:25:37 Paganini - Ger Hab' Ich Die Frau'n GekuBt
00:29:07 Der Obersteiger - Sei Nich Bos'
00:33:39 Das Land Des Lachelns - Dein Is Mein Ganzes Herz!
00:37:35 Die Dubarry - Ish Schenk' Mein Herz
00:41:04 The Arcadians - The Pipes Of Pan
00:43:42 Naughty Marietta - Ah! Sweet Mystery Of Life
00:45:52 The Belle Of New York - She Is Belle Of New York 
00:48:09 Veronique - Poussez, Poussez L'Escarpolette
00:52:23 La Fille De Madame Angot - Jadis, Les Rois
00:55:23 Les Mousquetaires Au Couvent - Je Suis L'Abbè Bridaine
00:58:06 Bitter Sweet - I'll See You Again
01:01:55 Glamorous Night - Fold Your Wings
01:06:54 Dona Francisquita - Cuando Un Hombre Se Quiere Casar
01:09:48 El Nino Judio - De Espana Vengo
01:14:33 Die Fledermaus - Mein Herr Marquis
01:18:04 Def Graf Von Luxembur - Sie GethLinks, Er Geht Rechts - Bits Du's Lachendes Gluck
01:20:49 Die Lustige Witwe - Es Lebt' Eine Vilja
01:26:30 Der Zigeunerbaron - Als Flotter Geist ... Ja, Das Alles Auf Ehr'
01:29:11 Ciboulette - Nous Avons Fait Un Beau Voyage
01:31:40 Orphèè Aux Enfers - Pour Seduire Alcmène La Fière
01:33:27 La Vie Perisienne - Je Suis Veuve D'Un Colonel
01:36:23 La Vie Perisienne - C'Est Ici L'Endroit Redoutè Des Mères
01:39:49 Casanova - O Madonna...O Marie, Wie Entfielh
01:43:44 Drei Alte Schachtein - Ein Marchengluck, Ein Sommertraum
01:48:49 Boccaccio - Florenz Hat Schone Frauen
01:53:58 La Taberna Del Puerto - No Puerde Ser
01:56:36 Dona Francisquita - Coro De Romanticos
02:01:38 Gygantes Y Cabezudos - Romanza De Pilar

The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan),
recorded in 1966

The Mikado: Donald Adams
Ko Ko: John Reed
Nanki Poo: Philip Potter
Yum Yum: Valerie Masterson
Pooh Ba: Kenneth Sandford
Pish Tush: Thomas Lawlor
Pitti Sing: Peggy Ann Jones
katisha: Christene Palmer
Peeo Bo: Pauline Wales
Conductor: Isodore Godfrey


A popular form of 20th-century musical theater. Related to operetta, comic opera, revue, and other earlier forms of staged musical entertainment, its main development has taken place in England and the U.S. In structure the musical comedy resembles the European operetta, with spoken dialogue developing dramatic situations that call for song, ensemble numbers, and dance. Musical styles and subjects vary in their connections with the popular music and social concerns of the day.

In the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, England in the latter half of the 19th century could boast a body of indigenous comic opera to stand beside the operettas of Offenbach in Paris and Johann Strauss in Vienna. It also could claim a corps of well-trained composers, and from their ranks came Sidney Jones, who wrote the music for George Edwardes’s production of A Gaiety Girl (1893), the first stage work to be labeled musical comedy. Its female glamour, matrimonial plot, fashionable costumes, and lively tunes proved a successful blend, and for years to come these ingredients were remixed and combined with others on the London stage.

New York could also claim by the 1890s a busy musical stage stocked chiefly from overseas. In 1904, however, Little Johnny Jones by Rhode Island-bom George M. Cohan (1878-1942), with its patriotic entrance song, “The Yankee Doodle Boy,” served notice that a vein of American expression less elaborate than the operettas of Victor Herbert and John Philip Sousa was there to be tapped. As author of the show’s book, lyrics, and songs, as well as its director and singing and dancing star, Cohan was more a performer-songwriter than a composer. In the next decade Jerome Kem (1885-1945) emerged as a full-fledged American-born theater composer whose works—or shows —made a mark in both London and New York.

By the 1920s, creative leadership in musical comedy had passed to America, where shows generally took one of two forms: the integrated type, in which musical numbers furthered plot and character development, and the song-and-dance type, in which the power and appeal of individual numbers outweighed their dramatic function.

The first type, pioneered by Kem and his collaborators at the Princess Theater (1915-18), was continued in Show Boat (1927), by Kem and Oscar Hammerstein (1895-1960); Of Thee I Sing (1931), by George (1898-1937) and Ira Gershwin (1896-1983); and a series of landmark shows by Richard Rodgers (1902-79) and Hammerstein, from Oklahoma! (1943) to The Sound of Music (1959).

The second type, combining up-to-date romance with down-to-earth (sometimes clever) lyrics and a jazz-tinged musical idiom, flourished in shows like Lady, Be Good (Gershwin and Gershwin, 1924); Good News (1927), by the team of Henderson, Brown, and DeSylva; and Anything Goes (1934), by Cole Porter (1891-1964). Both types transferred well to the screen when, in the late 1920s, Hollywood began to make sound movies. Moreover, both fed into the world of popular song, with numbers circulating on recordings, radio, and eventually television and with performances by singers and instrumentalists in a wide range of styles, from jazz-based to symphonic.


After World War II, American dominance continued in such shows as Guys and Dolls (1950, Loesser), My Fair Lady (1956, Lemer and Loewe), West Side Story (1957, Leonard Bernstein and Sondheim), Fiddler on the Roof (1964, Bock and Hamick), Company (1970, music and lyrics both by Stephen Sondheim, b. 1930), A Chorus Line (1975, Hamlisch and Kleban), and La Cage aux Folles (1983, Herman). Together with a turn toward contemporary problems, the later shows in this group, written after rock and roll seized dominance in the popular music scene, parted company with reigning popular idioms and no longer supplied songs for that arena.

Nevertheless, shows like Hair (1967; MacDermott, Ragni, and Rado), dubbed “the American tribal love-rock musical,” and Jesus Christ Super-star (1971, Andrew Lloyd Webber, b. 1948, and Tim Rice, b. 1944) brought rock idioms to the musical comedy stage with commercial success, opening the way for more such endeavors.


Two recent trends seem noteworthy, and one is the revival. Written for the commercial marketplace of their own day, most of the shows named here have shown a continuing appeal in successful revivals since the early 1980s. The other is the London stage’s return to international prominence, especially in the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber, who emphasized dance and experimental staging in Cats (1981) and melodramatic spectacle in Phantom of the Opera (1986). Cats now stands as the longest-running show ever on both the London and the New York stages.

Franz Lehár "Das Land des Lächelns"
Lisa: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Gustl: Erich Kunz
Prince Sou-Chong: Nicolai Gedda
Mi: Emmy Loose
Tschang: Otakar Kraus

Franz Lehár "Das Land des Lächelns"
Romantic operetta in three acts
Libretto by Ludwig Herzer and Fritz Löhner-Beda
Philharmonia Chorus
Philarmonia Orchestra
Conductor: Otto Ackermann
recorded 1953

Kiri Te Kanawa & Jeremy Irons -
Frederick Loewe - 'My Fair Lady' in Concert

My Fair Lady is a musical based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins, a phoneticist, so that she may pass as a lady. The original Broadway and London shows starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews.


Meine Lippen sie küssen so heiß. Anna Netrebko.
From the operetta Giuditta, composed by Franz Lehar

The Leading Ladies - Full Concert - 09/28/98 - Carnegie Hall 
0:00:00 - The Kind Of Beauty That Drives A Man Mad -Tony Roberts and Robert Morse
0:04:37 - Welcome Skit - Julie Andrews
0:06:39 - Nowadays - Karen Ziemba & Bebe Neuwirth
0:10:50 - Hot Honey Rag - Karen Ziemba & Bebe Neuwirth
0:13:17 - Adelaide's Lament - Faith Prince
0:16:56 - Don't Rain On My Parade - Judy Kuhn
0:20:04 - Life Upon The Wicked Stage - Anna Kendrick & The Kit Kat Girls
0:24:18 - If He Walked Into My Life - Jennifer Holliday
0:29:21 - Nothing - Priscilla Lopez
0:34:02 - Could I Leave You - Dee Hoty
0:37:32 - I Can Cook Too - Lea DeLaria
0:41:16 - Look For The Silver Lining / Tomorrow - Andrea McArdle
0:45:08 - Down With Love - Audra McDonald
0:48:50 - Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered - Marin Mazzie
0:53:23 - Liza With A 'Z' - Rosie McDonald
0:56:51 - Sing Happy - Liza Minelli
1:00:22 - Some People - Liza Minelli
1:04:47 - Orchestral Break
1:09:38 - I Wanna Be A Rockette - Karen Ziemba and the Rockettes
1:16:10 - Falling In Love With Love - Rebecca Luker
1:20:03 - Someone Like You - Linda Eder
1:24:35 - Man Of La Mancha - Linda Eder
1:28:02 - Love Changes Everything - Audra McDonald
1:35:18 - Everybody's Girl - Debra Monk
1:40:03 - Ain't Misbehavin' - Nell Carter & Luther Henderson (piano)
1:41:23 - Mean To Me - Nell Carter & Luther Henderson(piano)
1:44:31 - I'm Going Back - Faith Prince
1:48:32 - Fifty Percent - Dorothy Loudon
1:54:36 - I Never Said I Love You - Audra McDonald
1:58:04 - And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going - Jennifer Holliday
2:02:56 - The Ladies Who Lunch - Elaine Stritch
2:08:07 - One (finale) - The Ladies Of Broadway


Webber - Don't Cry For Me Argentina - Evita

Mamma Mia

00:00:00 Honey, Honey
00:03:02 Money, Money, Money
00:06:06 Mamma Mia!
00:09:38 Dancing Queen
00:13:43 Our Last Summer
00:16:39 Lay All Your Love On Me
00:21:05 Super Trouper
00:24:58 Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
00:28:48 Name Of The Game
00:33:38 Voulez-Vous 
00:38:11 SOS
00:41:28 Does Your Mother Know
00:44:30 Slipping Through My Fingers
00:48:19 The Winner Takes It All
00:53:16 When All Is Said And Done
00:56:33 Take A Chance On Me
01:00:30 I Have A Dream
01:05:23 Thank You For The Music


Mamma Mia! (promoted as Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus' Mamma Mia!) is a jukebox musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, and based on the songs of ABBA, composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. 

Richard Rodgers - THE SOUND OF MUSIC - 1965 

 Michel Legrand - Les Parapluies de Cherbourg - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg 

John Kander - Cabaret - Life is a Cabaret

Notre Dame de Paris 1999

Notre-Dame de Paris is a sung-through French and Québécois musical which debuted on 16 September 1998 in Paris. It is based upon the novel Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) by the French novelist Victor Hugo. The music was composed by Riccardo Cocciante (also known as Richard Cocciante) and the lyrics are by Luc Plamondon.

Notre Dame de Paris - Belle, the original cast
(Garou, Daniel, Patric)

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