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Rossini’s 39 Operas (List + 1-Sentence Summaries)

The operas of Gioachino Rossini are a feast for the ears and eyes. Due to their diversity, there is something for everyone: Rossini wrote both comic and serious operas based on historical, mythological and biblical material.

Rossini created a total of 39 stage works. That’s INCREDIBLY many, especially when you consider that Rossini stopped composing operas at the age of just 37, opting instead for early retirement 😊

He could afford to do so, however, because Rossini virtually triggered a hype in Europe with his stage works at the beginning of the 19th century.

By the way: Despite his incredible productivity, Rossini was always careful not to overwork himself 😊 For example, he was known for using the same overture for different operas, or even for composing a “new” opera from “old” melodies…Very economical, that man.

Anyway: With 39 completed operas (3 more remained unfinished) Rossini leaves some of his colleagues clearly behind, among them for example Mozart (22) and Puccini (12). Some Rossini operas are still very popular today, for example L’italiana in Algeri, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola and Guillaume Tell.

All 39 Rossini operas can be found in the following list. Further below you will find brief summaries of the plots in one sentence each.

TitleWork NumberPeriod of CreationWorld Premiere (Date and Place)Beginner friendliness 0-100 (more on this below)
Demetrio e PolibioGR 1180618. May 1812 in Rome60
La cambiale di matrimonioGR 218103. November 1810 in Venice70
L’equivoco stravaganteGR 3181126. October 1811 in Bologna80
L’inganno feliceGR 418128. January 1812 in Venice50
Ciro in BabiloniaGR 5181214. March 1812 in Ferrara40
La scala di setaGR 618129. May 1812 in Venice90
La pietra del paragoneGR 7181226. September 1812 in Milan75
L’occasione fa il ladroGR 8181224. November 1812 in Venice85
Il signor BruschinoGR 9181327. January 1813 in Venice95
TancrediGR 1018136. February 1813 in Venice65
L’italiana in AlgeriGR 11181322. May 1813 in Venice100
Aureliano in PalmiraGR 12181326. December 1813 in Milan45
Il turco in ItaliaGR 13181414. August 1814 in Milan80
SigismondoGR 14181426. December 1814 in Venice35
Elisabetta, regina d‘InghilterraGR 1518154. October 1815 in Naples55
Torvaldo e DorliskaGR 16181526. December 1815 in Rome70
Il barbiere di SivigliaGR 17181620. February 1816 in Rome100
La gazzettaGR 18181626. September 1816 in Naples75
OtelloGR 1918164. December 1816 in Naples60
La CenerentolaGR 20181725. January 1817 in Rome95
La gazza ladraGR 21181731. May 1817 in Milan65
ArmidaGR 22181711. November 1817 in Naples50
Adelaide di BorgognaGR 23181727. December 1817 in Rome45
Mosè in EgittoGR 2418185. March 1818 in Naples55
AdinaGR 25181822. June 1826 in Lisbon80
Ricciardo e ZoraideGR 2618183. December 1818 in Naples40
ErmioneGR 27181927. March 1819 in Naples60
Eduardo e CristinaGR 28181924. April 1819 in Venice40
La donna del lagoGR 29181924. October 1819 in Naples70
Bianca e FallieroGR 30181926. December 1819 in Milan50
Maometto IIGR 3118203. December 1820 in Naples50
Matilde di ShabranGR 32182124. February 1821 in Rome60
ZelmiraGR 33182216. February 1822 in Naples45
SemiramideGR 3418233. February 1823 in Venice65
Il viaggio a ReimsGR 35182519. June 1825 in Paris85
Le siège de CorintheGR 3618269. October 1826 in Paris45
Moïse et PharaonGR 37182726. March 1827 in Paris55
Le comte OryGR 38182820. August 1828 in Paris85
Guillaume TellGR 3918293. August 1829 in Paris75
Ugo, re d'ItaliaGR 401829–1832unvollendet
IvanhoéGR 411830–1832unvollendet
Robert BruceGR 421839–1846unvollendet

Rossini's Operas in 1 Sentence Each

Get to know all of Rossini’s operas at a fast pace – with plot summaries in 1 sentence each!

Additionally, 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.

Demetrio e Polibio

Two feuding kings reconcile through the love of their children.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. Uncomplicated plot, but rather unknown.

La cambiale di matrimonio

A rich Englishman wants to marry his daughter to a Canadian, but she loves another man.
Beginner friendliness: 70/100. Funny and short.

L'equivoco stravagante

A young man is mistaken for a woman to protect his lover from her father.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. Crazy comedy of mistaken identity, but rarely seen.

L'inganno felice

An outcast woman is rescued by a miner and finds her husband again.
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. A touching story, but musically not a top performance by Rossini.

Ciro in Babilonia

The Persian king Cyrus defeats the Babylonian king Belshazzar and frees his wife.
Beginner friendliness: 40/100. A historical drama and, accordingly, quite serious and, unfortunately, a bit lengthy.

La scala di seta

A young woman has a secret ladder of silk to meet her lover.
Beginner friendliness: 90/100. Splashy comedy, lots of charm, lots of wit.

La pietra del paragone

A count tests the loyalty of his friends and mistress with a fake philosopher’s stone.
Beginner friendliness: 75/100. Entertaining satire with some musical gold.

L'occasione fa il ladro

A thief assumes the identity of another man and falls in love with his fiancée.
Beginner friendliness: 85/100. Amusing comedy of mistaken identity with a lot of verve.

Il signor Bruschino

A young man pretends to be the son of an old gentleman in order to marry his mistress.
Beginner friendliness: 95/100. Short, funny and original.


A young knight fights for his homeland and his love against the Saracens.
Beginner friendliness: 65/100. Romantic drama with some successful arias.

L'italiana in Algeri

An Italian woman escapes from the harem of the Algerian Bey and returns to her husband.
Beginner friendliness: 100/100. One of Rossini’s most famous and funniest operas with many comic situations and brilliant musical numbers.

Aureliano in Palmira

Roman Emperor Aurelian conquers the city of Palmyra and spares Queen Zenobia, whom he loves.
Beginner friendliness: 45/100. Historical drama with appropriately complex plot, but great arias.

Il turco in Italia

A bored Italian woman flirts with a Turkish prince who wants to kidnap her, but her husband beats her to it.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. Splashy comedy with lots of situation comedy and great music.


A Polish king believes his wife has betrayed him and has her confined to a convent, but she is innocent.
Beginner friendliness: 35/100. One of Rossini’s dark operas.

Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra

English Queen Elizabeth I must choose between her love for an earl and her duty as a ruler.
Beginner friendliness: 55/100. Historical drama in which the plot often doesn’t quite get off the ground, but the arias are worth hearing.

Torvaldo e Dorliska

A young couple flees a tyrannical duke and finds refuge with a forester.
Beginner friendliness: 70/100. A romantic drama, but it has some comic elements and is musically diverse.

Il barbiere di Siviglia

A shrewd barber helps a count capture his mistress, who is guarded by her guardian.
Beginner friendliness: 100/100. Rossini’s milestone opera – famous, funny, with many familiar tunes.

La gazzetta

A rich merchant chooses a wife for his daughter from a newspaper, but she already has a secret lover.
Beginner friendliness: 75/100. Comedy with some original scenes.


The Moorish general Othello is made jealous by his ensign and kills his wife Desdemona out of false suspicion.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. Tragic and dramatic, yet in places quite far from Shakespeare’s original.

La Cenerentola

A poor maid is mistreated by her stepfather and stepsisters, but she marries a prince with the help of a wise old man.
Beginner friendliness: 95/100. Comedy with lots of charm and great music.

La gazza ladra

A young maid is accused of stealing a silver spoon and sentenced to death, but she is saved by a thieving magpie.
Beginner friendliness: 65/100. Very diverse – touching moments, funny and serious scenes, and some musical highlights make an interesting combination.


A magical princess seduces a crusader and keeps him prisoner in her palace, but he is freed by his comrades.
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. The plot is quite complex, but there are some virtuoso arias.

Adelaide di Borgogna

The Italian queen Adelaide is besieged by a German emperor and rescued by a French king.
Beginner friendliness: 45/100. The plot is rather lacking in tension, but there are some musical highlights in the arias.

Mosè in Egitto

The biblical prophet Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and parts the Red Sea.
Beginner friendliness: 55/100. Religious drama with some impressive choral numbers, but you have to work through lengthy recitatives to get there 😉


In this “spin-off” of Il barbiere di Siviglia, a barber helps a young woman marry her lover by tricking a rich Turk.
Beginner friendliness: 80/100. Funny comedy with a happy twist.

Ricciardo e Zoraide

An African king kidnaps a princess and is challenged by her lover.
Beginner friendliness: 40/100. Exotic, in places cruel drama with virtuoso arias.


The Greek princess Hermione loves the Trojan prince Pyrrhus, but he loves the Trojan princess Andromache.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. Tragic drama with some musical highlights.

Eduardo e Cristina

A Swedish prince secretly marries a Norwegian princess and must stand up to his father and rival.
Beginner friendliness: 40/100. A tremendous conflict depicted in impressive music.

La donna del lago

A Scottish lady loves a highlander who turns out to be the Scottish King James V.
Beginner friendliness: 70/100. Romantic drama with lots of charm and a happy twist.

Bianca e Falliero

A Venetian noblewoman and a Genoese admiral love each other, but are opposed by their families and must defend themselves before the Senate.
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. Serious plot laced with lots of intrigue and betrayal, but also some virtuoso arias.

Maometto II

The Turkish Sultan Mehmed II conquers the Venetian city of Negroponte and falls in love with the governor’s daughter.
Beginner friendliness: 50/100. Historical drama with lots of war and death and musically impressive scenes.

Matilde di Shabran

A brave and clever woman conquers the heart of a misanthropic count, who first captures her and then wants to marry her.
Beginner friendliness: 60/100. This Rossini opera can probably be called a “tragicomedy.”


An Illyrian royal is pursued by a usurper and defends her kingdom and her son.
Beginner friendliness: 45/100. Heroic drama with intrigue and betrayal.


Babylonian queen Semiramis loves a young man who turns out to be her son (pheeeewww…).
Beginner friendliness: 65/100. Tragic in a spectacular way.

Il viaggio a Reims

A motley group of travelers meet at an inn on their way to the coronation of Karl X in Reims.
Beginner friendliness: 85/100. Comedy in refreshing (pun intended) setting.

Le siège de Corinthe

The Greek city of Corinth is besieged by the Turks and defends itself heroically to the bitter end.
Beginner friendliness: 45/100. Spectacular historical drama.

Moïse et Pharaon

Biblical prophet Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and parts the Red Sea, while Pharaoh loses his daughter to an Israelite prince.
Beginner friendliness: 55/100. Religious drama with some impressive choral numbers, but you have to work through lengthy recitatives to get there 😉

Le comte Ory

A lecherous count disguises himself as a nun to seduce a countess, but is unmasked by his rival.
Beginner friendliness: 85/100. Lots of wit and brilliant music.

Guillaume Tell

Swiss hero William Tell fights against Austrian occupation and liberates his country.
Beginner friendliness: 75/100. Patriotic drama with famous music with a somewhat complicated plot, though.

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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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Cho

    Thank you so much for this informative Series! Love your witty comments next to the Beginner friendliness score. (Or BFS :))

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