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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Engelbert Humperdinck – Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty)

Fairy-tale opera in a prelude and three acts. Libretto by Elisabeth Ebeling and Bertha Lehrmann-Filhés. First performed in Frankfurt am Main on 12 November 1902. Prelude The King and Queen have long wanted a daughter, and now that they have one, they have arranged her...

Georg Friderich Handel – Ariodante

Opera seria in three acts. Libretto by Antonio Salvi after an incident in Lodovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso (1516). First performed at Covent Garden, London, on 8 January 1735 Act 1 In the Scottish royal palace (Handel does not say exactly where this is in...

Eugène d’Albert – Die toten augen

Drama in one act with a prelude and a postlude. Libretto in French by Marc Henry (the pseudonym of Achille d’Ailly-Vaucheret) (as Les Yeux morts); German translation by Hans Heinz Ewers. First performed at Dresden Court Opera on 5 March 1916. The action is set in...

Georges Bizet – Don Procopio

Opera buffa in two acts. Libretto by Carlo Cambaggio. Written in 1858 as part of Bizet’s obligations under the conditions of the Prix de Rome.  The score was found in 1894 among the papers of Auber long after his death in 1871 and the opera was eventually first...

Georges Bizet – Le Docteur Miracle

Operetta in one act composed for a competition mounted by Jacques Offenbach for young composers and intended to revive the genre of the comic operetta. Libretto by Léon Battu and Ludovic Halévy based on the play St Patrick’s Day by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1775)....

Georges Bizet – Djamileh

Comic opera in one act. Libretto by Louis Gallet based on the poem Namouna by Alfred de Musset. First performed at the Opéra Comique in Paris on 22 May 1872 The scene is a lavish room in a palace in Cairo. Haroun is a rich, self-indulgent and idle young man of noble...

Jules Massenet – Werther

Libretto by Edouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann. Based on Goethe’s novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’) of 1774. First performed at the Vienna Opera, 16 February 1892 [First of all, so that there can be no doubt about it, a...

Pietro Mascagni – Cavalleria Rusticana

Opera in one act. Libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci based on the short story and subsequent play Cavalleria Rusticana by Giovanni Verga 1880). First performed in the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 17 May 1890 The setting is the main square of a...

Ruggero Leoncavallo – La Bohème

Opera in four acts. Libretto by the composer 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 La Fenice in Venice on 6 May 1897 Act 1 Christmas Eve 1837 at the Café...

Erich Wolfgang Korngold – Die tote Stadt

Opera in three acts. Libretto by Julius and Erich Korngold after Georges Rodenbach’s novel Bruges-la-Morte of 1892 (and the play Le Mirage which Rodenbach himself made from it), translated into German as Das Trugbild by Siegfried Trebitsch. First performed...