Alte oper, the Frankfurt opera house in the Innenstadt

A beginner’s guide to the world’s most famous operas

Opera may be considered old-fashioned by some, but it keeps on evolving. Even now we have contemporary new works that are amazing audiences across the globe. However, there are a few classics that you still find on the production schedule, and this is because they are the most famous operas in the canon. Here we will outline a select few of these operas to give you a foundation on which you can build your future opera knowledge. Once you have picked your next performance you can get tickets at Opera Tickets Italy.

My Favorite Opera House – Vienna

is certainly a matter of taste which of the world’s leading opera houses you consider to be the best. In any case, I am of the opinion and am always happy to be convinced anew that the Vienna State Opera represents the ultimate. 

Not only the magnificent building in a city overflowing with culture and music history, not only the sensational opera orchestra (the Vienna Philharmonic!) and not only the brilliant performances of the world stars of the opera stage, which are many times higher elsewhere (e.g. in the MET in New York).

Get an evening fee, but make regular guest appearances in Vienna out of artistic urge, but also the carefully cultivated ensemble of singers and the extremely ambitious and varied program with one of the longest seasons of all is unparalleled anywhere in the world. 

Fidelio, Tosca, Eugene Onegin, to name just three; all the operas moved me to tears in this house. And – the official prices, even for the best category, are reasonable. In addition, there are extremely cheap standing room tickets for every performance, which allows music students, for example, to experience top-class performances for very little money. 

An absolute must for every stay in Vienna!

La bohème by Giacomo Puccini

You do not have to be an opera expert to have heard of Puccini’s La bohème. It has become one of the world’s most loved operas thanks to frequent performances as well as its penetration into popular culture.

For example, La bohème is the inspiration for Jonathan Larson’s music Rent. It is a story of love at first sight and friendship in hard times but each showing gives the audience something different. Directors are continuing to reimagine the story with new staging and modern interpretations. La bohème would be our top pick for a beginner to help get them into opera.

 Carmen – Georges Bizet

While you have likely heard of the opera Carmen, you are probably even more familiar with it than you realise as it contains some of the most famous opera songs in the world – songs like Habanera and Toreador Song.

The plot of this opera has also done wonders to boost its popularity because it contains everything that makes a good opera! It has passion, drama, and tragedy, the opera trifecta. However, the somewhat controversial and immoral themes broke the typical conventions of French opera at the time which meant it was not well received in 1875 and only became critically acclaimed after Bizet’s death.

Tosca – Puccini

Another Puccini on the list, Tosca is a story set in Rome during the turbulent time following the French invasion and its story reflected the political unrest in Italy at the time – something that caused several delays for the first performances of Tosca. But once it was finally performed for the public, it was an immediate hit and remains so to this day.

La Traviata – Giuseppe Verdi

La Traviata by Verdi is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world, probably because it is one of the best examples of ‘Verismo’ – a style of Italian opera that focuses on realism. Based on a true story, it features a heartbreaking tale of love, family, and honour building up to a climactic ending. It is a unique and immersive experience in which they try to blur the links between the actors and the audience.

The Magic Flute – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

A name we all know, Salzburg born Mozart is one of the most famous composers in the world. If you are a fan of his compositions and music style and are looking to get into opera, then The Magic Flute is perfect for you. It is one of his most frequently performed pieces due to its unique score that evokes mysticism, magic, and the wonder of fairy tales.