Every opera written since 1945?

Every opera written since 1945?


norman lebrecht

September 26, 2015

Thierry Vagne has compiled an almost comprehensive directory of post-war staged operas here.

Can you think of any he has forgotten?

We have immediately spotted a Birtwistle omission: Yan Tan Tethera.

And Berthold Goldschmidt, Beatrice Cenci.

Feel free to add more.



  • Christy says:

    I will interesting to see the list develop when chamber operas are added. There are many from the US that are not listed.

  • Marina Arshinova says:

    Operas of Leonid Desyatnikov
    “Poor Liza” based on Karamzin’s novel
    and “Rosenthal’s Children”, based on Vladimir Sorokin’s original libretto

  • Nigel says:

    Good idea for a website. The missing chamber operas including British works as well known as Maxwell Davies’s “The Lighthouse” are important, but this is a work in progress and as such it’ll be good to see how it develops.

  • Graeme Hall says:

    There’s a lot of Philip Glass missing. Simply listing ones that I have seen personally: The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, The Voyage, The Perfect American, Kepler, In The Penal Colony, The Trial, La Belle et la Bete….

  • Ppellay says:

    Off the top of my head, the following ones come to mind, most (if not all) of them full scale:

    Dominick Argento – The Aspern Papers
    Lennox Berkeley: Ruth; A Dinner Engagement; Nelson
    Harrison Birtwistle: The Second Mrs. Kong
    Marc Blitzstein: Regina
    Jonathan Dove: Tobias and the Angel; Siren Song
    Carlisle Floyd: Of Mice and Men
    Lukas Foss – the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
    Alberto Ginastera – Don Rodrigo; Beatrice Cenci
    John Harbison: Full Moon in March; Winter’s Tale
    Paul Hindemith: The Long Christmas Dinner
    Oliver Knussen: Higglety Pigglety Pop
    Elisabeth Lutyens: Time Off? Not the Ghost of a Chance!
    Thea Musgrave: Mary Queen of Scots; A Christmas Carol; An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge; Harriet, the Woman called ‘Moses’
    Francis Poulenc: La Voix Humaine
    Sergei Prokofiev: The Story of a Real Man
    André Previn: Brief Encounter
    Ned Rorem: A Childhood Miracle; The Robbers
    William Walton: Troilus and Cressida

    • Nick says:

      Thea Musgrave’s Mary Queen of Scots was one of a series of four full-length operas commissioned by Scottish Opera in the 1970s and given a superb premiere at the Edinburgh Festival in 1977. It is rightly included in Ppellay’s supplementary list.

      The only one of the four in Thierry Vagne’s list is the first, Iain Hamilton’s The Catiline Conspiracy. He also omits the other two – Robin Orr’s Hermiston (also premiered at the Edinburgh Festival) and Thomas Wilson’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner.

      Robin Orr’s one-act opera Full Circle performed in 1968 is omitted as is Philip Purser’s The Undertaker (Edinburgh Festival 1969)

  • Andrey Tikhomirov says:

    Andrey Tikhomirov’s Last Days (about death of A. Pushkin) based on the play of the same name by Mikhail Bulgakov and some pieces of Pushkin’s works. The first performing – in 1989, St.-Peterburg Philarmonic Hall.

  • V.Lind says:

    Harry Somers: Louis Riel
    Charles Wilson: Heloise and Abelard, Psycho Red, The Selfish Giant, The Summoning of Everyman, Kamouraska
    James MacMillan: Ines de Castro, The Sacrifice, Clemency
    Astor Piazzolla:Maria de Buenos Aires
    Carlisle Floyd: Willy Stark
    Alfred Schnittke: Life With an Idiot
    Scott Joplin: Treemonisha
    Luca Mosca: Signor Goldoni

    And what about…
    Pete Townshend: Tommy

  • Jorge Grundman says:

    I miss my first opera: Cinco Horas con Mario which is expected to be premiered on 2020 but was finished on Christmas 2014

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    He’s listed a couple I’ve taken part in which should have been strangled at birth.

  • Tom says:

    Two operas by the Belgian composer Benoit Mernier are missing: Frühlingserwachen (2007) and La Dispute (2013).

  • Daniel F. says:

    The list is obviously incomplete. Two that have not yet been added by comment-writers: Lily by Leon Kirchner (1977) based on Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King; Diamond Street by Harold Farberman (2009).

  • Larry says:

    Gunther Schuller: “The Visitation” (1966) and “The Fisherman and His Wife” (1970.)

  • Daphne Badger says:

    Richard Rodney Bennett: The Mines of Sulphur and Victory…

  • Der Musensohn says:

    Norman Dello Joio, Blood Moon, San Francisco, 1961.

  • Ppellay says:

    A few more additions:

    Richard Rodney Bennett: A Penny for a Song (1966-67)
    Edison Denisov: L’Ecume des Jours (1981)
    Benjamin Frankel: Marching Song (1971-72)
    Marvin David Levy: Mourning Becomes Electra (1967)
    Yuri Shaporin: The Decembrists (1953)
    Boris Tishchenko: The Stolen Sun (1968)
    Mieczyslaw Weinberg: The Madonna and the Soldier (1970); The Love of d’Artagnan (1971); I Congratulate (1975); Lady Magnesia (1975); The Idiot (1985)

  • Curlew Song says:

    Stephen McNeff: Tarka the Otter, 2006. This has a chamber orchestra and isn’t a children’s opera. There’ll be a new production, fully staged, conducted by Nicholas Cleobury, in Exeter Cathedral on October 20 and 21, as part of the Two Moors Festival. (I’m in the chorus.)

  • sl says:

    Interesting list, but many important things are still missing: Berio: Cronaca del Luogo, Cerha: Der Rattenfänger, Der Riese vom Steinfeld, some works by Pizzetti, Cage: Europeras…
    Some important composers as Darius Milhaud or Werner Egk are not even mentioned!

  • Susanne Mentzer says:

    Carlisle Floyd
    Mice and Men
    Willie Stark
    Prince of Players

  • Paul Wehage says:

    Every opera that Françaix ever wrote….and three operas by Tailleferre. What an asshole!

  • Graham Eagland says:

    George Lloyd ‘John Socman’ 1951

  • Joel V. says:

    In year 2000 alone in Finland 14 new contemporary operas were premiered. Yet, this website has only 15 operas by Finnish composers…. So, here would be a project for somebody 🙂

  • Gerhard says:

    It is a given in opera that one regards the score as more important than the libretto, and mostly for good reasons. But there are also some unlisted examples with a different balance, for instance
    • “Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe” by Victor Fenigstein on the play by Bertold Brecht, or
    • “Mozart in New York” by Helmut Eder on a witty libretto by Herbert Rosendorfer

  • jacques ferland says:

    It was premature to post this list without further research. In addition to the corrections already posted for Weinberg, Prokofiev, and a few others, it remains very deficient with respect to Soviet composers, both known, such as Kabalevsky, and many lesser known, including “ethnic,” composers. Add to Poulenc “La Voix Humaine.” Include Kokkonen’s “The Last Temptations.” Four operas by Milhaud after 1945. Frank Martin’s “Der Sturm.” Etc.

  • Johannes says:

    Though rarely performed, with Terrible Mouth, Hells Angels and The Electrification of the Soviet Union, Nigel Osborne wrote two fantastic chamber operas and one opera – and from what I read, a new one is also in the making.

  • sl says:

    It seems to me that in his desperate attempt to list every crap from recent years the author of that list fails to mention the works of some quite famous composers. Besides Milhaud an Egk mentioned already, there is no trace of Mauricio Kagel, Gottfried von Einem or Blomdahl (Aniara) either. I mean they did really important and partly quite successful things (at least in the case of von Einem and Werner Egk) and should be mentioned in such a list.
    Good though to see many names most people never heard of. However, its most likely that there will be always something missing, especially from former Communist states and the Latin world.
    Btw, Aribert Reimann is listed with only two works while Henze is mentioned with no less than 29 operas!

    • jacques ferland says:

      The 1946 opera premieres included works by Georgian Shalva Mshvelidze, French Marcel Delannoy, Canadian Healey Willian, Slovenian Marjan Kozina, Menotti’s The Medium, Croatian Jakov Gotovac, Boris Blacher’s Die Flut, German Waldemar Wendland, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Estonian Gustav Ernesaks, Russian Marian Koval. Once relatively minor “western” composers are included in a list such as this one, there’s an obligation to apply the same standard elsewhere. Operadata Stanford offers a good search engine on opera premieres.

  • Gav says:

    from morning to midnight by david sawer — premiered at ENO in 2001. from what i remember it was pretty good!

  • Stuard Young says:

    Cecil Effinger: Cyrano de Bergerac. Based on the play. Effinger was on the faculty of the University of Colorado when this opera was first produced, in the summer of 1964 or 1965 (I was there both summers, but have forgotten which one was the production.) The libretto was by a colleague from the English Department. Baritone Kevin Smith, then with the Washington National Opera, was Cyrano, and his acting really brought Cyrano to life. Andor Toth conducted the university orchestra.

  • Stuard Young says:

    Romeo Cascarino: “William Penn”

    Margaret Garwood: “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, The Trojan Women,” “The Nightingale and the Rose”, “The Scarlet Letter”

  • Stuard Young says:

    Jake Heggie: “Moby Dick”

  • Marcus says:

    Only one opera by Daniel Catán (Il Postino) is listed. He wrote several others: Encuentro en el ocaso; Rappaccini’s Daughter; Florencia en el Amazonas; and Salsipuedes. Other rather obvious omissions include Tania León’s Scourge of Hyacinths; David Del Tredici’s Dum Dee Tweedle; all of Alexander Goehr’s operas.

  • Owen Leech says:

    Having only read the start of the list so far, I’m already intrigued by little-known British composer ‘Julina’ Anderson and ‘Anglo- French’ composer ‘Georges’ Benjamin… More treats in store, I hope.

  • Jaxon says:

    Dopey completist projects like this drive me crazy. In the first handful of entries I am already seeing oratorios and things that are not operas, by any traditional definition, that seem to have been tossed in at random.