List of Most Popular Operas by Select Composers

The following list of opera composers by no means includes all those who have written operas since the little group of Florentine noblemen in the sixteenth century made the first attempt to revive the Greek drama.

Only those composers have been selected who made their impression on the age in which they lived, and in whom the modern opera lover has some reason to be interested. The opera chosen as representative of each composer by no means represents that composer at his best in a strictly musical sense. It is the opera which is most closely associated with its composer in the popular estimation.

For instance, out of all the Wagner operas, the one best know to the general public is Tannhauser. For one person who could give you the “sword motive” from Die Walkure, probably a hundred could whistle Star of Eve from Tannhauser.

Similarly there are thousands who are familiar with the Miserere from Verdi’s Il Trovatore who are not aware of the existence of Otello or Aida, though most cultivated musicians hold these latter works in far higher esteem.

ComposerBorn/DiedBirthplaceMost Popular OperaWhere ProducedYear Produced
Adam, A. C.1803-1856FranceLe Postillon de LongjumeauParis1836
d’Albert D.1864-1932ScotlandIm TieflandPrague1903
Auber, D. F-E1782-1871FranceFra DiavoloParis1830
Audran, E.1842-1901FranceLa MascotteLondon1880
Balfe, M. W.1808-1870IrelandBohemian GirlLondon1843
Beethoven, L. V.1770-1827GermanyFidelioVienna1805
Bellini, V.1801-1835SicilyNormaMilan1831
Berlioz, H.1803-1869FranceBenvenuto CelliniParis1838
Bizet, G.1838-1875FranceCarmenParis1875
Boieldieu, F. A.1775-1834FranceLa Dame BlancheParis1825
Boito, A.1842-1918ItalyMefistofeleMilan1868
Caccini, G.1558-1618ItalyDafneFlorence1594
Cellier, A.1844-1891EnglandDorothyLondon1885
Charpentier, G.1860-1956FranceLouiseParis1900
Cherubini, M. L.1760-1842ItalyThe Water CarrierParis1800
Converse, F. S.1871-1940U.S.A.Pipe of DesireBoston1906
Cornelius, P.1824-1874GermanyThe Barber of BagdadWeimar1858
Damrosch, W. J.1862-1950GermanyThe Scarlet LetterBoston1896
Debussy, A. C.1862-1918FrancePelleas et MelisandeParis1902
Delibes, C. P. L.1836-1891FranceLakmeParis1883
Donizetti, G.1797-1848ItalyLucia di LammermoorNaples1863
Flotow, F. V.1812-1883GermanyMarthaVienna1847
Glinka, M. I.1804-1857RussiaA Life for the CzarSt. Petersburg1836
Gluck, C. W.1714-1787GermanyIphigenie en AulideParis1779
Goldmark, C1830-1915AustriaDie Koenigen von SabaVienna1875
Gounod, C1818-1893FranceFaustParis1859
Gretry, A. E. M.1751-1813BelgiumRichard, Coeur de LionParis1784
Halevy, J. F.1799-1862FranceLa JuiveParis1835
Handel, G. F.1685-1759GermanyRinaldoLondon1710
Herbert, V.1859-1924IrelandNatomaPhiladelphia1910
Herold, L. J. F.1791-1833FranceZampaParis1831
Humperdinck, E.1854-1921GermanyHansel and GretelWeimar1893
Leoncavallo, R.1857-1919ItalyI PagliacciMilan1892
Lortzing, G. A.1801-1851GermanyCzar and CarpenterLeipzig1837
Lully, J. B. de1633-1687ItalyArmide et RenaudParis1686
Marschner, H. A.1795-1861GermanyHans HeilingHanover1833
Mascagni, P.1863-1945ItalyCavalleria RusticanaRome1890
Massenet, J. E. F.1842-1912FranceThaisParis1894
Mehul, E. N.1763-1817FranceJosephParis1807
Mercadante, F.1795-1870ItalyIl GiruamentoMilan1837
Messager, A.1853-1929FranceVeroniqueParis1898
Meyerbeer, G.1791-1864GermanyLes HuguenotsParis1836
Monteverde, C. G. A.1567-1643ItalyOrfeoMantua1608
Mozart, W. A.1756-1791GermanyDon GiovanniPrague1787
Nevin, A. F.1871-1943U.S.A.PoiaPittsburg1907
Nicolai, O.1810-1849GermanyMerry Wives of WindsorBerlin1849
Offenbach, J.1819-1880GermanyTales of HoffmannParis1880
Parker, H. W.1863-1919U.S.A.MonaNew York1912
Peri, J.1560-1633ItalyEuridiceFlorence1600
Piccini, N.1728-1800ItalyIphigenie en TaurideParis1781
Planquette, D.1848-1903FranceChimes of NormandyParis1877
Ponchielli, A.1834-1886ItalyLa GiocondaMilan1876
Puccini, G.1858-1924ItalyMadame ButterflyMilan1904
Purcell, H.1658-1695EnglandKing ArthurLondon1691
Rameau, J. P.1683-1764FranceCastor et PolluxParis1737
Rossini, G. A.1792-1868ItalyWilliam TellParis1829
Saint-Saens, C. C.1835-1921FranceSamson and DelilahWeimar1877
Smetana, F.1824-1884BohemiaThe Bartered BridePrague1866
Spontini, G. L. P.1774-1851ItalyLa VestaleParis1807
Strauss, J. (Jr.)1825-1899AustriaDie FledermausVienna1874
Strauss, R.1864-1949GermanySalomeDresden1905
Sullivan, A. S.1842-1900EnglandThe MikadoLondon1885
Tschaikowski, P. I.1840-1893RussiaEugen OneginMoscow1879
Thomas, A.1811-1896GermanyMignonParis1866
Verdi, F. G.1813-1901ItalyIl TravatoreRome1853
Wagner, R.1813-1883GermanyTannhauserDresden1845
Weber, C. M. von1786-1826GermanyDer FreischutzDresden1821