Baroque opera was something of Holy Grail in the 1600-1750 Western Europe art scenes. And for good reason; these performances brought together the allure of music, dramatic text, and much more for an opera experience that’ll simply knock your socks off. Four or so centuries later, baroque opera is still all the rage in major opera houses across the globe.
Here are our picks for the top 10 baroque operas of all time.
#1. Rameau Hippolyte et Aricie
We have to confess right out of the block that Rameau is our absolute favorite baroque composer. His works are not only authentic but also entices one’s innermost and basest feelings. And Hippolyte et Aricie is, of course, Rameau’s masterpiece.
It premiered on October 1, 1733, at the Academie Royale de Musique theatre in Paris. Needless to say, the opera elicited lots of tongue-wagging because there was little or nothing conventional about it. We love how the opera takes the tragedie en musique style of the era. It comes with an allegorical prologue that’s preceded 5 fantastic acts.
#2. Handel Giulio Cesare in Egitto
The value of Handel to the baroque opera community was absolute. He composed Giulio Cesare in Egitto in 1724. The libretto, however, was composed by his fellow Francesco Haym based on Francesco Bussani’s earlier works. The opera’s plot is credited partly to the events that took place during the Roman Civil War of 49 BC.
#3. Vivaldi L’incoronazione di Dario
This opera premiered on January 23, 1717, at the Teatro Sant’Angelo in Venice. The Italian libretto was written by Adriano Morselli.
#4. Scarlatti Griselda
Griselda is a three-act opera by Scarlatti. First performed in January 1721 at the Treato Capranica in January, the Griselda received a warm reception. The libretto was written by Apostolo Zeno.
#5. Purcell The Fairy Queen
Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen was first performed on May 2, 1692. The libretto was written by renowned Thomas Betterton.
#6. Charpentier Médée
Charpentier masterpiece premiered on 4 December 1693 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. Thomas Corneille wrote the libretto.
#7. Monteverdi L’incoronazione di Poppea
Claudio Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea premiered during the 1643 Carnival festival at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. The Librettists was Busenello.
#8. Lully Thésée
Thésée is gorgeous tragedie en musique that premiered on January 11, 1675. Philippe Quinault wrote the libretto.
#9. Vinci Artaserse
Vinci’s Artaserse features one of Mestastio’s most popular librettos. It was first performed on February 4, 1730 at the Teatro delle Dame.
#10. Vivaldi Orlando Furioso
To cap off our list Vivaldi’s Orlando furioso, 3-act opera that premiered in November 1727. The libretto was written by Grazio Braccioli.