We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Timelines in music history: A timeline of opera

6 Oct 1600

Jacopo Peri's opera, Euridice , the earliest to survive complete, is performed at the Pitti Palace in Florence on the occasion of the wedding of Maria de’ Medici and Henri IV of France. Read more...

24 Feb 1607

Claudio Monteverdi's opera, Orfeo, is performed before an exclusive audience at the Ducal palace in Mantua. Read more...

1643

Monteverdi's last opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea is performed at the Teatro SS Giovanni e Paolo, in Venice. Read more...

2 March 1647

Roman composer Luigi Rossi's Italian opera Orfeo, is produced at the French court. In keeping with local style, the opera includes a ballet scene. Read more...

5 Jan 1649

Francesco Cavalli's enormously successful opera Giasone has its première at the Teatro S Cassiano in Venice. Read more...

19 Jan 1674

Jean-Baptiste Lully's Alceste has its première at the Paris Opéra. Read more...

10 Jan 1676

Lully's Atys has its première at St Germain-en-Laye, Paris. Read more...

c1683

John Blow's tragic opera, Venus and Adonis, today considered the first English opera, has its première, either in London or at the court of Windsor. Read more...

15 Feb 1686

Lully's final collaboration with the librettist Quinault, the tragédie lyrique Armide, has its première at the Paris Opéra. Read more...

1689

Henry Purcell composes his opera Dido and Aeneas for performance by the students at a girls' school in Chelsea. Read more...

2 May 1692

Purcell's semi-opera, The Fairy-Queen, adapted from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, has its première at the Queen’s Theatre in London. Read more...

30 Jan 1700

Alessandro Scarlatti's opera L’Eraclea is perfomed at Naples, Teatro S Bartolomeo. In the tradition of earlier, Venetian, opera it mixes comic scenes into the othewise serious story. Read more...

27 April 1720

Radamisto, Handel's first opera for the newly formed Royal Academy of Music has its première in London. Read more...

Jan 1721

A. Scarlatti's, Griselda, has its première at the Teatro Capranica, in Rome. Although very rarely performed today, Scarlatti's operas were enormously popular and influential in their own day. Read more...

13 Feb 1725

Handel's Rodelinda has its première at the King’s Theatre, London. Read more...

19 Jan 1728

The Beggar’s Opera, a ballad opera in three acts, arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch to a libretto by John Gay, takes London by storm. Read more...

5 Sept 1733

G. B. Pergolesi's intermezzo La serva padrona is performed between the acts of his opera seria Il prigioniero superbo at Naples, Teatro S Bartolomeo. La serva padrona was one of the most popular intermezzos in the 18th century and has become the 'textbook' intermezzo familiar to most students of music. Read more...

23 Aug 1735

Première at the Paris Opéra of Jean-Philippe Rameau's opéra-ballet, Les Indes galantes, a fascinating window on 18th century exoticism. Read more...

6 Feb 1760

Niccolò Piccinni's, La buona figliuola has its première at the Teatro delle Dame in Rome. The libretto, by the great Carlo Goldoni, is adapted from Samuel Richardson's hugely popular English novel, Pamela. Read more...

26 Dec 1767

Christoph Willibald Gluck's reform opera Alceste has its première at the Vienna, Burgtheater. Read more...

Sept/Oct 1768

Probable performance of the twelve-year-old Mozart's singspiel Bastien und Bastienne at the home of Dr Franz Anton Mesmer, the inventor of ‘magnetism therapy’, which Mozart would later parody in Così fan tutte. Read more...

1 May 1769

Mozart's first full opera buffa, La finta semplice, to a libretto based on Goldoni is performed at the Archbishop's palace in Salzburg. The day is uncertain but it was probably the first of May. Read more...

26 Dec 1770

Mozart's first opera seria, Mitridate, re di ponte, is a success in Milan despite the composer's youth and the opera's running time of six hours. Read more...

3 Aug 1777

Joseph Haydn's Il mondo della luna has its première at Eszterháza. Haydn's operas were mostly composed to the taste of his employers at Eszterháza. Although they never achieved the international stature of his instrumental works, or of the operas of his younger contemporary Mozart, they have begun to receive more attention in recent years. Read more...

29 Jan 1781

Mozart's first mature opera, Idomeneo has its première in Munich at the Residenztheater. Read more...

16 July 1782

Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail has its première at the Vienna Burgtheater. Read more...

15/26 Sept 1782

Giovanni Paisiello's, Il barbiere di Siviglia has its première at the Hermitage, St Petersburg. Though it would be eclipsed by Rossini's later setting of the same story, the opera was an enormous success at the time. Read more...

26 Feb 1784

Haydn's final opera, Armida has its première at Eszterháza. Read more...

21 Oct 1784

André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry's rescue opera Richard Coeur-de-Lion has its première at the Comédie-Italienne, Paris. Read more...

1 May 1786

Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, the first of his three great collaborations with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, has its première at the Vienna Burgtheater. Read more...

29 Oct 1787

Mozart's Don Giovanni has its première at the National Theatre, Prague. Although the legendary title character serves as the central force of the story, it is the three women, whose lives are altered through their encounters with him, who live in the memory. Read more...

8 Jan 1788

Première of Antonio Salieri's Axur, re d’Ormus to a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. Da Ponte and Salieri are both best known to modern audiences as Mozart's collaborator and competitor, respectively. But in late 18th-century Vienna, both were highly respected artists in their own right, as the contemporary success of this opera shows. Read more...

26 Jan 1790

Mozart's Così fan tutte, which then and now is as irresistable as it is controversial, has its première in Vienna, at the Burgtheater. Read more...

6 Sept 1791

Produced just weeks before his final opera, the more famous Zauberflöte, Mozart's last opera seria, La clemenza di Tito, has its premère at the National Theatre in Prague. Read more...

30 Sept 1791

Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, has its première at the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna. An allegory set in no real locality or historical period, the work was intended by the composer, and by librettist and fellow Freemason Emanuel Schikaneder, as a coded representation of Freemasonry. Read more...

7 Feb 1792

Domenico Cimerosa's Il matrimonio segreto has its première at the Vienna Burgtheater, 7 February 1792. Read more...

20 Nov 1805

Beethoven's only opera, the rescue opera Fidelio, has its premère at the Vienna Theater an der Wien. Read more...

22 May 1813

Gioachino Rossini's L’italiana in Algeri has its premère at Teatro S Benedetto, Venice. Despite an unenthusiastic welcome in Venice, the opera went on to great success and was the first of the composer's operas to be produced in Germany. Read more...

20 Feb 1816

Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, set to the same libretto as Paisiello's opera of 1782, has its première at the Teatro Argentina in Rome. Read more...

25 Jan 1817

Rossini's much loved setting of the Cinderella story, La Cenerentola, has its première at the Teatro Valle in Rome. Read more...

18 June 1821

Carl Maria von Weber's 'magic opera', Der Freischütz, has its première at Berlin, Schauspielhaus. Read more...

27 Oct 1827

Vincenzo Bellini's Il pirata has its première at La Scala, beginning a phenomenally successful six-year collaboration between the composer and librettist Felice Romani. Read more...

3 Aug 1829

Rossini's grand opera, Guillaume Tell, has its première at the Paris Opéra. Read more...

26 Dec 1830

Gaetano Donizetti's Anna Bolena, one of his several operas on subjects from English history, has its première at the Teatro Carcano in Milan. Read more...

26 Dec 1831

Bellini's opera Norma, which includes the great coloratura aria 'Casta diva', has its première at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. Read more...

6 March 1831

Bellini's La somnambula has its première at the Teatro Carcano in Milan. Bellini, who died before his 34th birthday, produced a string of lasting favourites in just nine years from 1827 to 1835. Read more...

21 Nov 1831

Giacomo Meyerbeer's first great success, Robert le diable, has its première at Paris Opéra. Read more...

12 May 1832

Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore has its première in the Teatro Cannobiana, Milan. Read more...

24 Jan 1835

Bellini's final opera, I Puritani, with its now famous 'mad scene', has its première at the Théâtre Italien, Paris. Read more...

26 Sept 1835

Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor has its première at the Teatro S Carlo in Naples. The obbligato accompaniment to the famous mad scene, usually heard on flute and performed on that instrument in the first production, was originally composed for glass harmonica, which contributes to the eery quality of the scene. Read more...

9 Dec 1836

Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka's A Life for the Tsar, considered the first full Russian opera, has its première at the Bol’shoy Theatre in St Petersburg. Read more...

29 Feb 1836

Meyerbeer's grand opera Les Huguenots has its première at the Paris Opéra. Read more...

2 Jan 1843

Der Fliegende Holländer, Richard Wagner's first mature opera, has its première at the Königliches Sächsisches Hoftheater, in Dresden. Read more...

14 March 1847

Première at the Teatro della Pergola, Florence, of Macbeth, the first of Verdi's three great operas based on the plays of Shakespeare. Read more...

11 March 1851

Première at Teatro La Fenice in Venice of Verdi's Rigoletto, based on Victor Hugo's novel Le roi s'amuse. Read more...

6 March 1853

Verdi's La traviata, composed, it seems, in not much more than six weeks, has its première at Teatro La Fenice, Venice. Read more...

19 March 1859

Charles Gounod's most popular opera, Faust, has its première in Paris at the Théâtre Lyrique. Read more...

4 Nov 1863

Première of Hector Berlioz's grand opera Les Troyens at the Théâtre Lyrique, Paris. Read more...

10 June 1865

Wagner's Tristan und Isolde has its première in Munich, at the Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater. Read more...

24 Dec 1871

Verdi's Aida has its première at the newly opened Cairo Opera House. Read more...

5 April 1874

Johann Strauss's light opera, Die Fledermaus has its première at Theater an der Wien, Vienna. Read more...

8 Feb 1874

Modest Musorgsky's Boris Godunov has its première at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. Read more...

3 March 1875

Georges Bizet's Carmen has its première in Paris at the Opéra-Comique. Carmen is arguably the world's best known opera heroine. Read more...

13 Aug 1876

First performance of Wagner’s complete Ring cycle at Bayreuth, 13–17 August 1876. Read more...

23 Jan 1881

Pyotr Il'ych Tchaikovsky's Yevgeny Onegin (Eugene Onegin) has its première at the Malïy Theatre in Moscow. An earlier performance had been given in 1879 by students at the Moscow Conservatory. Read more...

26 July 1882

Wagner's final opera, Parsifal has its première at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. A 30-year embargo placed on performances outside Bayreuth was ignored by a number of opera houses, including the Metropolitan in New York, which staged it for the first time in 1903. Read more...

19 Jan 1884

Première at the Opéra-Comique, Paris, of Jules Massenet's Manon. Read more...

5 Feb 1887

Otello, one of the most universally respected of Verdi’s operas, is premièred at La Scala. Read more...

19 Dec 1890

Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades has its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. Read more...

17 May 1890

Pietro Mascagni's one-act verismo opera, Cavalleria rusticana, has its première at the Teatro Costanzi, Rome. Read more...

21 May 1892

Ruggero Leoncavallo's I pagliacci has its première at the Teatro Dal Verme, Milan. Based, like Cavalleria rusticana, on a true story, Pagliacci was composed with the earlier opera in mind, and the two are linked in modern performance tradition. Read more...

1 Feb 1893

Puccini's Manon Lescaut has its première at La Scala. When his publisher tried to dissuade him from composing an opera on a subject that had already had great success in a treatment by Massenet (see 1884, in this timeline), Puccini is said to have replied 'Why shouldn’t there be two operas about her? A woman like Manon can have more than one lover.’ The opera's success has borne him out. Read more...

9 Feb 1893

Verdi's great comic portrait, Falstaff, has its première. Read more...

1 Feb 1896

Puccini's perennial favourite, La bohème, has its première at the Teatro Regio, Turin. Read more...

14 Jan 1900

Puccini's Tosca has its première at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. The libretto is based on the play of the same name by Victorien Sardou, who created the title character for the great actress Sarah Bernhardt. Read more...

30 April 1902

Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande is given its première at the Opéra-Comique, Paris. Read more...

17 Feb 1904

Puccini's Madama Butterfly has its première at La Scala. Read more...

9 Dec 1905

Richard Strauss’s opera Salome has its première at the Dresden Hofoper. Read more...

11 Nov 1906

Ethel Smyth's opera The Wreckers has its première (in German, as Standrecht) at the Neues Theater, Leipzig. Read more...

25 Jan 1909

R. Strauss's Elektra is premièred at the Dresden Hofoper. Read more...

26 Jan 1911

R. Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier has its première at the Königliches Opernhaus, Dresden. The opera was a favourite of the composer, and its glorious final trio was performed at a memorial service after his death. Read more...

12 June 1917

Hans Pfitzner's opera, Palestrina, a fictional account of the Council of Trent and the composition of Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli, has its première at the Prinzregententheater, Munich. Read more...

23 March 1918

Charles Wakefield Cadman's opera Shanewis has its première at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. The opera is loosely based on the life of the Cherokee/Creek mezzo-soprano Tsianina Redfeather, who advised Cadman on the work. Read more...

24 May 1918

Béla Bartók's opera Bluebeard's Castle has its première at the Opera in Budapest. Read more...

14 Dec 1925

Alban Berg's opera, Wozzeck has its première at the Staatsoper in Berlin. Read more...

25 April 1926

Puccini's final opera, Turandot left incomplete at the composer's death and completed by Franco Alfano, has its première at La Scala under the baton of Toscaninni, who stops the opera at the death of the slave Liù, where Puccini's own completed score ends. Read more...

31 Aug 1928

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's Die Dreigroschenoper opens to great success in Berlin. It would become one of the longest-running musical shows in Broadway history. Read more...

23 Feb 1928

Igor Stravinsky's opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex is given its first performance in an unstaged production at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt, Paris. The first staged performance was at the Vienna Staatsoper on 23 Feb 1928. Read more...

8 Feb 1934

Virgil Thomson's 'opera to be sung', Four Saints in Three Acts, is premièred in Hartford, CT. Read more...

10 Oct 1935

George Gershwin's magnum opus, his folk opera Porgy and Bess, has its première in New York. Read more...

2 June 1937

Berg's opera, Lulu has its première at the Stadttheater in Zürich. Read more...

7 June 1945

Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes receives its first performance at London's Sadler's Wells. Read more...

11 Sept 1951

Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress has its première at La Fenice, Venice. The libretto, by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman is based on a series of paintings by William Hogarth (1732–3). Read more...

8 June 1953

Britten's Gloriana, an opera about Elizabeth I of England commissioned to celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II, has its première at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Read more...

29 May 1962

Michael Tippett's King Priam has its première at the Coventry Festival. Read more...

25 July 1976

Philip Glass's first opera, Einstein on the Beach, has its première at the Avignon Festival. Read more...

6 Sept 1977

Thea Musgrave's opera Mary Queen of Scots has its première at the Edinburgh Festival. Read more...

21 May 1986

Harrison Birtwistle's Mask of Orpheus has its première at the London Coliseum. Read more...

22 Oct 1987

John Adams' opera Nixon in China, a treatment of the US President's 1972 meeting with Chairman Mao, has its première at the Houston Grand Opera. Read more...


Copyright © Oxford University Press 2007 — 2014.