Operas for First Timers

April 20, 2006

If you want to attend an opera, but are a bit apprehensive about which one to see, we offer these recommendations.

The operas (listed below with quick plot summaries) were chosen for their accessibility to a wide range of audiences, for being relatively short, and for having a steady plot progression.

Tosca by Puccini

A painter hides his fugitive friend from the police.  The police use the painter's lover to find them.  She devises a plan to save the painter, but it ends in a tragic betrayal. Read the full synopsis.

Rigoletto by Verdi

The court jester’s daughter is kidnapped by courtiers and seduced by the Count. The jester’s attempt at revenge is foiled by his daughter who sadly ends up sacrificing her own life to save the Count. Read the full synopsis.

La Traviata by Verdi

A beautiful and wealthy Parisian falls for a handsome man. They flee to the countryside to spend private time together. Their joy is destroyed by the arrival of the man’s father who begs her to end the affair to save his family’s name. She submits to his request.

After an extended separation and the onset of an illness from which she will not recover, the couple is reunited. She then dies in the arms of her lover. Read the full synopsis.

Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart

The maid and the valet (two servants of the Count) wish to marry. The Count has designs on the maid. His obvious intent to be unfaithful frustrates and saddens his wife, the Countess.

The maid, the valet and the Countess plot to trick the Count. The plot involves a man dressing as a woman, the Countess dressing as the maid and the maid dressing as the Countess. Needless to say, there’s a lot of comic confusion. In the end, the Count and Countess are reconciled and the maid and the valet are happily married. Read the full synopsis.

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