Last updated

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]


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 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]

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 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.

Opera Artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theatre. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

<i>Tosca</i> 1900 opera by Giacomo Puccini

Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900. The work, based on Victorien Sardou's 1887 French-language dramatic play, La Tosca, is a melodramatic piece set in Rome in June 1800, with the Kingdom of Naples's control of Rome threatened by Napoleon's invasion of Italy. It contains depictions of torture, murder, and suicide, as well as some of Puccini's best-known lyrical arias.

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.

Antônio Carlos Gomes Brazilian composer

Antônio Carlos Gomes was the first New World composer whose work was accepted by Europe. The only non-European who was successful as an opera composer in Italy, during the "golden age of opera", contemporary to Verdi and Puccini and the first composer of non-European lineage to be accepted into the Classic tradition of music.

Tito Gobbi

Tito Gobbi was an Italian operatic baritone with an international reputation.

Sherrill Milnes American opera singer

Sherrill Milnes is an American dramatic baritone most famous for his Verdi roles. From 1965 until 1997 he was associated with the Metropolitan Opera. His voice is a high dramatic baritone, combining good legato with an incisive rhythmic style. By 1965 he had made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera. His international debuts followed soon thereafter, and Milnes became one of the world's prominent Verdi baritones of the 1970s and 1980s.

The Miskolc Opera Festival or International Opera Festival of Miskolc(Miskolci Nemzetközi Operafesztivál) is a cultural event held every summer in Miskolc, the capital of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, Hungary. The event offers a selection of opera performances with the participations of famous artists from all over the world and was created by Péter Müller Sziámi, the former art director of the National Theatre of Miskolc in 2001.

Casa Ricordi

Casa Ricordi is a publisher of primarily classical music and opera. Its classical repertoire represents one of the important sources in the world through its publishing of the work of the major 19th-century Italian composers such as Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi, and, later in the century, Giacomo Puccini, composers with whom one or another of the Ricordi family came into close contact.

Rosa Raisa

Rosa Raisa was a Polish-born and Italian-trained Russian-Jewish dramatic operatic soprano who became a naturalized American. She possessed a voice of remarkable power and was the creator of the title role of Puccini's last opera, Turandot, at La Scala, Milan.

Marcelo Álvarez

Marcelo Raúl Álvarez is an Argentine lyric tenor who achieved international success starting in the mid-1990s.

Sarasota Opera

Sarasota Opera is a professional opera company in Sarasota, Florida, USA, which was founded as the Asolo Opera Guild and, until 1974, presented a visiting company's productions. Between 1974 and 1979, it set about mounting its own productions in the same venue until, in 1979, it acquired the Edwards Theatre, which became the Sarasota Opera House in 1984. The house underwent a further renovation in 2008, creating a 1,119-seat venue.

Carmen Melis

Carmen Melis was an Italian operatic soprano who had a major international career during the first four decades of the 20th century. She was known, above all, as a verismo soprano, and was one of the most interesting singing actresses of the early 20th century. She made her debut in Novara in 1905 and her career rapidly developed in her native country over the next four years. From 1909-1916 she performed with important opera companies in the United States; after which she was busy performing at many of Europe's most important opera houses. From 1917 until her retirement from the stage in 1935 she was particularly active at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome and at La Scala in Milan. After her singing career ended, she embarked on a second career as a voice teacher. Her most notable student was soprano Renata Tebaldi.

Nashville Opera Association

The Nashville Opera Association is a professional opera company in Nashville, Tennessee and is a member of OPERA America. The company currently offers four fully staged opera productions and an educational outreach program during an annual season which runs from October through April. Performances are offered at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Downtown Nashville and the Noah Liff Opera Center in the Sylvan Heights section of West Nashville. Designed by architect Earl Swensson, the 26,000-square-foot (2,400 m2) Noah Liff Opera Center houses the company's executive offices, conference facilities, and a rehearsal studio.

Natalia Leonidovna Troitskaya was a Russian operatic soprano who had a major international career during the 1980s and early 1990s. She particularly excelled in the operas of Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi. Among her signature roles were Tatyana in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and the title heroines in Verdi's Aida, Puccini's Manon Lescaut, and Puccini's Tosca. She was a frequent partner of Plácido Domingo during the 1980s and also sang opposite other great artists like Montserrat Caballé, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Luciano Pavarotti.

Mark Delavan American operatic bass-baritone

Mark Delavan is an American operatic bass-baritone. He was a national finalist of the Metropolitan Opera auditions and an Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera.

Marina Poplavskaya

Marina Poplavskaya is a Russian operatic soprano. Her repertoire includes leading roles in operas of the Romantic era; she is particularly known for her performances in the operas of Verdi.

Hervey Alan was an English operatic bass and voice teacher. During his career he sang leading roles with most of Great Britain's major opera institutions, including the Edinburgh Festival, the Glyndebourne Festival, the Royal Opera House, the Sadler's Wells Opera, and the Welsh National Opera. He is best known for creating the role of Mr. Redburn in the world premiere of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd at the Royal Opera House, London, on 1 December 1951. Music critic Elizabeth Forbes wrote that his voice was "dark toned, resonant", and "especially effective as Zaccaria in Nabucco.

The Icelandic Opera is an opera company based in Reykjavík that produces operas and concerts. Its productions emphasize Icelandic artists, but regularly involve foreign artists as well. The company performs between October and May every year at the Harpa concert hall, their home venue since the hall's opening in 2011. As of October 2017, the company has produced 85 operas.


  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.Cite uses generic title (help)[ 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.