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Guides for Musicals, Plays, Operas & Operettas

Read expert-written show guides with context, plot, characters and video examples.

La Bohème

A group of friends are living a bohemian life in Paris and trying to make their livings creating art. Rodolfo, the writer, falls in love with the seamstress, Mimi, while Marcello, the painter, and Musetta, the singer, are the on-and-off-again couple by their sides. When the four are happy, they... read more

  • tragic romance
  • poverty
  • sickness
  • death
  • love


The Spanish gypsy Carmen lives only for sensuality and manages to seduce the naïve sergeant Don José with her wiles. His love for Carmen leads him to attack his superior officer, desert his military duties and abandon his childhood sweetheart. He then joins Carmen and her band of smugglers. Unf... read more

  • bizet
  • french

Aida (Opera)

A tragic tale of forbidden love, Aida follows the struggle of the Ethiopian princess, Aida, and the young Egyptian warrior, Radamès, to decide between love or loyalty to their countries. Aida has been captured by the Egyptians, who do not know her true identity, and is being held as a slave. She... read more

  • forbidden love
  • romance
  • egypt
  • verdi
  • drama
  • death

Porgy and Bess

In the African-American tenement in Charleston, South Carolina, times are tough. The residents make their living by farming, fishing, and drugs as they struggle their poverty. Their relatively peaceful life is interrupted when Crown, a tough laborer, murders Robbins during a craps game. Crown... read more

Così fan tutte

A hilarious farce, Così fan tutte revolved around a bet made among three men; Don Alfonso, the older and more cynical of the bunch, bets Ferrando and Guglielmo that he can prove that their girlfriends, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, are unfaithful like all women. Don Alfonso, with the help of Despina,... read more

  • comedy
  • mozart
  • romance
  • fiance switch
  • second chances


Based on the famous play by Shakespeare, Verdi’s Otello follows the story of the happy couple, Otello, the governor of Cyprus and Venetian general, and Desdemona as they are dragged through an evil plot constructed by Iago. Iago is the slighted ensign of Otello, who has been passed over for a pro... read more

  • shakespeare
  • romance
  • strong singers
  • betrayal
  • murder
  • race relations


The opera begins in the early morning following a battle in Thebes between the armies of the two sons of Oedipus: Eteocles and Polynices. King Creon, who ascended the throne of Thebes after both brothers are killed in battle, decrees that Polynices is not to be buried. Antigone, his sister, defie... read more

Don Giovanni

The famous tale of Don Giovanni centers around the womanizing libertine and his conquests. Don Giovanni sneaks into Il Commendatore’s house, with his side kick, Leporello, standing guard and attempts to rape or seduce his daughter, Donna Anna. Upon fleeing, after Donna Anna screams, Don Giovanni... read more

  • dramma giocoso
  • drama
  • dark comedy
  • murder
  • don juan

Albert Herring

In the small town of Loxford in East Sussex, the old-fashioned autocrat Lady Billows is in a tizzy. She has assembled a committee of the most important people in town to try to find a suitable Queen for their annual May Day Feast, but none of the young women in town are of suitable moral charact... read more

  • benjamin britten
  • peter pears
  • comedy
  • may queen
  • festival
  • suffolk
  • chamber orchestra
  • england
  • english
  • britain
  • british
  • chamber opera
  • social critique

The Turn of the Screw

Written in 1954, The Turn of the Screw is the last of Benjamin Britten’s chamber operas, based on the gothic horror novella of the same title.  A sheltered young governess is sent to care for two children in a country house called Bly.  At first, her new post seems perfect--the children, Miles an... read more

  • horror
  • creepy
  • spooky
  • ghost
  • ghosts
  • opera
  • benjamin britten
  • england
  • english
  • britain
  • british
  • chamber
  • gothic
  • psychological