Mozart created 22 stage works in his lifetime. Among them are world-famous ‘evergreens’ such as The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni. But many Mozart operas are also completely unknown, or have you ever heard of the ‘Goose of Cairo’? All 22 Mozart operas can be found in the following list. Below are brief summaries of the opera plots in one sentence each.
|Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots||KV 35||1767|
|Apollo und Hyacinth||KV 38||1767|
|Bastien und Bastienne||KV 50 / 46 b||1768|
|La finta semplice||KV 51 / 46 a||1769|
|Mitridate, Re di Ponto||KV 87 / 74 a||1770|
|Ascanio in Alba||KV 111||1771|
|La Betulia liberata||KV 118 / 740||1771?|
|Il sogno di Scipione||KV 126||1772|
|Lucio Silla||KV 135||1772|
|La finta giardiniera||KV 196||1775|
|Il re pastore||KV 208||1775|
|Zaide||KV 344 / 336 b||1781|
|Idomeneo, Re di Creta||KV 366||1781|
|Die Entführung aus dem Serail||KV 384||1782|
|L'oca del Cairo (Die Gans von Kairo)||KV 422||1783|
|Lo sposo deluso (Fragment)||KV 430||1783|
|Der Schauspieldirektor||KV 486||1786|
|Le nozze di Figaro||KV 492||1786|
|Don Giovanni (Il dissoluto punito)||KV 527||1787|
|Così fan tutte||KV 588||1790|
|Die Zauberflöte||KV 620||1791|
|La clemenza di Tito||KV 621||1791|
Mozart Operas in 1 Sentence Each
Get to know all the Mozart operas – with plot summaries in 1 sentence each!
In addition, for each opera, I indicate how beginner-friendly I think it is. Of course this is subjective, but maybe it will give you some orientation: 0 stands for not at all beginner-friendly, 100 for very beginner-friendly.
Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots
A young man is exhorted by three allegorical figures (Christian Spirit, Worldly Spirit, and Mercy) to fulfill his religious duties and turn away from worldly life.
Beginner friendliness: 20/100. Spiritual singspiel with appropriate emphasis on moral teaching rather than riveting suspense.
Apollo und Hyacinth
The god Apollo falls in love with the beautiful youth Hyacinth, who is killed by Apollo’s jealous rival Zephyr.
Beginner friendliness: 40/100. A tragic love story with mythological elements.
Bastien und Bastienne
A simple shepherd couple is reunited by the intrigues of a supposed sorcerer after they quarrel.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. A light and funny comedy with catchy tunes.
La finta semplice
A young lady pretends to be a simple-minded farmer’s daughter and obtains a marriage with her cunning.
Beginner friendliness: 70/100. A turbulent comedy of mistaken identity with lots of wordplay and charm.
Mitridate, Re di Ponto
The king of Pontus returns from war to find that his two sons have fallen in love with his fiancée.
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. A conflicted family saga with virtuoso arias.
Ascanio in Alba
The god Venus leads the young prince Ascanio to his future bride Silvia, whom he has seen in a dream.
Beginner friendliness: 30/100. An idyllic pastoral, but rather lacking in tension.
La Betulia liberata
The Jewish widow Judith seduces and beheads the Assyrian general Holofernes to save her besieged city of Betulia.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. A dramatic story with strong female characters.
Il sogno di Scipione
The Roman general Scipio Africanus must choose between the goddesses Fortuna (luck) and Costanza (virtue).
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. Philosophical theme with little plot, but some arias and choruses worth hearing.
A Roman dictator is in love with a senator’s daughter, but she loves an exile.
Beginner friendliness: 70/100. A dramatic opera seria with impressive choral and ensemble scenes.
La finta giardiniera
A disguised countess searches for her unfaithful lover, who once seriously injured her with a knife, and gets caught in a web of love confusion.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. An entertaining opera with many comic situations and emotional chaos.
Il re pastore
The young shepherd Aminta is made king of Sidon, but must give up his beloved Elisa to marry a foreign princess.
Beginner friendliness: 40/100. A heroic opera, but with rather flat characters.
A female Christian slave falls in love with a male Muslim slave and flees with him from the sultan who desires her.
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. An opera with famous arias, but unfortunately left unfinished.
Idomeneo, Re di Creta
The king of Crete must sacrifice his son to fulfill a vow to the god Neptune, who saved his life.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. A dramatic opera with many conflicts and emotions, impressive choral scenes, but also long recitatives.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio)
A Spanish nobleman tries to free his beloved Konstanze from the harem of a Turkish pasha.
Beginner friendliness: 90/100. An exciting yet funny opera with exotic sounds and rousing arias.
L'oca del Cairo (The Goose of Cairo)
A rich gentleman frees his lover from a tower by smuggling himself inside in a mechanical goose.
Beginner friendliness: 40/100. Wild plot, even with a talking goose!
Two rival singers fight over the lead role in a new opera, driving the theater director to despair.
Beginner friendliness: 70/100. A short and comic opera with lots of parody.
Le nozze di Figaro
The servant Figaro wants to marry Susanna, but his master, Count Almaviva, has his eye on her.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. A masterful (and highly political!) opera with plenty of wit, charm and social criticism, but it‘s a little bit long.
Don Giovanni (Il dissoluto punito)
The notorious womanizer Don Giovanni seduces women until he is finally driven to hell by a ghost.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. A fascinating blend of comedy and tragedy.
Così fan tutte
Two young men bet an old philosopher that their fiancés will be faithful to them, and try to seduce them under false identities.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. An ironic and bittersweet opera with lots of disguise and confusion.
Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)
A young prince must pass trials to free the daughter of the Queen of the Night, who is being held captive by a wise priest.
Beginner friendliness: 100/100. A fairy-tale opera with magical elements, fantastic characters and wonderful music.
La clemenza di Tito
The Roman emperor Titus becomes entangled in intrigue, but allows clemency to prevail in the end.
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. A highly political opera.