Welcome to Opera Stories

The heart of the Opera Story site is a collection of opera plots available free to anyone.  But there are more stories involved in an opera than just the plot: there are the life stories of the composer and the librettist, and there is the relationship between them, the tension between words and music which makes opera so fascinating.

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Giacomo Puccini – La Bohème

Opera in four acts Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giacomo Giacosa based on incidents in the novel Scènes de la vie de Bohème by Henri Murger, originally produced in serial form between 1847 and 1849 First performed at the Teatro Regio in Turin on 1 February 1896 Act 1...

Jacopo Peri – Euridice

A tragedy in a prologue and five scenes. Text by Ottavio Rinuccini (the word ‘libretto’ had not been invented yet): written in verse and a very elegant poem in its own right. First performed in the Pitti Palace in Florence on 6 October 1600 Prologue The opera begins...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Le Nozze di Figaro

Commedia per musica in four acts. Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, based on the play La folle journée ou Le marriage de Figaro by Pierre-Augustin de Beaumarchais (1784). First performed in the Burgtheater, Vienna, on 1 May 1786. The action of the opera takes place on the...

Etienne-Nicholas Méhul – Uthal

Opera in one act. Libretto by Jacques Maximilien Benjamin Bins de Saint-Victor, loosely based on the poem Berrathon, the final poem in the first volume of James Macpherson’s Ossian poems. First performed at the Opéra Comique in Paris on 17 May 1806.   Méhul (postcard...

Giuseppe Verdi – Rigoletto

Opera in three acts. Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Le Roi s’amuse by Victor Hugo. First performed in La Fenice Opera House in Venice, 11 March 1851 Act 1 The palace of the Duke of Mantua After a prelude, the curtain rises to reveal a wild party...

Jules Massenet – La Navarraise

Épisode lyrique in two acts. Libretto by Jules Claretie and Henri Cain after La Cigarette, a short story by Jules Claretie. First performed at Covent Garden, London, 20 June 1894 The action takes place in the village square of a small village outside Bilbao during the...

Jules Massenet – Hérodiade

Opéra in four acts and seven scenes. Libretto by Paul Milliet and ‘Henri Grémont’ (Georges Hartmann), developed from an original Italian text by Angelo Zanardini, based on the short story Herodias by Gustave Flaubert. First performed at the Théâtre de La Monnaie,...

Antoine Mariotte – Salome

Tragédy Lyrique in one act. Libretto taken from the text of Oscar Wilde’s play (written in French) Salome of 1893. First performed in Lyon on 30 October 1908 Based on Wilde’s play, the title of Mariotte’s opera, just like that of Richard Strauss which completely...

Hamish MacCunn – Jeanie Deans

Grand opera in four acts. Libretto by Joseph Bennett based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel Heart of Midlothian. First performed in Edinburgh on 15 November 1894. Act 1 The opera tells the story of two sisters, Jeanie and Effie Deans.  Their father, Davie Deans, upbraids...