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Thread: List of 100 greatest operas

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default List of 100 greatest operas

    I found this list in the Internet, supposedly ranked "for their innovation and influence, as well as their aesthetic importance, historical significance and lasting popularity."

    Question 1: Do you agree? Which ones are overrated, underrated, or missing, in your opinion?

    Question 2: How many of these have you seen/heard?

    1. Der Ring des Nibelungen – Richard Wagner
    2. Tristan Und Isolde – Richard Wagner
    3. Don Giovanni – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    4. Otello – Giuseppe Verdi
    5. The Marriage of Figaro – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    6. Aida – Giuseppe Verdi
    7. La Boheme – Giacomo Puccini
    8. Madame Butterfly – Giacomo Puccini
    9. Der Rosenkavalier – Richard Strauss
    10. Parsifal – Richard Wagner
    11. Boris Godunov – Modest Mussorgsky
    12. La Traviata – Giuseppe Verdi
    13. Carmen – Georges Bizet
    14. Die Meistersinger – Richard Wagner
    15. The Magic Flute – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    16. Tosca – Giacomo Puccini
    17. Falstaff – Giuseppe Verdi
    18. Rigoletto – Giuseppe Verdi
    19. The Barber Of Seville – Gioacchino Rossini
    20. Cavalleria Rusticana – Pietro Mascagni
    21. Il Trovatore – Giuseppe Verdi
    22. Turandot – Giacomo Puccini
    23. Faust – Charles Gounod
    24. Lohengrin – Richard Wagner
    25. Peter Grimes – Benjamin Britten
    26. Norma – Vincenzo Bellini
    27. Tannhauser – Richard Wagner
    28. I Pagliacci – Rugierro Leoncavallo
    29. Pelleas and Mellisande – Claude Debussy
    30. Porgy & Bess – George Gershwin
    31. Lucia Di Lammermoor – Gaetano Donizetti
    32. Les Troyens – Hector Berlioz
    33. Elektra – Richard Strauss
    34. Cosi Fan Tutte – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    35. Fidelio – Ludwig Van Beethoven
    36. Eugene Onegin – Peter Illitch Tchaikovsky
    37. La Gioconda – Amiliare Ponchielli
    38. Wozzeck – Alban Berg
    39. Incoronazione di Poppea – Claudio Monteverdi
    40. Salome – Richard Strauss
    41. Dido and Aneas – Henry Purcell
    42. The Cunning Little Vixen – Leos Janacek
    43. Orpheus and Eurydice – Christoph Willibald Gluck
    44. Don Carlos – Giuseppe Verdi
    45. Orfeo – Claudio Monteverdi
    46. Der Freischutz – Carl Maria von Weber
    47. Samson and Delilah – Camille Saint-Saens
    48. Tales of Hoffman – Jacques Offenbach
    49. Hansel and Gretel – Engelbert Humperdink
    50. The Flying Dutchman – Richard Wagner
    51. The Rake's Progress – Igor Stravinsky
    52. Manon – Jules Massenet
    53. The Bartered Bride – Bedrich Smetana
    54. The Huguenots – Giacomo Meyerbeer
    55. La Forza Del Destino – Giuseppe Verdi
    56. Manon Lescaut – Giacomo Puccini
    57. Ariadne auf Naxos – Richard Strauss
    58. Romeo and Juliet – Charles Gounod
    59. L'Elisir D'Amore – Gaetano Donizetti
    60. Lakme – Leo Delibes
    61. Andre Chenier – Umberto Giordano
    62. Werther – Jules Massenet
    63. Don Pasquale – Gaetano Donizetti
    64. Jenufa – Leos Janacek
    65. The Girl of the Golden West – Giacomo Puccini
    66. La Sonnambula – Vincenzo Bellini
    67. Turn of the Screw – Benjamin Britten
    68. Duke Bluebeard's Castle – Bela Bartok
    69. William Tell – Gioacchino Rossini
    70. The Masked Ball – Giuseppe Verdi
    71. Julius Caesar – Georg Friedrich Handel
    72. La Serva Padrona – Giovanni Pergolesi
    73. Die Tote Stadt – Erich Wolfgang Korngold
    74. Louise – Gustave Charpentier
    75. Mefistofele – Arrigo Boito
    76. I Puritani – Vincenzo Bellini
    77. Semiramide – Gioacchino Rossini
    78. L'Africaine – Giacomo Meyerbeer
    79. Castor et Pollux – Jean-Philippe Rameau
    80. La Cenerentola – Gioacchino Rossini
    81. Pique Dame – Peter Illitch Tchaikovsky
    82. Billy Budd – Benjamin Britten
    83. La Fille du Regiment – Gaetano Donizetti
    84. Le Prophete – Giacomo Meyerbeer
    85. Le Coq D'or – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff
    86. McBeth – Giuseppe Verdi
    87. Les Pecheurs des Perles – Georges Bizet
    88. The Pilgrim's Progress – Ralph Vaughan Williams
    89. Ernani – Giuseppe Verdi
    90. Gianni Schicchi – Giacomo Puccini
    91. Beatrice et Benedict – Hector Berlioz
    92. Simon Boccanegra – Giuseppe Verdi
    93. Prince Igor – Alexander Borodin
    94. Nabucco – Giuseppe Verdi
    95. The Abduction from the Seraglio – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    96. Euryanthe – Carl Maria von Weber
    97. Dialogues des Carmelites – Frances Poulenc
    98. Atys – Jean-Baptiste Lully
    99. Thais – Jules Massenet
    100. Martha – Friederich von Flotow


    My answers:

    Question 1 - Rameau's Les Boreades and Les Indes Galantes, and Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust (although some won't consider it an opera) in my opinion should be there. I consider Rossini's Il Turco in Italia as good or better than some of his more famous works. Donizetti's serious operas only got a nod in Lucia, then we have three of his comedies, but I'd still include some others of his serious operas such as Roberto Devereux (maybe his most melodious work) and Maria Stuarda.

    I believe Meyerbeer is overrated with three works (although I'm judging him over the one work of his I've seen, Les Huguenots, which I didn't particularly like), while Offenbach is underrated with only one work, considering that Orfιe aux Enfers, La Belle Hιlθne, and La Vie Parisienne are all fine works - but their absence may be explained by the fact that they don't seem to have considered operettas (which explains the absence of Die Fledermaus and Die lustige Witwe - but I wouldn't dismiss these works just because they are operettas, they're as good or better than many operas).

    While I recognize Boris Godunov's importance, I like Khovanshchina better. Same with Wozzeck and Lulu, the former is indeed more important, but I like the latter better.

    Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is another notable absence, as well as Ravel's L'Heure Espagnole and L'Enfant et les Sortilθges.

    But the biggest dirty shame of this list is the fact that they only quote *one* work by Handel! There's a long list of Handel operas that could perfectly be there.

    In terms of position in the ranking, I'd rank Les Troyens, Euryanthe, Macbeth, and Les Pκcheurs de Perles higher, and would downgrade Faust. And it is kind of funny to say you rank operas according to historical importance, innovation, etc, and place Gluck's Orphιe at 43 while Gounod's Faust is 23rd.

    Question 2 - I've seen 70, and of the remainder 30, 8 are sitting on my unwatched pile or I have tickets to see them this season, and 22 are yet to be purchased or ticketed. These 22 are (I obviously need to watch the two Richard Strauss works as soon as possible; Janacek is a big gap in my exposure; Andrea Chenier is another glaring deficiency, and it's a shame that I haven't seen the most important opera of my own country, Porgy & Bess):

    30. Porgy & Bess – George Gershwin

    33. Elektra – Richard Strauss

    41. Dido and Aneas – Henry Purcell

    42. The Cunning Little Vixen – Leos Janacek

    50. The Flying Dutchman – Richard Wagner

    53. The Bartered Bride – Bedrich Smetana

    57. Ariadne auf Naxos – Richard Strauss

    61. Andrea Chenier – Umberto Giordano

    64. Jenufa – Leos Janacek

    69. William Tell – Gioacchino Rossini

    72. La Serva Padrona – Giovanni Pergolesi

    73. Die Tote Stadt – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

    74. Louise – Gustave Charpentier

    75. Mefistofele – Arrigo Boito

    78. L'Africaine – Giacomo Meyerbeer

    84. Le Prophete – Giacomo Meyerbeer

    85. Le Coq D'or – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff

    88. The Pilgrim's Progress – Ralph Vaughan Williams

    89. Ernani – Giuseppe Verdi

    93. Prince Igor – Alexander Borodin

    98. Atys – Jean-Baptiste Lully

    100. Martha – Friederich von Flotow
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Would've love to have seen Adam's Nixon in China just for a little modern entry, although it pales in comparison to that list unfortunately.
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    The Metropolitan Opera is doing Nixon in China this season with the composer conducting,and it will be one of the HD broadcasts and later come out on DVD. I saw the world premiere performance by the Houston opera on PBS back in the 80s.
    Actually,I think the underrated Death of Klinghoffer is a greater opera. Some have dismissed it altogether and wrongly cliamed that it's anti-semitic, but having followed the libretto in the booklet of the recording,I don't consider it anti-semitic in the least.
    Doctor Atomic is also a great opera,and available on DVD.

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    This is definitely an intellectual / acedemic ranking trying to subjectively rank "importance" of an opera

    A list of most performed or popular operas would look very different and not have 4 Wagner entries in top 15 and Boris Godunov at 11

    Many of the fun operas get little respect here......

    And as you noted severe disrespect to any baroque opera works

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    Pretty safe list. Light on Dvorak, Smetana, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Glinka and Gluck. I would probably not include Rusticana, Gioconda, Samson, Hansel, Pearl Fishers, Thais or Pilgrim's Progress in my top 100.

    Peter Grimes, Mefistofele, Fidelio and Don Carlo(s) track in much higher for me.

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    Nix
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    I'm guessing you got the list from digitaldreamdoor.com? Those lists are really only good for amateur classical listeners looking for where to start- and thus do not include much modern or baroque (besides Bach), since that generally turns a lot of listeners off.

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    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    Woah, there are that many operas?
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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nix View Post
    I'm guessing you got the list from digitaldreamdoor.com? Those lists are really only good for amateur classical listeners looking for where to start- and thus do not include much modern or baroque (besides Bach), since that generally turns a lot of listeners off.
    Yes, that's where I got it from, but independently of the source, the list is a good conversation starter; that's why I started the thread. And yes, this would explain it being so thin in Handel and Rameau. In terms of modern operas, they do have a few there, but don't have others, which is an interesting point - it is often hard for me to judge modern operas when compared to the baroque, classical, and romantic ones.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    Woah, there are that many operas?
    That many? Well, there are 40,000, so, there are about 39,900 more than these 100.
    Last edited by Almaviva; Oct-24-2010 at 21:39.
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    how the heck is Porgy and Bess rated so highly?

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    This is definitely an intellectual / acedemic ranking trying to subjectively rank "importance" of an opera

    A list of most performed or popular operas would look very different and not have 4 Wagner entries in top 15 and Boris Godunov at 11

    Many of the fun operas get little respect here......

    And as you noted severe disrespect to any baroque opera works
    Yes, I have a list of the twenty most popular/most performed operas in the United States (not world-wide) and it goes like this:

    1.
    Madama Butterfly
    2.
    La bohθme
    3.
    La traviata
    4.
    Carmen
    5.
    The Barber of Seville
    6.
    The Marriage of Figaro
    7.
    Don Giovanni
    8.
    Tosca
    9.
    Rigoletto
    10.
    The Magic Flute
    11.
    La Cenerentola
    12.
    Turandot
    13.
    Lucia di Lammermoor
    14.
    Pagliacci
    15.
    Cosμ fan tutte
    16.
    Aida
    17.
    Il trovatore
    18.
    Faust
    19.
    Die Fledermaus
    20.
    The Elixir of Love
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rangstrom View Post
    Pretty safe list. Light on Dvorak, Smetana, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Glinka and Gluck. I would probably not include Rusticana, Gioconda, Samson, Hansel, Pearl Fishers, Thais or Pilgrim's Progress in my top 100.

    Peter Grimes, Mefistofele, Fidelio and Don Carlo(s) track in much higher for me.
    You wouldn't include the Pearl Fishers? I find it more beautiful than Carmen. I also think that Cavaleria Rusticana fully belongs there, not only for its beauty, but also for the importance for Verismo. I'm not crazy about Gioconda or Thaοs either.

    I also love Peter Grimes, Fidelio, and Don Carlo(s) and agree that the latter is underrated among other Verdi works. Mefistofele like I said I haven't seen yet.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScipioAfricanus View Post
    how the heck is Porgy and Bess rated so highly?
    Well, I guess it's considered important for being the first highly successful American opera, for having called for an all-black cast, and for its use of American folk music in a way that was considered innovative in the sense that it was merged with European orchestral music. I once saw another list of top 50 operas of all time (written by a Brit critic so it's not American bias) and it did include Porgy and Bess. It's hard for me to say anything more, since I haven't seen it. All I know of it is Summertime and four or five more arias sung by Renιe Fleming and Bryn Terfel in a recital DVD that I have. I must say that with the exception of Summertime, I wasn't very impressed with the other arias, but this may be unfair because isolated pieces often make less sense when they are uncoupled from a complete work so I'm still reserving my opinion until I get to see it.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Any list is never going to totally please - perhaps it should be retitled 'Suggested Listening' rather than '100 Greatest'. I'm a bit miffed that there's no inclusion of Britten's 'Death in Venice' or Krenek's 'Jonny spielt auf'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elgars ghost View Post
    Any list is never going to totally please - perhaps it should be retitled 'Suggested Listening' rather than '100 Greatest'. I'm a bit miffed that there's no inclusion of Britten's 'Death in Venice' or Krenek's 'Jonny spielt auf'.
    Hey, it's marketing strategy. "Suggested Listening" will never get as many hits or buys as "100 Greatest."
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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