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Operabase is an online database of opera performances, opera houses and companies, and performers themselves as well as their agents. Found at operabase.com, it was created in 1996 by English software engineer and opera lover Mike Gibb. [1] Initially a hobby site, it became his full-time occupation after three years. [2] Opera magazine describes the Operabase website as "the most comprehensive source of data on operatic activity". [3]

Opera house theatre building used for opera performances

An opera house is a theatre building used for opera performances that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and set building.

Opera is a monthly British magazine devoted to covering all things related to opera. It contains reviews and articles about current opera productions internationally, as well as articles on opera recordings, opera singers, opera companies, opera directors, and opera books. The magazine also contains major features and analysis on individual operas and people associated with opera.


The public site

By its tenth anniversary, in 2006, the site received "about 10,000 visitors a day to the public site, who look at over four million pages a month between them. Of these, fewer than half use English, 17% use German, 12% Italian, 10% French, 9% Spanish." [4] In autumn of that year the British magazine Opera Now reported that "Operabase has taken on the Herculean task of making [the site] available to every European Union citizen in their own language – not only the 21 (as at January 2007) official languages of the EU, but Catalan, Icelandic and Norwegian as well." [5] As of November 2012, the free public area of the site is available in 22 languages, and includes 37,000 performances, 40,000 artists, 700 opera companies, festivals and theatres, and the contact details and rosters of 400 artist managers. [6]

The Operabase professional section

Seven years after the public site was launched, a professional site followed and within three years, "200 opera houses from the Met to La Scala" were subscribers. [5] The initial service offering for the 750 euro annual subscription fee had increased artist information and an opera casting tool. The casting tool was used for researching singers for a given role, but was particularly valued for finding replacement singers when there were emergency cancellations. The tool could not only put forward the names of all of the singers who had sung that role, but the artist schedules could be used to find if they were available, and the artists management and contact information could be used to make contact. [7]

The professional services now also include a global database of opera productions available to rent or buy.

The database is now operated by Gibb and Muriel Denzler, who provide services to opera professionals for a fee, although the site is searchable by any web user at no charge.

As has been noted by Gibb and Denzler in an article on the website of Opera Europa (the European opera service organisation similar to those which exist in the US and Canada, OPERA America and Opera.ca) they provide specialised services to opera professionals, with the site including "casting tools, artist records, management details, productions information". But they emphasise that "the site was originally created for the general public, who still provide 96% of its users". [4]

Opera Europa is the international service organisation for professional opera companies and opera festivals in Europe. It is incorporated in Brussels as a not-for-profit organisation.

Opera statistics

In autumn 2010, Operabase produced a set of statistics for the opera world to mark the 250,000th performance on file. These statistics were presented at the third European Opera Forum, organised by Opera Europa in London in March 2011. [8] [9] In autumn 2013, the statistics were updated to show the 2012/13 season figures. [10]

The Operabase rankings of the most performed operas formed the basis of a set of music questions in an edition of the BBC's University Challenge , broadcast in July 2014. Competitors were asked to identify three operas in the Operabase list from sound clips of Maria Callas. [11]

<i>University Challenge</i> television series

University Challenge is a British quiz programme which first aired in 1962. University Challenge aired for 913 episodes on ITV from 21 September 1962 to 31 December 1987, presented by quizmaster Bamber Gascoigne. The BBC revived the programme on 21 September 1994 with Jeremy Paxman as the quizmaster.

Maria Callas American-born Greek operatic soprano

Maria Callas, Commendatore OMRI was an American-born Greek soprano. She was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century. Many critics praised her bel canto technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations. Her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini and, further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini; and, in her early career, to the music dramas of Wagner. Her musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed as La Divina.

Most played composers

In the five seasons 2008/09 to 2012/13, 2415 different works from 1161 different composers were played. The most popular composers were:

  1. Giuseppe Verdi, with 2,586 performances of 28 operas
  2. Giacomo Puccini, with 1,893 performances of 12 operas
  3. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  4. Richard Wagner
  5. Gioachino Rossini

More than 600 of the composers played in this period were still alive. The most frequently programmed of these were Philip Glass, Hans Werner Henze, and John Adams. Kaija Saariaho was the most played female composer, living or dead.

Throughout the 2015/16 season the most popular operas overall were:

  1. La traviata (1853, Verdi) with 4190 performances over 869 runs
  2. Die Zauberflöte (1791, Mozart) with 3310 performances over 561 runs
  3. Carmen (1875, Bizet) with 3280 performances over 691 runs
  4. La bohème (1896, Puccini) with 3131 performances over 672 runs
  5. Tosca (1900, Puccini) with 2694 performances over 608 runs

The most popular operas by composers from the 20th century (i.e., by composers born after 1900) were The Turn of the Screw by Benjamin Britten and Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1934, Dmitri Shostakovich).  The most popular works by composers alive on 31 July 2012 were the monodrama The Diary of Anne Frank (composed 1968, Grigory Frid), and the opera Dead Man Walking (2000, Jake Heggie).

Most operatic places

In the 2015/16 season, the cities with the most opera performances were:

  1. Moscow with 582 performances
  2. Vienna with 535 performances
  3. Berlin with 527 performances
  4. London with 427 performances
  5. St. Petersburg with 422 performances

Related Research Articles

Giacomo Puccini 19th and 20th-century Italian opera composer

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian opera composer who has been called "the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi".

Giuseppe Verdi 19th-century Italian opera composer

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian opera composer. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. By his 30s, he had become one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history.

<i>La traviata</i> 1853 opera by Giuseppe Verdi

La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La Dame aux camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils. The opera was originally titled Violetta, after the main character. It was first performed on 6 March 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice.

La Scala Opera house in Milan, Italy

La Scala is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala. The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta.

<i>Verismo</i> (music)

In opera, verismo was a post-Romantic operatic tradition associated with Italian composers such as Pietro Mascagni, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Umberto Giordano, Francesco Cilea and Giacomo Puccini. Verismo as an operatic genre had its origins in an Italian literary movement of the same name. This was in turn related to the international literary movement of naturalism as practised by Émile Zola and others. Like naturalism, the verismo literary movement sought to portray the world with greater realism. In so doing, Italian verismo authors such as Giovanni Verga wrote about subject matter, such as the lives of the poor, that had not generally been seen as a fit subject for literature.

Renata Scotto Operatic soprano

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Tito Gobbi Italian opera singer

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Sherrill Milnes American opera singer

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Casa Ricordi music publishing company

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Andrea Gruber is an American dramatic soprano particularly admired for her interpretations of the works of Puccini, Verdi, and Wagner.

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Nashville Opera Association non-profit organisation in the USA

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  1. Edward Schneider (29 July 2001), "Singing and Their Suppers", The New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  2. Higgins, Charlotte (23 May 2003). "Operabase.com". The Guardian . London. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  3. Shapiro, Yehuda (June 2012), "Rarity Value", Opera magazine, vol. 63 no. 6, p. 671
  4. 1 2 Gibb, Mike; Denzler, Muriel. "Operabase's 10th Anniversary". opera-europa.org.Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. 1 2 Richardson, Kenneth (September – October 2006). "Net Results: Operabase, the internet tool for opera lovers and professionals, is ten years old. Kenneth Richardson talks to computer wiz and opera lover Mike Gibb about the journey so far and his ambitious plans to develop the site in future". Opera Now. London.
  6. "Home page". Operabase.com. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  7. Sweeting, Adam (25 October 2007). "The show must go on – but how?: When the star of the Royal Opera House's 'Ring' cycle fell ill the day before the show, everything seemed lost. Adam Sweeting tells the story of a frantic 24 hours". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  8. Anaclase, Gilles Charlassier. "Forum Opera Europa. Troisième forum des professionnels de l'art lyrique". Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  9. "unknown" (PDF). OEuvres newsletter. Opera Europa (33). Spring 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2012.[ dead link ]
  10. "Opera Statistics 2012/13". operabase.com. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  11. "University Challenge 2014/15, Episode 3 on BBC iPlayer". BBC. Retrieved 4 August 2014.