You are currently viewing Richard Strauss’ 15 Operas (List + 1-Sentence Summaries)

Richard Strauss’ 15 Operas (List + 1-Sentence Summaries)

The operas of Richard Strauss are a fascinating world. Whether radical innovations (Salome, Elektra), a reminder of past (better?) times (Der Rosenkavalier) or the technical perfection of a grand master (Capriccio) – Strauss could do it all.

Conducting, too, by the way. Richard Strauss liked to conduct his own operas as well as those of colleagues frequently, and (especially in his later years) with remarkably economical technique.

All 15 operas by Richard Strauss can be found in the following list. Further below you will find brief summaries of the plots in one sentence each.

TitleWork NumberTime of CreationWorld Premiere (Date and Place)Beginner friendliness 0–100 (more on this below)
Guntramop. 251892–189310 May 1894 in Weimar20
Feuersnotop. 501900–190121 November 1901 in Dresden40
Salomeop. 541903–19059 December 1905 in Dresden70
Elektraop. 581906–190825 January 1909 in Dresden60
Der Rosenkavalierop. 591909–191026 January 1911 in Dresden80
Ariadne auf Naxosop. 601911–191225 October 1912 in Stuttgart70
Die Frau ohne Schattenop. 651914–191710 October 1919 in Vienna50
Intermezzoop. 721918–19234 November 1924 in Dresden30
Die ägyptische Helenaop. 751923–19276 June 1928 in Dresden40
Arabellaop. 791929–19321 July 1933 in Dresden80
Die schweigsame Frauop. 801933–193424 June 1935 in Dresden70
Friedenstagop. 811935–193624 July 1938 in Munich60
Daphneop. 821936–193715 October 1938 in Dresden50
Die Liebe der Danaeop. 831937–194014 August 1952 in Salzburg60
Capriccioop. 851940–194128 October 1942 in Munich80

Richard Strauss' Operas in 1 Sentence Each

Get to know all of Richard Strauss’ operas– with plot summaries in 1 sentence each!

In addition, I indicate for each opera 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.


A young minstrel falls in love with the wife of a tyrannical duke and gets into a bloody conflict.
Beginner friendliness: 20/100. Quite long with complex plot.


A mage takes revenge on a city that has mocked him by extinguishing all the lights until his beloved redeems him.
Beginner friendliness: 40/100. Short, humorous, and not easy to stage.


The beautiful and cruel princess Salome desires the prophet Jochanaan and demands his head as a reward for her dance.
Beginner friendliness: 70/100. Shocking and fascinating, with famous music.


The daughter of the murdered King Agamemnon seeks revenge on her mother and stepfather until her brother Orest returns.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. Brutal plot with intense music.

Der Rosenkavalier

A married field marshal gives up her young lover to a young woman who is courted by a wealthy baron.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. Romantic and comic, with great melodies.

Ariadne auf Naxos

A tragic opera about the abandoned Ariadne is combined with a troupe of comedians.
Beginner friendliness: 70/100. Original and entertaining, but somewhat complex due to the play-within-a-play structure.

Die Frau ohne Schatten

An empress must find a shadow within three days or her husband will turn to stone.
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. Magic music, but very long and complex.


A woman suspects her husband of adultery based on a telegram and causes a series of misunderstandings.
Beginner friendliness: 30/100. Ironic, but one of the Strauss operas with less tension.

Die ägyptische Helena

The unfaithful Helen is taken back by her husband Menelas after the Trojan War, after a sorceress erases her memory.
Beginner friendliness: 40/100. Refreshing setting, but with flatly drawn characters.


A young Viennese woman must marry a rich man to save her family, but falls in love with another count.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. Charming and elegant, with endearing characters and a happy ending.

Die schweigsame Frau

An old captain seeks a silent woman to marry, but gets a singer.
Beginner friendliness: 70/100. Funny and whimsical, with many allusions to opera history.


A besieged city celebrates peace day after a long war, uniting two enemy lovers.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. Slightly wagging a finger.


A nymph loves nature more than humans and turns into a laurel tree to escape the god Apollo.
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. Lyrical and poetic, with no sprawling plot lines.

Die Liebe der Danae

The beautiful Danae must choose between Jupiter and Midas.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. Mythological and humorous, but with some lengths.


A countess must choose between a poet and a composer.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. Sophisticated and witty with many conversational passages.

Jonathan Stark – Conductor
Jonathan Stark – Conductor

Hello! I'm Jonathan Stark. As a conductor, it is important to me that visits to concerts and operas leave a lasting impression on the audience. Background knowledge helps to achieve this. That's why I blog here about key works of classical music, about composers, about opera and much more that happens in the exciting world of music.

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