A quiz for opera enthusiasts

Here’s a simple quiz for people who think that Wagner, or Mozart, or Verdi, or Stockhausen, or whoever is the greatest opera composer who ever lived.

Not just their favourite composer, whose wonderful operas they want everyone to love as much as they do. Not just a composer with a huge influence on the genre. But better than every other composer who ever tried their hand at writing operas.

They should find it a cinch.

Write your answers on your monitor in indelible ink.

You must answer ALL questions. “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer.

  1. What are your five favourite Handel operas? How do they compare to Graun, Hasse, Galuppi, Porpora, and Vivaldi’s?
  2. Peter Conrad, in Opera: A Song of Love and Death, believes that Carmen and Don Giovanni are impelled to remain eternally in motion, pursuing, in Don Giovanni’s case, and manoeuvring free, in Carmen’s. They can only be truly satiated in death.
    Gently psychoanalyse any FOUR of Mozart’s teenage operas and THREE of Bizet’s other operas (except Les pêcheurs de perles and La jolie fille de Perth) to boiling point.
  3. What is your favourite Iphigénie: en Aulide, en Tauride, or en Champagne?
  4. What do you think of Salieri’s Danaïdes, Sacchini’s Œdipe à Colone, Méhul’s Joseph en Egypte, and Le Sueur’s Paul et Virginie?
  5. Was Berlioz right to say what he did about Spontini? Justify your answer.
  6. What about Berlioz’s verdict of Le devin du village?
  7. How would you fix Oberon?
  8. How do Il barbiere di SivigliaLe philtreGustave IIIOtelloDie lustige Weiber von Windsor, and Il giuramento compare to the more famous later versions?
  9. Which do you prefer: A Life for the Tsar or Ivan Susanin? (Or Ruslan and Lyudmila?)
  10. How do you feel about Serov, Dargomyzhsky, and Nápravník? Do they object to being felt? (Would they rather be cotton?) Have you been arrested?
  11. Discuss the merits of these Marias: Padilla, Rohan, Rudenz, Stuarda, Stuarda, Callas, Tudor (on whose heart “Callas” was engraved)
  12. What don’t you know of Buzzolla, Cagnoni, Foroni, Mabellini, Pacini, Pedrotti, Petrella, Platania, the Ricci brothers, and Rossi? Why not?
  13. Wagner admired La muette de Portici and La reine de Chypre. Based on your own knowledge of these works, do you agree?
  14. Do you agree that The Maid of Orleans and Mazeppa are better than Eugene Onegin and the Queen of Spades? If not, why not?
  15. NOT counting Rusalka and The Bartered Bride, what are your three favourite operas by Dvořák and Smetana? How do they compare to your favourite Janáček opera?
  16. Which of these do you prefer: Gotovac’s Ero s onoga svijeta, Żeleński’s Goplana, Nowowiejski’s Legenda Bałtyku, or Paliashvili’s Abesalom da Eteri?
  17. Are ArianeGrisélidis, and Roma more interesting than Werther and Manon? Can Bacchus really be as bad as all that? Explain your answer, with monkey noises, if appropriate.
  18. How many differences you can spot between Charpentier and Charpentier? What about Charpentier (either one), Chabrier, and Chausson? Include diagram.
  19. Who is your favourite woman composer out of Francesca Cassini, Louise Bertin, Pauline Viardot, and Ethel Smyth?
  20. Some critics have called Die schweigsame Frau one of the twentieth century’s best comic operas. Do you agree? If not, which one would you put?
  21. What is a Pfitzner, and is it painful? Illustrate how YOU would deal with one.
  22. Birtwhitle vs. Stockhausen.

Compare and contrast:


i) Un giorno di regno and Falstaff

ii) I Lombardi and Jérusalem

iii) I due Foscari, the two versions of Simon Boccanegra, and Marino Faliero

iv) Stiffelio and Aroldo

v) Luisa Miller and King Lear


i) Maometto II and Le siège de Corinthe

ii) Mosè in Egitto and Moïse et Pharaon

iii) Ermione and Guillaume Tell

c) Don ProcopioDon GiovanniDon GregorioDon CarlosDom Sébastien

d) Der Ring des Nibelungen and L’enlèvement d’Europe / L’abandon d’Ariane / La délivrance de Thésée

Give your considered critical opinion of EACH of the following:

  • Antar
  • Antigone / Elektra / Medea (Theodorakis)
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • La dame blanche
  • Benvenuto Cellini
  • Dardanus
  • Dialogues des Carmélites
  • Fantasio
  • Fervaal
  • Genoveva
  • Hans Heiling
  • Jessonda
  • La juive
  • Khovanshchina
  • Maskarade
  • The Midsummer Marriage
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Das Nusch-Nuschi
  • Orazi e Curiazi
  • Prince Igor
  • Le prophète
  • Richard Cœur-de-lion
  • Saint François d’Assise
  • Saint Louis roi de France
  • Satyagraha
  • Sigurd
  • Snegurochka
  • Troilus and Cressida


  • La dame de Monsoreau
  • Le val d’Andorre
  • La jeunesse de Goethe
  • Messaline
  • Patrie!
  • Quo vadis
  • La statue

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