Guides for Musicals, Plays, Operas & Operettas

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


The Rape of Lucretia

The Rape of Lucretia revolves around a bet made between three Roman officers, Collatinus, Junius, and Prince Tarquinius, while they are at war with Greece. The three men bet on which of their wives will be faithful. As it turns out, only Lucretia, the wife of Collatinus remains true to her man. I... read more

Riders to the Sea

Set on the remote island of Inishmaan, Vaughan-William’s intensely tragic opera is based on J.M. Synge’s play . Before the opera starts, Maurya has lost her husband, his father, and five of their sons to the sea. One son is still missing and the family is awaiting news of any remains being washed... read more


Considered to be the operatic retelling of The Little Mermaid story, Rusalka is a Czech fairy-tale about a mermaid who longs to be human, so that she can be with the Prince who swims in the lake. When her father Vodník cannot help her she turns to Ježibaba, the witch. She sings of her love in th... read more


The day appointed by the gods when Queen Semiramide must give up her throne and choose a successor to rule Assyria, and marry Princess Azema, has arrived. At the great festival of Baal, the queen will declare who is to rule, and there will be a wedding and a coronation. But, Queen Semiramide falt... read more

Serse (Xerxes)

Xerxes, the King of Persia, resolves to marry Romilda. However, Romilda is also loved by Arsamene - the brother of Xerxes. Meanwhile, Atalanta is in love with Arsamente. Amastre, Xerxes fiancé whom he has abandoned, disguises herself as a man and seeks revenge. Atalanta's pretence that Arsa... read more

La serva padrona

Considered by many to be the first example of opera buffa, Pergolesi’s short opera La serva padrona employs stock characters from commedia dell'arte in a farcical plot.Uberto has raised the young Serpina as his servant, and now laments her insubordination. She will not listen to his instructions... read more

Simon Boccanegra

A child born out of wedlock, to the daughter of a wealthy family, is hidden away by her father until the two of them can be reunited. He puts her into the care of an old lady, while he is working at sea. When the old lady watching over her dies, the young girl wanders until no one could find her.... read more

The Sorcerer

The rich but witless Alexis has a vision that the joy of marriage shall overrule all earthly unhappiness. Practicing what he's preached, Alexis is recently betrothed to the beautiful Aline. At his wedding ceremony, he plots the final realization of his vision: to bring the joy of marriage to the... read more

Suor Angelica

Suor Angelica is the tragic tale of a woman who bears a child out of wedlock and is sent to a convent to repent for her sins. The opera follows the sisters on a particular holiday in their year, a celebration of May and the start of spring, when the evening sun lights the font in their courtyard... read more


A dark twist on the apocryphal story of Susannah and the Elders, Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah is one of the most-performed American operas of all time. Susannah Polk, a wide-eyed and lovely young woman, lives a simple and happy life with her older brother Sam, who raised her. She finds herself vic... read more