Action/Adventure, Best Movies, Classics, Crime/Mystery, Drama, Foreign-Language

The Best Opera Movies Of All-Time

“What are the best movies about or featuring the Opera?” We looked at 110 of the top Opera films and ranked them so we could answer that very question!

The top 25 films, all appearing on 2 or more “Best Opera” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 75+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 25 Best Opera Movies Ever Made



25 .) Bizet Carmen (1984)

	Bizet Carmen (1984)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Like Light Magazine
  • Wsimag

This all-star cast is framed by Peter Hall’s gritty, realistic production and conducted by James Levine, who brings out all the surging emotion and gripping drama in Bizet’s score. At the center of the story is Agnes Baltsa, whose smoky mezzo is tailor-made for the gypsy Carmen, an independent woman who glories in obeying only her own rules, but who is haunted by fate. Superstar tenor José Carreras is Don José, the solider from a small town who catches Carmen’s eye and is destroyed by his growing obsession with her. Samuel Ramey is the charismatic matador Escamillo, who lures Carmen away from Don José with tragic result. Leona Mitchell is Micaëla, the simple girl from Don José’s hometown who cannot save him. March 21, 1987 Matinee Broadcast.



24 .) Cavalleria Rusticana

	Cavalleria Rusticana

Lists It Appears On:

  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

This film was not based on the famous one-act opera of Pietro Mascagni but rather on the original story by the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga. It’s the story of Santuzza, her love Turiddu, and his passion for the married Lola that leads to his death in a duel when Lola’s husband Alfio exacts satisfaction.



23 .) Così fan tutte (2013)

	Così fan tutte (2013)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Ranker

Who loves whom in Così fan tutte, Mozart’s and Da Ponte’s cruelly comic reflection on desire, fidelity and betrayal? Or have the confusions to which the main characters subject one another ensured that in spite of the heartfelt love duets and superficially fleetfooted comedy nothing will work any longer and that a sense of emotional erosion has replaced true feelings? Così fan tutte is a timeless work full of questions that affect us all. The Academy Award-winning director Michael Haneke once said that he was merely being precise and did not want to distort reality. In only his second opera production after Don Giovanni in 2006, he presents what ARTE described as a “disillusioned vision of love in an ice-cold, realistic interpretation”.



22 .) Eugene Onegin

	Eugene Onegin

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Wonders In The Dark

In the opulent St. Petersburg of the Empire period, Eugene Onegin is a jaded but dashing aristocrat – a man often lacking in empathy, who suffers from restlessness, melancholy and, finally, regret. Through his best friend Lensky, Onegin is introduced to the young Tatiana. A passionate and virtuous girl, she soon falls hopelessly under the spell of the aloof newcomer and professes her love for him



21 .) Fatal Attraction

	Fatal Attraction

Lists It Appears On:

  • Glynde Bourne
  • Listverse

A married man’s one night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.



20 .) Il Barbiere di Siviglia

	Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Lists It Appears On:

  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

Live performance from Teatro Real de Madrid, January 2005. The Barber of Seville, or The Futile Precaution (Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L’inutile precauzione) is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’s French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini’s opera (under the title Almaviva, o sia L’inutile precauzione) took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome. Rossini’s Barber has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music, and has been described as the opera buffa of all “opere buffe”. Even after two hundred years, its popularity on the modern opera stage attests to that greatness. [description from Wikipedia].



19 .) Le Nozze di Figaro

	Le Nozze di Figaro

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Wonders In The Dark

Lyon National Opera Chorus and Orchestra production of Mozart’s opera



18 .) Life Is Beautiful

	Life Is Beautiful

Lists It Appears On:

  • Listverse
  • ROH

A touching story of an Italian book seller of Jewish ancestry who lives in his own little fairy tale. His creative and happy life would come to an abrupt halt when his entire family is deported to a concentration camp during World War II. While locked up he tries to convince his son that the whole thing is just a game.



17 .) Pagliacci

	Pagliacci

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Wonders In The Dark

The story is set in southern Italy and recounts the tragedy of Canio, the lead clown (or pagliaccio in Italian) in a commedia dell’arte troupe, his wife Nedda, and her lover, Silvio. When Nedda spurns the advances of Tonio, another player in the troupe, he tells Canio about Nedda’s betrayal. In a jealous rage Canio murders both Nedda and Silvio. Although Leoncavallo’s opera was originally set in the late 1860’s, Zeffirelli’s production is updated to the period between World War I and World War II.



16 .) Pretty Woman

	Pretty Woman

Lists It Appears On:

  • Glynde Bourne
  • ROH

When a millionaire wheeler-dealer enters a business contract with a Hollywood hooker Vivian Ward, he loses his heart in the bargain.



15 .) The Death of Klinghoffer (2003)

	The Death of Klinghoffer (2003)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Wikipedia

An adaptation from the controversial John Adams opera about the true life incident that took place in the mid 80s. The liner “Achille Lauro” is on a 12-day cruise in the Mediterranean. While the ship is docked in Alexandria, a maid discovers that four of the passengers are actually members of the Palestine Liberation Organization traveling incognito. Startled by their discovery, the PLO cadre is forced to act. They take the passengers on board hostage and demand the release of 50 Palestinian activists held in Israeli jails. As Egyptian, American, Italian, and Palestinian authorities bicker over the best way to handle the situation (and who would negotiate with the terrorists), the kidnappers find themselves dealing with rebellion among their captives, and an argument between the four PLO members and Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish-American confined to a wheelchair, eventually escalates into violence.



14 .) The Tales of Hoffmann

	The Tales of Hoffmann

Lists It Appears On:

  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

In this film adaptation of the Offenbach opera, a young poet named Hoffman broods over his failed romances. First, his affair with the beautiful Olympia is shattered when he realizes that she is really a mechanical woman designed by a scientist. Next, he believes that a striking prostitute loves him, only to find out she was hired to fake her affections by the dastardly Dapertutto. Lastly, a magic spell claims the life of his final lover.



13 .) Tosca

	Tosca

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Wonders In The Dark



12 .) Verdi La Traviata

	Verdi La Traviata

Lists It Appears On:

  • Like Light Magazine
  • Wsimag

Violetta, a courtesan much wooed by Parisian society, organizes a grand party that is attended, amongst others, by the young Alfredo Germont. He confesses his feelings to Violetta, who is already suffering from consumption. She vacillates between genuine affection and a realistic assessment of her situation as a “fallen woman”, which precludes any lasting relationship with a man. The Willy Decker production of La Traviata, recorded live at the Salzburger Festspiele in August, 2005. Anna Netrebko stars as Violetta Valéry, with Rolando Villazón as Alfredo Germont and Thomas Hampson as Giorgio Germont. Carlo Rizzi conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker.



11 .) Boris Godunov (1989)

	Boris Godunov (1989)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

Zulawski tackles Modest Mussorgsky’s famous opera about the bloody battle for ascendancy to the throne of Russia in the 17th-century! With a score conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, Zulawski adds extra layers of devilish meta-textual embellishment by composing the film’s imagery as though we are watching a theater piece of a film crew making a movie about the opera of “Boris Godounov”! As well, the picture is full of delightful anachronisms that mock the then-contemporary Russian government, alongside jabs at other 20th-century dictatorships. So incensed was Rostropovich by Zulawski’s juiced final product — one that took liberties with the narrative’s sexual thrust, amongst other things — that he (unsucessfully) took Zulawski to court for “the violation of the Russian soul”! “Impressive in its use of whirling camera movements as well as mega close-ups of the contracted faces of its singers, ‘Boris Godounov’ is one of the most original opera movies ever made”



10 .) Elektra (1981)

	Elektra (1981)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Classical Lites
  • Wonders In The Dark

Strauss’s opera adapted to the screen by Gotz Friedrich.



9 .) Madama Butterfly

	Madama Butterfly

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

Opera at La Scala Milan



8 .) Otello

	Otello

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

Having previously staged Verdi’s 1887 opera Otello at the Met and La Scala, filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli committed his production to film in 1986. Starring as the fatally jealous Moor of Venice is Placido Domingo, who had also headlined Zeffirelli’s 1976 La Scala staging (production on the film was briefly interrupted while Domingo participated in the rescue operations following the Mexico City earthquake). While Katia Ricciarelli as Desdemona and Justino Diaz as Iago perform their own singing, Zeffirelli’s Cassio–played by real-life European prince Urbano Barberini–is dubbed by Ezio de Cesare. The director made several cuts in the original libretto and score in order to accommodate the film’s two-hour time limit, but these excisions are done with taste and discretion. Because of the excessive violence in the third act–two murders, a suicide, a superficial throat-slashing–Otello was released with a PG rating.



7 .) Rigoletto

	Rigoletto

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

Rigoletto is a jester in the court of the Duke of Mantua. He has a hunch-back and he’s rather unattractive, but he’s good at his job of humiliating the courtiers for the amusement of the Duke. The courtiers, of course, are not amused. The Duke is a ladies man who feels his life would be meaningless if he couldn’t chase every skirt he sees. In fact, we learn as the opera begins that he’s recently been noticing a young lady every Sunday on her way to church, and he’s vowed to have his way with her. What nobody realizes is that the girl is the jester’s beloved daughter, Gilda, and that Gilda has seen the Duke every Sunday and is smitten with him. Suddenly Count Monterone appears at court, furious that the Duke has seduced his daughter. Rigoletto ridicules Monterone, the Duke laughs, and Monterone casts an awful curse on both of them. Later, the courtiers discover that Rigoletto is secretly living with Gilda…



6 .) La Bohème (2008)

	La Bohème (2008)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Ranker
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

Giacomo Puccini’s immortal opera, in a high budget feature-film version directed by Academy Award nominee Robert Dornhelm, stars opera’s ‘Golden Couple’, Rolando Villazon and Anna Netrebko as the protagonists, Rodolfo and Mimi. The chemistry between them is electric, unrivalled in the theatre today. Russian soprano Anna Netrebko is not only beautiful but has a marvelous voice and technique; Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon, has a wonderful voice and an incredible charisma. The director not only wanted to remain steadfastly faithful to Puccini’s design but also document two of the leading singers of the modern age rather than embarking on a ‘trendy’ contemporary re-creation.



5 .) Parsifal (1982)

	Parsifal (1982)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Ranker
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s Parsifal film is a psychological interpretation of the opera mixing in references to the history of Germany, Wagner’s life, German literature and philosophy. The action is centered around Wagner’s death mask. Kundry (played by the German actress Edith Clever and sung by Yvonne Minton) is the main character – one might read the film as the story of her redemption rather than that of Amfortas. Made entirely in a studio (in 1981 and released in 1983), it is characterized by long takes, slowly moving camera that breaths with the music and varies between close-ups and long shots to emphasize the drama.



4 .) The Magic Flute (1975)

	The Magic Flute (1975)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Ranker
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

The Queen of the Night enlists a handsome prince named Tamino to rescue her beautiful kidnapped daughter, Princess Pamina, in this screen adaptation of the beloved Mozart opera. Aided by the lovelorn bird hunter Papageno and a magical flute that holds the power to change the hearts of men, young Tamino embarks on a quest for true love, leading to the evil Sarastro’s temple where Pamina is held captive.



3 .) Carmen (1984)

	Carmen (1984)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Classical Lites
  • Ranker
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

A film version of the famous Bizet opera, where a soldier (Don Jose) falls in love with a beautiful factory worker (Carmen), but she does not reciprocate his feelings.



2 .) Don Giovanni (1979)

	Don Giovanni (1979)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Classical Lites
  • Ranker
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

Screen adapatation of Mozart’s greatest opera. Don Giovanni, the infamous womanizer, makes one conquest after another until the ghost of Donna Anna’s father, the Commendatore, (whom Giovanni killed) makes his appearance. He offers Giovanni one last chance to repent for his multitudinious improprieties. He will not change his ways So, he is sucked down into hell by evil spirits. High drama, hysterical comedy, magnificent music! (and unfortunately poor direction by film maker Joseph Losey. The final scene looks more like an industrial mishap than a supernatural event.)



1 .) La traviata (1982)

	La traviata (1982)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Classical Lites
  • Ranker
  • Wikipedia
  • Wonders In The Dark

A story of doomed love in 1840s Paris: Violetta, who is the mistress of a wealthy baron, hosts a lavish party to celebrate her improved health after a bout with tuberculosis. There she meets Alfredo and becomes smitten with him as he, she, and the guests join in the famous “Drinking Song.” Based on the 1853 opera of the same name.



 


The 75+ Additional Best Movies About Or featuring Opera



 

# Movies Directors Lists
26 A Room With A View Gianni Schicchi
Glynde Bourne
27 A Time of Destiny   Wikipedia
28
A Village Romeo and Juliet
 
Wonders In The Dark
29 Aida   Ranker
30 Amadeus Miloš Forman ROH
31 Apocalypse Now   Listverse
32 Aria   Wikipedia
33 Bánk bán   Wikipedia
34
Bartók Bluebeard’s Castle (1981)
 
Like Light Magazine
35 Berg’s Wozzeck Joachim Hess Wsimag
36
Britten Death in Venice (1981)
 
Like Light Magazine
37 Camille   Wikipedia
38 Carmen Jones   Wikipedia
39 Carmen: A Hip Hopera   Wikipedia
40 Citizen Kane Orson Welles ROH
41 Das Rheingold   Wikipedia
42 Death in Venice  
Wonders In The Dark
43 Der Ring des Nibelungen   Ranker
44 Die Zauberflöte  
Classical Lites
45 Fantasia   Listverse
46 Fidelio   Ranker
47 Fifth Element Luc Besson ROH
48 Gallipoli   Listverse
49
Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto Story
  Wikipedia
50 Hopscotch Il barbiere di Siviglia
Glynde Bourne
51 Il trovatore   Ranker
52 Katerina Izmailova   Wikipedia
53 L’elisir d’amore   Ranker
54 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk  
Wonders In The Dark
55 Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci Franco Zeffirelli Wsimag
56 Louise   Wikipedia
57 Lucia di Lammermoor   Ranker
58 Maria Stuarda  
Wonders In The Dark
59 Marie Antoinette Castor et Pollux
Glynde Bourne
60 Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Turandot
Glynde Bourne
61 Moonstruck Norman Jewison ROH
62 Moses und Aron   Wikipedia
63
Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro (1975)
 
Like Light Magazine
64
Mozart The Magic Flute (1975)
 
Like Light Magazine
65 Mozart’s Don Giovanni Joseph Losey Wsimag
66 Mozart’s The Magic Flute   Wsimag
67 Mr Bean’s Holiday Gianni Schicchi
Glynde Bourne
68 Nabucco   Ranker
69 Norma   Ranker
70 Philadelphia Andrea Chenier
Glynde Bourne
71 Porgy and Bess   Wikipedia
72 Prénom Carmen   Wikipedia
73 Prince Igor   Wikipedia
74
Puccini La Bohème (2009)
 
Like Light Magazine
75 Puccini Tosca (1976)  
Like Light Magazine
76 Puccini’s La Bohème Robert Dornhelm Wsimag
77 Quantum of Solace Marc Forster ROH
78 R. Strauss Elektra (1981)  
Like Light Magazine
79 R. Strauss Salome  
Like Light Magazine
80 Rent   Wikipedia
81 Richard Strauss’ Salome Götz Friedrich Wsimag
82 Rick   Wikipedia
83 Salome  
Wonders In The Dark
84 Sunday Bloody Sunday   Listverse
85 The Barber of Seville   Ranker
86 The Bartered Bride  
Wonders In The Dark
87 The Bohemian Girl   Wikipedia
88 The Dumb Girl of Portici   Wikipedia
89 The Fifth Element   Listverse
90 The Hunger   Listverse
91 The Life of David Gale   Listverse
92 The Shawshank Redemption Le nozze di Figaro
Glynde Bourne
93 The Toll of the Sea   Wikipedia
94 Topsy-Turvy   Wikipedia
95 Tristan und Isolde   Ranker
96 Turandot   Ranker
97 U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha   Wikipedia
98 Up Carmen
Glynde Bourne
99 Verdi’s Rigoletto Jean Pierre Ponnelle Wsimag
100 Wagner’s Parsifal Hans-Jürgen Syberberg Wsimag
101 Wall Street   Listverse
102 Werther  
Wonders In The Dark

 


10 Best Opera Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
BFI 10 great opera films
Classical Lites Classicalite’s Five Best: Opera Films
Glynde Bourne 10 times opera stole the scene at the movies
Like Light Magazine The Top Ten Opera Films
Listverse Top 10 Best Uses of Opera in Movies
Ranker Best Operas of All Time
ROH 8 of the greatest operatic moments in film
Wikipedia List of films based on operas
Wonders In The Dark The 25 Greatest ‘Opera Films’ Ever Made
Wsimag 10 Excellent Film Versions of Operas

You Might Also Like