Opera 100

Here we write a 100-word précis of numerous opera plots. This is an ongoing and serendipitous series, the idea being to present the storyline in an instant.

Enigmatic Bluebeard leads headstrong new wife Judith inside his forbidding castle. Seeing seven doors, she demands access finding in turn a torture chamber, an armoury, his treasure vault and garden,...
Leonore (disguised as Fidelio) infiltrates the prison of Don Pizarro to rescue her husband Florestan whom has been illegally incarcerated for two years. Marzelline, the daughter of Rocco the gaoler,...
Ostracised by the stifling Borough community after losing an apprentice at sea, rough fisherman Peter Grimes takes on another workhouse boy. Only sympathetic teacher Ellen Orford supports him. When she...
Actress Adriana Lecouvreur loves Maurizio, giving him a posy of violets as a love-token. Maurizio meets the Princess of Bouillon, his former lover, passing her the posy to placate her...
Shy Nemorino adores beautiful but capricious Adina. Purchasing a bottle of “Queen Isotta’s love potion” from itinerant quack Dr Dulcamara he proposes to Adina. Intoxicated by Bordeaux wine his over-confidence...
Enrico discovers his sister Lucia loves his rival Edgardo. Meeting secretly the couple exchange rings before Edgardo departs. Their covert correspondence is intercepted. Enrico persuades Lucia of Edgardo’s infidelity using...
Gennaro is drawn to a masked lady. His friends including Orsini insult her, unmasking her as the hated Lucrezia Borgia. She vows revenge. Her secret visits to Gennaro arouse her...
Gandhi is inspired by the Bhagavad Gita andthe poet Rabindranath Tagore. In South Africa, Gandhi and followers build Tolstoy Farm and protest the governmental introduction of identity cards and movement restrictions of...
Egotistical poet Gregor Mittenhofer retreats to the Alps to seek creative inspiration from the visions of Hilde Mack whose husband disappeared on the mountains forty years earlier. His various admirers...
Boris, financially dependent on his uncle Dikoj, loves Katya, a sympathetic woman married to Tichon, a weak man dominated by his harsh mother Kabanicha. Kabanicha taunts Katya for her passivity...
A forester catches a vixen cub, taking her home. The resourceful vixen incites the hens to feminist rebellion against the cock before slaughtering them and escaping. Evicting the badger she...
Realising she’s pregnant, Jenůfa anxiously awaits Števa. He arrives drunk, provoking Jenůfa’s foster-mother the Kostelnička (Sacristan) to postpone their marriage. Števa’s step-brother Laca jealouslydisfigures Jenůfa’s face. Jenůfa bears a son...
Middle-aged Paul becomes obsessed by Marietta, a young dancer strikingly similar to his dead wife Marie. His friend Frank and servant Brigitta express misgivings. Marietta visits, notes her resemblance to...
Ferrando and Gugliemo wager with cynical Don Alfonso on the constancy of their lovers Dorabella and Fiordiligi. For one day all Alfonso’s demands must be followed. Claiming military conscription the...
Three ladies rescue Prince Tamino from a serpent. Their mistress, the dazzling Queen of the Night, sends Tamino and genial bird-catcher Papageno with magic flute and bells to rescue her...
The disguised Don Giovanni kills Donna Anna’s father, the Commendatore, whilst attempting his 2066th seduction! Fleeing with his servant Leporello he encounters the embittered Donna Elvira, a former conquest still...
After the Trojan War, Idomeneo, King of Crete, is missing. His son, Idamante, loves the captured Trojan princess, Ilia; the jealous Elettra looks-on. Neptune calms a storm, and Idomeneo, rescued,...
Count Almaviva has amorous designs on his wife’s maid Susanna, engaged to his valet Figaro. Simultaneously, the pageboy Cherubino is pursuing the Countess, unhappy at her husband’s apparent disinterest in...
Alexei is besotted with Pauline. In debt to the Marquis, Paulina gave money to Alexei to gamble for her, alas unsuccessfully. Her stepfather the General, Alexei’s employer, is enamoured with...
The rumour that the dead Buoso Donati left his fortune to a monastery prompts his relatives, who have gathered round his deathbed, all feigning grief to impress each other, to...
At sunset on the River Seine, Michele, owner of a barge, watches the stevedores finish their work, unaware that one of them, Luigi, is the lover of his wife Giorgetta....
As the nuns finish their prayers, Sister Angelica, sent to the convent by her family because she had an illegitimate child, tries unsuccessfully to hide her unhappiness at having heard...
During a harsh Parisian winter, four struggling bohemian flatmates are preparing to go to the Café Momus, but the writer Rodolfo stays to finish some work. The terminally-ill Mimì arrives,...
Escaped political prisoner Angelotti is discovered in church by sympathetic artist Cavaradossi. Initially Cavaradossi conceals this from his diva lover, jealous Floria Tosca. Sadistic policeman Scarpia arrives. Insinuating Cavaradossi has...
In Peking, Calaf finds his father Timur, a blind exiled king, escorted by the slave-girl Liù. Calaf glimpses the imperious princess Turandot and is immediately smitten. Ignoring protestations from his...
Napoli poet Prosdocimo, writing a new opera, influences the lives of those he observes. Gypsy Zaida, accompanied by Albazar, misses her ex-fiancé and Turkish prince Selim. Geronio is concerned about...
Princess Marie Therese, the Marschallin, is enjoying an extra-marital affair with adolescent Count Octavian. Interrupted by the Marschallin’s impoverished country cousin Baron Ochs, Octavian escapes disguised as her maid, Mariandel....
Klytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus have murdered her husband Agamemnon. His daughter Elektra stalks Mycenae fixatedly anticipating revenge by her brother Orestes. Her sister Chrysothemis, seeking escape through marriage, cannot...
Despite her father’s reservations, Anne becomes engaged to Tom Rakewell. The mysterious Nick Shadow brings Tom news of a windfall inheritance, offering his services for a year. Shadow introduces Tom...
The devil, humiliated by his depiction in a church mural, plots revenge on Vakula by ruining his secret tryst with the capricious Oxana. The witch Solokha, Vakula’s mother, simultaneously entertaining...
On Madame Larina’s country estate the bookish Tatyana meets Eugene Onegin, friend of the poet Lensky. Infatuated, Tatyana writes Onegin an effusive love-letter overnight which he returns, coolly admonishing her...
Ethiopian princess Aida is brought to be a slave of Egyptian princess Amneris; Radames, who loves Aida but is loved by Amneris, captains the force sent to repel the rescue...
Violetta is introduced to Alfredo Germont at a party. He persuades her to abandon her extravagant ways, which would otherwise lead her to an early grave. Violetta supports their new...
Militarily successful, Otello reaches Cyprus amidst a terrible storm. Nihilistic Iago, resenting his subservient position, inebriates Cassio provoking riots that interrupt Otello’s reconciliation with his wife. Otello demotes Cassio. Abusing...
Interrupting a party Count Monterone curses the libertine Duke of Mantua for the seduction of his daughter, but also the Duke’s unpopular jester Rigoletto for malevolence. Returning home Rigoletto encounters...
Taunted by the Rhinemaidens the Nibelung Alberich forswears love and snatches their gold. He forges the ring of power and forces his brother Mime to make the transforming Tarnhelm. Wotan,...
Nibelung Alberich forswears love, seizes the Rhinegold forging a ring of power. Losing it to the god Wotan he curses it. Wotan is forced to yield it to the giant...
The fugitive Siegmund, the god Wotan’s mortal son, meets his twin sister Sieglinde, trapped in loveless marriage to Hunding. Sieglinde drugs Hunding, Siegmund obtains the magic sword Nothung, and the...
Siegfried leaves Brünnhilde the ring as love-token. He meets Gibichungs Gunther and Gutrune, and their half-brother Hagen, Alberich’s son. Drugged, Siegfried forgets his past. Ignoring her sister Waltraute’s warnings, Brünnhilde...
Pressurised into revealing the youthful Siegfried’s parentage the wily Nibelung Mime produces splinters of the sword Nothung, which Siegfried re-forges. Encouraged by Mime Siegfried kills the dragon Fafner, a giant...
Tannhäuser escapes Venus’s realm of bacchanalian excess. Wolfram leads him to the Wartburg, reuniting him with Elisabeth, the Landgrave’s niece. Minstrel knights then sing of Love’s purity, provoking Tannhäuser to...
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